Risk and Transformation

I’m a huge John Green fan. If you’re not familiar with John, here is his wikipedia page, but the short version is that he is a young adult author (Looking for Alaska and Turtles All the Way Down are my favorite) and a YouTube star with his brother, Hank. For over ten years they have run a vlog (video blog) where they send messages to one another. They also run the Crash Course educational YouTube channel, as well as several other media enterprises.

Every week, I look forward to the new installments of the vlog on Tuesdays and Fridays. This is John’s video from yesterday:

This is the same story of our faith life. We are called to share with the world the life, gifts, and beauty God has given us, and to do so with open hands.

I was honored to be at a discussion about welcome at Good Shepherd’s Theology on Tap and in the midst of the conversation, I had moment of clarity that the claim of Gospel on our lives always involves a transformation. If we’re active, Jesus invites us to be at rest. If we’re up a tree, Jesus invites us out of the tree. If we are confronted by the stranger, we are invited to welcome them with open arms because some have entertained angels. However, with every welcome comes a risk, and the Broccoli Tree exemplifies that risk. There is always a chance in our faith life that we will get sawed down, and you can’t unsaw a tree.

Yet, even as I mourned for the Broccoli Tree, I couldn’t help thinking of the new life and redemption offered in the midst of death. You can’t unsaw a tree, but shoots can sprout from the roots. You can’t unsaw a tree, but the wood can become beautiful furniture. You can’t unsaw a tree, but the compost from the leaves and branches can feed a garden.

Our risks and deaths and transformations are individual and communal. “To share something is to risk losing it,” John says. And when we risk, there is always the chance, and it may even be likely, that we will get sawed down, but for us, as Christians, life is changed, not ended. We refuse to “hoard and hide” our lives, so we share our risks and our deaths and our transformations.

As we move into the second half of our Lenten journey, how are we being asked to risk, to welcome, to be sawed down, to be transformed? How are we being asked to walk the way of the cross and prepare for the Day of Resurrection?

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