Be rooted and built up in Christ, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving. – Colossians 2:7 (CEB)
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Nestled among miles of towering sandstone cliffs along the lakeshore is the craggy island of Chapel Rock, home to a 250-year-old white pine tree. The white pine stands solitary on Chapel Rock, separate from the shoreline but just as alive as the forest beyond it.
As you approach Chapel Rock by boat, the white pine seems like a soaring achievement of individualism—proudly standing tall on its isolated island, not needing the shared soil of the trees along the coast.
You have to fully circle Chapel Rock to realize that this first impression is deceiving. Extending from the tree is a tangle of roots, stretching from the sandstone base of the tree across an airy expanse back to the coast, where they feed in the same soil as the other trees, entwining with the other trees’ roots beneath the rocks.
It is the roots, not the island, that sustain the white pine. The roots cultivate the tree’s growth only because they remain grounded with the rest of the forest.
Sometimes I wish living out my faith in Christ was a solitary endeavor: when my neighbors irritate me, my siblings in Christ vex me, and Christian fellowship frustrates me.
Being rooted in Christ means my faith stretches out from my island of individualism back to the rest of the Body of Christ. Sustainability and growth come when we entangle our lives together, sharing the nutrients found in broken bread and a common cup. Being rooted in Christ means rejecting the image of self-reliance and looking deeper, beneath the surface, to the root of sacred love entwines our lives, builds us up, and makes us one.
May my faith ground me in community, and may my community be rooted in Christ.
Liz Miller serves as the Designated Pastor of Granby Congregational Church, UCC and is the author of Only Work Sundays: A Laidback Guide to Doing Less while Helping Your Church Thrive.