In Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Big Rapids, Mich., there’s a tree stump and a live tree that reaches almost to the ceiling. Hanging on its branches are ornaments made of clay that symbolize God’s salvation history from Adam and Eve to the lineage of David to Jesus.
“Scott Vanderhill, our worship committee chair, rummaged through the woods near his house during a storm and found both the stump and the tree,” said pastor Ken Krause.
The stump and tree represent the passages found in Isaiah and Jeremiah of the “Righteous Branch” and “Stump of Jesse,” thus helping the congregation usher in the Advent season.
“The message of the symbol of the living tree coming out of the mostly dead stump is powerful,” said Vanderhill.
The visual was part of a congregational “WE!” event hosted by Fellowship CRC’s youth group. Using material from the CRC’s Faith Alive, youth group leaders Ruth and Mike Wissink and Scott and Valisa Vanderhill planned an intergenerational event that included a meal, singing, liturgy, and crafts.
“Our high school youth helped to put it on by doing the readings and playing music and helping with the meal, and so received a richer blessing,” said Vanderhill. “Being a smaller church, we are naturally somewhat intergenerational, because there isn’t enough of any one age group to be very isolated.”
“This was a good activity that brought the church together in a unique and different way,” added Krause. “The stump and tree continue to be an arresting image for us all as we are reminded of God's faithfulness in the past. It helps us look forward to the future with hope and the assurance of God’s providential leading in our lives and in the world.”