The Crooked Tree
The pastors, bishops, and deacons all gathered at the Church of Holiness. It was a humid Friday night in July the day before the Independence Parade. The men had removed their jackets and the women fanned themselves with next Sunday’s bulletins. The reason for the atypical meeting was to address the problem which had simple become known as the ‘crooked tree’.
The Church of Holiness had been built ten years ago to house a new congregation split off from the Church of Saints in Grace. It was a barn like structure constructed primarily of brick and sat on several acres of grass filled land. Trees had been planted on the lot before the opening of the church, and the campus portrayed an essences of holiness which served as witness to the weary souls that traveled the nearby rural highway.
This story, however, is not about a church building, a movement of God, or even an earthquaking revival. This is a story about God’s sense of humor. This is a story about a ‘crooked tree’.
Standing over six feet tall and nearly two hundred and fifty pounds head pastor Bill Cunningham, or simply Pastor Bill, stood at the front of the prayer room and bellowed.
“We simply can’t not have that eye sore of tree on are property. How will we take in new sheep to the fold with something so awkward and offensive right here on our lot? We are the Church of Holiness not those damned heathens at the Church of Saints in Grace.”
The bishops rumbled and the deacons moaned with disgust.
“Cut it down.” They said.
It seemed, after coming to an immediate consensus, the meeting soon would be adjured, but then the most junior of pastors, the leader of the youth group, pastor Mike, was compelled to speak. He humbly raised his hand, was acknowledged, and then stood from his chair in the middle of the room.
“We are a Church of Holiness,” he said. “But God is also holy and he made the ‘crooked tree’. If we cut it down will we be saying we are more holy than God.”
“That tree is not of God. The devil made that tree,” yelled deacon Jim Donald.
Pastor Mike rebutted, “I think that’s over reacting Jim. Listen all beauty comes from God and he made that tree beautiful just like he blessed each of us with a measure of beauty. I think it would be a sin to cut down the tree!”
“He has point,” declared pastor Bill’s wife from the back row of the prayer room. Pastor Mike turned, faced her, and continued.
“Hey, listen, everybody. Have you ever been down to the lake and seen the duck that was bred with a rooster. It is a funny looking thing and awkward too. But would we shouldn’t be offend by it. God loves the rooster-duck just as he loves the swan or the blue heron. You know God has a sense of humor maybe he is just trying to make us laugh with our ‘crooked tree’.”
“Now, now, now!” yelled pastor Bill, “thats debatable if God has sense of humor and if he did he wouldn’t make the Church of Holiness the butt of his joke. We are cutting down that tree!”
The bishops rattled and rolled and the deacons moaned again. Mike looked at pastors Bill’s wife. She shrugged her shoulders and frowned. The meeting quickly came to an end.
* * *
The following Thursday afternoon a tree removal service arrived at The Church of Holiness. Pastor Bill payed the group of three men 800 dollars to remove the ‘crooked tree’ from the property. Resentment stood stagnate in the air and there was a haze around the sun. With rolled up sleeves and a loosened neck tie, glee was hidden beneath the stern face of the Pastor. Suddenly, the men began to scourged the tree with their chain saws, and blood poured from its branches. Pastor Bill basked in his holiness as the object of offense let out a suffering cry. Slowly and painfully, the ‘crooked tree’ died. Then an hour and a half passed and it was reduced to a stump which was, finally, up rooted and cast into the chopper. After a violent, merciless job,the men drove away, and Pastor Bill Cunnignham was filled with religious satisfaction.
Three years later The Church of Holiness split with the Church of Redemption. Then shorty after, it dissolved. To this day the empty building still stands, and at the foremost position of the Church lot grows another ‘crooked tree’. God loves that tree, and so do I.
written by: Brett Wiley