“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” – Rudyard Kipling

The world’s largest organism is found in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. It’s an aspen grove called the Pando, Latin for “I spread.” It has one massive root system spread over 106 acres. It’s made up of 47,000 tree trunks, and it weighs more than 13 million pounds. While individual trees in the Pando are as old as 130 years, this community of aspens goes back at least 80,000 years.

Life isn’t all sunshine and chlorophyll for the trees in the Pando. They grow where avalanches and landslides, heat and freeze endanger them. A solitary aspen wouldn’t survive. Wildfires also provide risk. But it turns out the grove requires occasional fires to keep pine trees from invading this ancient community. When an individual tree dies, another one grows in its place.

And, all the while, the Pando keeps flourishing.

I could have been describing the Christian Church, couldn’t I? Except for the “flourishing” part. While the Church continues to grow south of the equator and in parts of Asia, not so in the U.S. and Europe)

As Christians we are 2.18 billion strong. We are rooted through Christ in the Church. We need each other. Our history spans millennia. We’ve survived false prophets and persecution. In fact, hardship only causes our community to grow, often dramatically. Our strength comes from individuals united in love for our Lord, the world and for one another. We gain strength from our Creator and from each other.

That’s how Paul can so boldly declare, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free . . . Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 27).

The law of the jungle proclaims survival of the fittest and we’re all on our own. The rule of the grove is that we’re all in this together and that we need each other.

Some say the church is dying. But some things are worth saving.

© Ed Klodt, 2019

(Views from the Pews is written by Ed Klodt. He and his family are longtime members of Ascension. Ed earned his Master’s Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, has served as an interim pastor and has been a longtime lay minister at Ascension.)

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