top of page
4/17/22 Easter Sunday Sermon "Heartwood"

4/17/22 Easter Sunday Sermon "Heartwood"

Play Video

"Heartwood" Easter Sermon

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Can you imagine being the Roman Guard guarding the tomb that first Easter morning? Well neither can I, which is why when Anna sent me this TikTok, I literally laughed out loud! 😉 I hope you do to 😉 

I had a similar reaction when I learned about the Heartwood of Olive trees. Did you know that Olive Trees are known as some of the toughest, most resilient, longest living trees on Earth? Seriously, you can chop down an olive tree, right down to ground, and it lives. They survive pests and old age, wounds and wars, assaults and storms, human catastrophes and natural disasters…. Olive trees can even be burned down to the ground and they will sprout up and grow again. In fact, they need the worst winds, bad weather, storms, and droughts, etc. to naturally prune themselves and flourish. 

All of this, and many more reasons are why the Olive Tree is lifted up by almost every faith and culture as a symbol of peace, connection, reconciliation, wisdom, resilience, and victory.

A tree expert will tell you that an Olive Tree’s “trunk and branches do not actually live forever. They hollow out and die off many, many times over the course of the life of the tree. However, the root and the parts of the olive tree that are underground do not die of natural causes. They sprout and send forth new trees again and again….”   


The palm crosses you received this morning are all from olive trees around Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. If you couldn’t make it this morning or are worshipping with us online, send us your email and we’ll gladly send you your own Palm Cross. Each was individually carved from a unique piece of pruned Olive Tree wood. They are designed to fit comfortably into the palm of your hand as is an aid in prayer and meditation. It is the ideal spiritual companion for easing a child’s fears, comforting a parent’s worries, soothing the stress of life. 


I’d like to invite you to hold your palm cross in the palm of your hand. Feel it’s texture. Put one of it’s nobs between your fingers feeling it support and message your finger joints. Take in its practically perfect imperfections. 


Just like you, each Palm Cross, although similar in shape and size and color, is unique. Just like you, each Palm Cross, although one of God’s most beloved representations of Christ’s love, is distinctive. Just like you, each Palm Cross, although it has similar responses to the good, the bad and the ugly of life, is like no other in the world. 


Just like you, each Palm Cross has some light, almost cream or tan colored parts in its wood. Those are literally seasons when the Olive Tree had just the right amount of sun, the perfect amount of water, the right amount of nutrients. Those represent the times in your life when everything seems to be going just perfectly, just the way they’re supposed to go, everything is going according to plan.     


Do you see those dark rings or grains in the wood that sort of look like squiggly lil veins running here and there? Those are the result of when the Olive Tree experienced stress. It could be from a season of drought, or flood, a season of too much sun and threatening heat. It could be from when the tree was bent or literally broken and its life was threatened.

You see, God brilliantly designed the Olive Tree to focus the tree’s resources on the stressed, damaged, threatened part of the tree so that the tree can heal. The tree rushes sap to that area to protect it from infection. The healing, protective sap hardens and the stress, trauma, and danger the Olive Tree endures literally become the strongest part of the tree.  

Your Palm Cross’ dark squiggly lil, vein like areas are called the Heartwood. It’s when the heart of the tree literally rallied around to support, heal and strengthen the threat to the tree. 

God brilliantly designed you in a very similar way. When you get a cut, or bruised, your body focuses its resources on the injury to heal it, flush it out and prevent infection. Once fully healed, the resulting scars become the strong parts in your skin. 


Take a look at the Palm Cross of a person close to you while you hold yours so someone else can see yours. Some of them have more Heartwood, more of those dark vein-like lines than others not because of any fault of their own, rather simply because they have been through more difficulty, stress, and life-threatening situations. In fact, it makes sense to say that those Palm Crosses with more Heartwood are technically stronger. I guess we could call them beauty marks. 

Now, here’s the heart of the matter (pun intended). Here’s something to TikTok. Here’s where year after year like that Roman Guard, we say, “What?!”  your Palm crosses are in the shape of the slowest, most brutal form of state execution mankind has ever created. If God can transform that into the most recognized, adorned and beloved symbol of sacrificial, unconditional, nonjudgmental love the world has ever known, just imagine what God can do with the bad, ugly and injustices in your life?!


Inevitably, about halfway through every mission trip I’ve ever led, there’s some conflict and some tension and some home sickness that mixes together with everyone being tired, and irritated and on their last nerve. And we gather, we pause, and we breathe, and we process what’s happened, what’s going on and with God we reconcile things. It’s one of the most beautiful, Godly, transformative experiences of life. That’s when I hand everyone a palm cross, tell them about Heartwood, and assure them that whenever difficulties or crisis or outright injustices arise, if we focus on God’s will, those injuries will be healed and they will become the strongest parts of our lives. They will become the Heartwood of our lives. 

Friends, Over and over and over again we see in the Bible just as we see in diagnosis and in diseases and in wars that “Life is Difficult.” That is to say that you can do everything right, follow the letter of the law, cross every “t” and dot every “i” and there are still going to be difficulties, and crisis, and injustices in life. The real question then is, are you going to allow God to do what God does, and make them into the strongest, most resilient, most healed and healing parts of your life; are you going to allow Christ to transform them into Heartwood? 

God did not need to do this, but God did. Because God wants Christ’s tears to mingle with yours so that someday they can dance together. 


bottom of page