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A Word from Canon Smalley

As published in the July 11 & 18 edition of  The Adventurer.

At this moment, Paula and I find ourselves at a place of mixed emotions. As part of our tacit prenuptial agreement, I consented to travel with her to Canada every year, even if reluctant to hold the trip with the same reverence as her family. If you have been following the news, you may know that the border is closed again this summer, making travel there impossible. She is sad, as I am, though I confess to you that I am not crushed to miss out on 48 hours (four days!) of driving that is part of our trip to and from. I love Paula, but…

The reason I mention this is that in the previous year, and even now, many of our usual rhythms have been interrupted, our consistencies challenged. I would argue that even the most iconoclastic among us appreciates a sense of connection and strength. The question is where, in what, in whom do we look for it?

The loss of our summer trip, though a real bond and significant to our family, pales in comparison to the more significant challenges that many have experienced and continue to experience. But I share my story to introduce a theme I have been reflecting on, the theme of pruning: something moved, removed, changed, taken away — whether temporary or permanent, a disruption to our lives.

Pruning, though rarely invited, demonstrates powerful truths in the life of a Christian. Pruning can incorrectly be construed as punishment, though that is farthest from the truth. Pruning reveals to us that God is with us and that God loves us — rather than distance, proximity; rather than anger, love.

John 15 records Jesus speaking about the pruning that the Father does on those Jesus calls his friends. The reason behind the pruning? Life. It’s the removal of something so that more might be added — more of the knowledge and love of God, more of life, more than we knew to long for.

I am a terrible gardener, but I know a great one. I pray that in these interrupted moments you will find more of him and know that this life in Christ will never be taken away.

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
John 15:11

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