by Heidi Regier Kreider
Rooted and Built Up in Christ is the theme selected by the WDC Executive Board for 2017, WDC’s 125th anniversary year. The theme is based on Colossians 2:6-7: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
The word “therefore” in these verses suggests that we should check what precedes them: Earlier in his letter, the apostle Paul writes, “In our prayers for you we always thank God… for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. …For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:3-6, 9-10)
The fruits of love, hope, truth, wisdom, good work and knowledge are possible only when our lives are rooted in Christ and growing. Roots bring nourishment and water to the plant. Roots are like the foundations of a building, firmly established to give stability and strength to the structure above the ground.
As we consider the 125th anniversary of WDC, roots and foundations represent our history and what we have been taught. They symbolize what we have received from those who have preceded us, those whose legacy and contributions have helped WDC become what it is today. At the same time, we are “rooted” not merely for our own preservation but to be fruitful and “built up in Christ.” We are established in the faith in order to share the good news of God’s grace with others and join God’s work of healing and hope in the world. Bearing fruit is a sign of health and vitality, and assures continuity of life. As we consider the 125th anniversary of WDC, fruitfulness and being “built up in Christ” represent our future in the years to come.
Recently, WDC staff members explored these themes in an annual staff retreat at Camp Mennoscah, through conversation and some playful hands-on activities: rooting plants in pots of soil, building structures out of Duplo blocks, and coloring drawings of roots, plants, and buildings. We shared stories of our personal “roots” – experiences which have shaped us and people from whom we have received faith. Then, we considered what roots have shaped WDC, and how God is building us up to bear fruit in the future.
WDC’s 125th anniversary is a time to share stories of roots and fruit, to tell how God has established the foundations of our past and is building us up for faithful work in the future. The WDC Executive Board is planning ways to celebrate this at WDC annual assembly in August and in the months that follow.