One of the strangest, mysterious, and most resilient trees in the world is the Pacific Madrona tree. The Madrona is a tree that doesn’t know how to be a tree. It’s an evergreen that has cinnamon-red bark, twisting branches, and beautiful red berry clusters. It produces these berries when no other tree is bearing fruit. It’s one weird, but a wondrous tree.

The tree grows in western Washington, Oregon, in the San Juan Islands, and on Vancouver Island. The tree only grows at the most unlikely places for a tree to grow: in rocky, coarse soil, on slopes and bluffs, on the very edges of a river or shoreline. 

Angling and twisting strangely off-kilter, the gangly tree assures its long life by reaching for water and sun. The Madrona’s ferocity and irrepressibility is the admiration of all gardeners and botanists. Defying everything we know about trees, it sheds, not its leaves, but its bark. Like a lobster with its shell, the Madrona peels off its red outer layer to reveal a fresh smooth amber new skin, which will later grow red, thick, and protective again.

Let God renew our hearts and our faith this day by learning lessons about who we are from the Madrona tree. First Corinthians reminds us that we are all members of the body of Christ with the reminder that one part of the body can not say to another part, “I have no need of you.” Nor can we say to members of the body Christ that we have no need for them. 

We should fully embrace all members of the body. Today I want to talk about one of the many members of the body that often gets forgotten. This body member reminds me of the trees. Some of them are strange and mysterious like the Madrona and others are sturdy and strong like the oak. See, in order for trees to get significance, they have to be around for a while. 

Some members of the body have been around longer than most of the rest. In churches, older folks can too often be forgotten. This is especially true once a person is no longer able to drive or makes their way to a retirement village. Churches like to spend a lot of time seeking after young families. That’s not a bad thing to do. Bringing in new life is always good and refreshing. That’s part of why I’m here as your associate pastor. Yet there is so much at stake to be lost when we forget to see all the people. 

So let us remember that we are all members of the body together. We are always on this journey of life and journey of faith. We are all seeking to become more like Jesus – every day of our lives. This journey doesn’t end when we retire. Discipleship, with any person, begins with relationship. So let us be like the Madrona tree that is constantly reaching out. 

Not a single one of you is dispensable. 

Church, let us get out in the community to see all the people, build relationships and show folks that not a single of them is indispensable either!  


Pastor Trevor

Pastor Trevor Vaughn
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265