The Metaphor of Branches
by Pat J. Sikora
The Mighty Oaks Branches
In our backyard we have a California Live Oak with branches that seem disproportionately long. They arch and bend gracefully, creating a perfect shelter for the weary and discouraged. They remind me of long, graceful arms, embracing anyone who rests awhile under them. They provide shelter and hours of pleasure for the birds that nest there and squirrels that run and jump from branch to branch. When our son was young, one branch supported his tree swing, providing hours of fun. A little girl would have immediately claimed that space as her very own playhouse. On the hills of California it is common to see oaks with branches that bend to the ground, creating the image of a perfect shelter. The branches of the oak also reach upward as if to praise. These who tarry under the shade of the oak find rest for their souls. However, only when the rest of the tree is healthy are the branches able to fulfill their function.
Oak branches remind me of the role of small groups and community in the Body of Christ. Like oak branches, God designed small groups to reach out and enfold the lost and the weary, to create a sense of belonging for those in need of nurture and shelter. They create a welcoming presence, a place of refuge. Increasing research is proving what small group proponents have known for yearshealing and maturity come from belonging. The branches grow as they are fed by the nutrients from the roots, the Word of God.