Pastor Mike’s Musing…

Pastor Mike’s Musing…

Pine Processionary Caterpillars are interesting little creatures. Their name comes from the pine needles they like to eat and the fact that they travel in single file lines. One day a botanist decided to do an experiment to see how set in their ways they were.  He placed the caterpillars on the rim of a potted plant.  Sure enough, he noticed how the caterpillars had looped around the rim of the pot, and, when they came to their own scent again, they continued in their procession without a clue that they were going in circles.  For eight days the caterpillars marched without food.  At that point, the botanist had spread pine needles on the ground around the base of the pot to lure the caterpillars down.  One of the caterpillars, with a group following him, actually started down the outside of the pot toward the pine needles but stopped within nine inches of the ground.  The procession made a U-turn, went back up the side of the pot, and back into the loop.  That aborted trip proved to be the turning point, though. With the scent trail laid down, other caterpillars started following it over the side of the pot and venturing farther each time. Slowly, different caterpillars extended the trail to the ground and the needles. Eight days after they first made the loop, after marching about half a mile in a small circle, the caterpillars got something to eat.

Doesn’t this sound like our lives some times?  When we are frustrated and it seems like we aren’t moving forward, we say, “I feel like I’m just going in a circle.”  Churches can be like this, as well.  We keep doing the same thing the same way, but nothing ever changes.  Blindly, we just keep following the person in front of us all-the-while we’re just moving in a circular procession.

Jesus was the best example of someone who didn’t march in a circle.  He frustrated the processional religious leaders by healing someone on the Sabbath, or hanging out with unclean and unacceptable people, or challenging people to love instead of hate.  Eventually, he completely broke from the ranks of the religious by offering a one-time sacrificial act that brought salvation to the world.  The circle was permanently broken.

I love the direction we as a church are going.  We’ve decided to not march in a circle but focus forward and follow Jesus.  We are always looking for ways to touch the lives of those who are the least, the last, and the lost.  We are constantly expressing love where others tend to judge.  We look for ways to grow in our faith and then demonstrate that faith through acts of service.  We are even trusting God to expand our ministry by expanding our facilities.  Doing ministry in a circle doesn’t lead anywhere.  Instead, venturing off the rim to where God is leading us will cause us to be a healthy and growing church.

Let’s continually remind ourselves about the dangers of simply following in an orderly procession.  Let’s continue to listen to God’s radical direction for our individual lives and for our whole church.  In fact, as a reminder, maybe we should make the Pine Processionary Caterpillar our church mascot!  On second thought, we don’t need a mascot…we have the cross as the symbol of our forward-moving faith.