Sukkoth–Thanksgiving for the Church

St. Mark and St. MatthewIllustration:  “St. Mark and St. Matthew” by Marc Chagall, vitrage (All Saints’ Church, Tudeley, Kent, England), 1978.

“For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:24).

We’ve traveled a long way together. Some days have been easier than others. Along the way God has given us rest, and He has fed us. We have built our Sukkah out of the branches on our path and in that God has given us shelter. While the Sukkah is a picture of God’s provision and protection, it can also be a picture of the Church. And for that, too, we have much to be thankful.

Nehemiah instructed the people to build the Sukkah out of branches from olive and wild olive trees.  St. Paul used this imagery to describe the Church in his letter to the Romans. The root of the Church is the covenant God made with Abraham when He promised to bring the Savior through his descendants.  The natural branches are those of Jewish descent who have grown from the root. Some of those natural branches have been cut off because they did not believe in Christ.  Gentiles are “wild shoots” because they are not descendants of Abraham.  However, Paul says that  the Gentiles who believe in Jesus as their Messiah have been grafted into Christ. Jewish people who come to believe in Jesus are also grafted back in. So, the root, promised to Abraham, fulfilled in Jesus, now supports both wild and natural olive branches, you and me.

Our Sukkah is the Church. A structure commanded by God and built of both wild and natural olive branches, the Church, like the Sukkah, may seem shaky sometimes–but it is not. It has God’s covering, and is built on the rock that is Jesus the Messiah. In the Church we dwell, and grow, and serve, and prosper.

Prayer:  My Lord, thank You for the gift of the Church. Give me strength to minister to those who are broken in the Church, and when I am broken, help me to seek You in church. In Y’shua’s name, Amen.

Ponder the path:  It is often tempting to turn away from the Church, especially when we have been hurt by someone within it. But even though the branches that God uses to build the Church are sometimes bent, and gnarled, and brittle, together, we are very strong indeed. Thank God today for His gift of the Church and share that thanks with others in your congregation.

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