Yesterday we said that the Church was more like a tree than a building, and I think this is a good analogy.
A tree with strong branches from the trunk. Branches like Ministry (what we do), Creed (what we believe), Scriptures (where we find it), and Sacraments (how we react to it)
Then each big branch grows smaller branches. Out of Ministry comes the various offices we create in the church: Priests; lay-ministers; pastors; lay-workers. Out of Creed grows our theology and studies of God. Out of Scripture grows our bible studies, and devotionals books etc. Out of Sacrament grows all our services, and ceremonies, our forms of prayer and our liturgies.
Each smaller branch grows smaller branches, and twigs. This is the body and life of the tree.
Then on these smaller branches and twigs grow the leaves. The leaves are the beauty of the Church. The music, the art, the candles. The way we present our services. What people see when they look at our services and our buildings.
And the fruit that grows is the life of the saints, and humble servants.
So what happens if we start stripping the leaves off?
The tree loses its beauty, but not it’s purpose. It still grows, and lives, and adapts.
Even if we start tearing off the twigs and small branches, it is still the same tree. We damage it, but it will grow new branches and twigs, and the purpose of the main branches will still be achieved.
The same way, we can’t get too caught up in the music, and services, and books of prayer etc. These are what make the Church work, but they are not the Church. If we took them away, the Church would adapt, and find new ways to express the Scriptures, new ways to minister, new ways to follow our Creed and Sacraments.
But if we start pulling away the main branches, we cripple the tree, and it loses life.
Sometimes we get too caught up in the trappings of our churches, that we lose sight of the Church that Jesus gave to us. That he commanded us to grow and spread.
Sometimes we can’t see the tree for the branches.