To the botanically uninitiated the exposed root system of this otherwise unremarkable tree is a staggering and wholly unexpected sight. Normally the roots are hidden away below ground level, but here the River Ure has washed away the bank side soil and exposed them to the atmosphere and not least to the wonderment of passers by. These roots both nourish the tree and anchor it within the ground. They are the vital key to its continuing success or failure. In large measure they determine its capacity to withstand the threats and hazards of the changing seasons in this habitat, everything from drought, inundation and raging storm. To be uprooted would be a total calamity, a natural catastrophe from which there would be little hope of recovery.
I have the sense that during Holy Week the roots of our faith as Christians are similarly exposed for all to see. This sight is equally surprising and also has the capacity to astonish the casual observer. Hidden away beneath the surface of a healthy faith is a remarkable system which likewise anchors us within our immediate context in God and the world, and nourishes and sustains us. It helps us to withstand the many vicissitudes and challenges which life brings to us. Without it we would be all too easily uprooted in our faith.
As we walk with Jesus through the events of Holy Week what do we discern beneath the surface regarding his own faith-rootedness which gives us the pattern for our own? As I have pondered this question for myself several possibilities have emerged; you can no doubt think of many others:
To be grounded, enfolded and held fast in our personal experience of the truth of God’s love
Confident that nothing can separate us from the loving presence of God
Knowing that there is nothing that such love cannot face
Being completely open to the empowering and transforming presence of God’s creative Spirit
Courage and integrity to follow the purposeful way of God’s liberating Kingdom
Strength and resolve to face up to all that is wrong
Willingness to accept the personal consequences of loving like God loves
Absolutely committed to be the human face of God’s love to and for others
It seems to me that in this way Jesus was already living what an Easter faith looks like. He was demonstrating what resurrection power can do in the life of the faithful. Without such rootedness and sustenance beneath the surface of his journey to Calvary it is difficult to see how Jesus could have given himself for the sake of love in the way that he did. Jesus lived and modelled the Kingdom life in action to the end. He only ever dealt with truth and reality. He steadfastly encouraged those around him in their discipleship and mission, no matter how tough the going got. He challenged those with responsibility and authority with the consequences of their actions and held them accountable.
And he calls us to follow him as those rooted and grounded in the same faith. Beneath the surface of church, discipleship and mission we should always find the vibrant truth of Easter.