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In our backyard we have a cherry tree. When I stand at the kitchen sink, I see it. When I sit at the dining room table, I see it. When I look out to the backyard, I see it. This young precious cherry tree - prominently displayed in the centre of the yard. It's beautiful.

It's also unplanted. Last March it was lovingly purchased, carefully brought home, and given as a gift to one of the folks I live with. The intention behind the gift was to plant the tree in a place where it would be able to blossom and provide fruit to other people. A simple notion, a symbolic gesture and the possibilities practically endless! Yet, almost a full year later, the tree still sits in it's plastic garden store container, having only moved from the gift giving hiding spot in the woods to the centre of the yard, so that it could receive full sunlight it needed.

A sad cherry tree - it's potential unknown and currently limited.

In March, when the tree was gifted, the ground was too cold and hard to plant - we'd have to wait until the spring.

In the spring, the discussions about where to plant became important. What did this little tree need? Where would it be able to grow safely? Who would appreciate it's fruit most? The conversations were easy enough - but all of us wanted to participate in the planting - and our schedules were not playing nice together. There was simply no time.

Throughout the summer, as our other garden was planted, grew, and early harvests enjoyed, the spring discussions about the cherry tree continued, without a different result.

Nearing the end of the summer we found a date that worked for everyone - the tree would be planted! The day arrived. Sadly, the little tree didn't get planted because a location had never been chosen. We went out looking for good spots, but questions arose about the care of the tree - would it be torn out here? Is it legal to plant it here? There were conflicting opinions and expectations. Frustration was in the air. The pressure of needing to decide THAT day and plant it NOW was too much. We went home. Nothing decided. Nothing done. Moods were not good.

Fall passed.

Now winter is here and the tree sits. Neglected. Seemingly forgotten. Sad.

It's a new year - and that often means hopes, resolutions, eagerness and a readiness to make the most of the coming months. Usually the focus is on our personal lives - but it's also a great time to look at the ministries we're involved with! As a deacon team take some time to review the hopes you had last year - what was good that you accomplished together - what areas would you like to grow in this year? What potential do you have? Are there barriers that need to be addressed? Attitudes adjusted?

My hope for you is that your year will not find you like the unplanted cherry tree - but rather that your dreams in God's hands will flourish and grow, and that your lives, the lives of those you help, the lives of those you serve and the life of your congregations will be blessed by your unlimited potential.

Happy New Year! 

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