For those who are uncomfortable with any suggestion that our future is in our own hands, this might be one of those weeks to abandon the assigned texts on theological grounds. (It is extra tempting given the occasion of “Rally Sunday.”) In Deuteronomy we hear that if we obey we shall live and be blessed, but if our heart turns away we shall perish. And then very directly, “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”
For many congregations, September 8 is Rally Sunday. Sunday school begins again. Worship times are restored. The people attending worship have a freshness and excitement about them. Toddlers have grown a size or two, seventh graders are eighth graders, parents are rested from vacations, and some adults have married or added a child their families. What is God’s will for this rejuvenated lot?
They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. —Psalm 1, verse 3
A visual response to the words of the first Psalm, Charles Dupree's Blue Tree flourishes in its watery environment. Its deep roots and fine branches inspire confidence that the tree will have strength and flexibility sufficient to withstand storms. Dupree works in the medium of encaustic—a specially formulated wax mixed with pigment that creates unique textural effects. As is so often true of modern and postmodern works, the medium is much of the message. The artist says, "As priest and artist, I love the mysterious effects of wax. Wax is to the canvas what incense is to the worship space. Light, smoke and the wonder of God inform all of my work."
Although I was raised in a preacher's household and have been a preacher myself for three decades, my own conversion happened gradually. I didn't even realize what I was going through until one of my parishioners told me that the congregation had been watching my conversion one Sunday, one sermon at a time.