West Chelmsford United Methodist Church
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
By the time you read this it may be gone already. We are scheduled to have the large, old maple tree in front of the church cut down in the next week or two. It has been in declining health for a number of years. From some angles of sight it still looks pretty good, but from others it is clear that it is not a healthy tree. It regularly loses branches – some of them large ones – that crash down without warning.
Several years ago we thought about removing it for the same reasons, but decided to give it another chance. We had lots of dead branches removed and fertilized it and hoped for the best. I was reminded then of Jesus’ parable in Luke 13 in which a landowner threatens to cut down a fig tree that is producing no figs after three years. But one of his workers convinces the landowner to allow him to dig around it and fertilize it and give it one more year before cutting it down. I don’t know how the fig tree in the parable turned out, but our maple tree only got worse. And so it will come down.
If it were just a tree, it wouldn’t be so bad. But it is more than a tree – it is an old friend to many of us. For years the church has had refreshments after summer worship services under the welcome shade of that tree. Many of us have fond memories of those times. It is where I had refreshments with the congregation on my first Sunday as your pastor in July of 1999. In fact, it is where I met many of you that day. Countless children have played around its trunk. It has been the scene of wedding pictures, Easter egg hunts, and, in recent years, our Pumpkin Patch missions fundraiser. No doubt you can add your own memories to my short list.
When the tree comes down we will find out the condition of the remaining wood. If some of it can be saved, we will look for ways to use it in some fashion that helps us remember the beautiful old tree. After all, as we remember from Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Only God can make a tree.”