Do you remember this one? Probably my first SUNDAY SABBATH STUDY, DAY #6. We are back at it, today!

I grew up with my best friend, Ben. He was my older brother, by 14 months. I adored him from the moment I met him, my mom said. Almost all of my memories growing up had something to do with him.

  • I remember my dad sitting on the brown-carpeted window seat in our bedroom, playing the guitar and singing to me and Ben, “Jelly Man Kelly”. And we would wear my dad’s scrubs shirt, from the hospital, as pajamas. Because that was the cool thing to do.
  • I remember Ben learning to read Dick and Jane.  And I would sit in the bathroom while my mom fixed my hair and my brother would read to us.
  • I remember racing my dad through the parking lot, to the car.  He sometimes let me win, and Ben would be wearing his black and white checkered shoes, and he would run quieter than us, because, he told me, he was training to work for the FBI.
  • I remember scolding Ben when he didn’t say “please”.  He retorted, “I shouldn’t have to say ‘please’!  The scriptures don’t say ‘PLEASE don’t kill’ or ‘PLEASE keep the Sabbath day holy’!”   I remember this not because I was offended by it, but because it made PERFECT sense to me!
  • I remember Ben didn’t like chicken, so I swore off chicken as well.  I got sent to bed without dinner that night. And I cried and I cried. But I wouldn’t budge.
  • I remember sitting over the heater vent with Ben in the livingroom to warm ourselves, while watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating saltine crackers.
  • I remember the smell of the sprinkler on the grass in our backyard.  All the neighbor kids would have a competition – who’s parents would let them turn the sprinklers on the highest.  Ben and Sarah and I were always more likely to win when we were being babysat!

We are older now. But Ben still has a big part in my life. I still choose to let Ben influence me.

We have been studying Jacob 5 – The Allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees this week with the children, in our family scripture study.

CHARACTERS:

  • The master of the vineyard
  • The servant to the master

STORY:

  • A tame olive tree was nourished in a vineyard by the master of the vineyard. “And it grew and waxed old, and began to decay” (Jacob 5:3).
  • And he pruned it and nourished it and dunged it, “but behold, the main top thereof began to perish”(Jacob 5:6).
  • “And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard saw it, and he said unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lost this tree” (Jacob 5:7).
  • The master and the servant go on to graft branches and move branches from the natural tree to other parts of the vineyard, in an effort to save the natural tree and the natural fruit. And some good fruit is born. And some wild fruit is born. And, discouraged, the master cried out to the servant, “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41).

Just this morning my brother, Ben, shared with me some of his thoughts on the situation the master of the vineyard found himself in:

“There’s an analogy in Jacob 5 which I’ve recently found really meaningful. Early in the chapter the Lord of the oliveyard mourns over the bitterness of the olives which have grown. He wonders why they’ve gotten so bitter. His servant offers an idea:

‘Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves’ (Jacob 5:48).

So the Lord and the servant come up with a plan to balance out the roots and the branches, and successfully return the good flavor of the olives: ‘and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof’ (Jacob 5:73).

I loved this image of a tree’s topmost branches stretching, yearning upward, as its roots dig simultaneously deeper into the soil. We practice certain poses in yoga which corporealize this precept.

I thought of the importance of balancing our own upward-reaching aspirations and efforts (following protocol, education, honing certain skills, professional advancement, etc.) with our rootedness in Christ. That’s how we ‘bring forth good fruit.’ And I’m grateful for the ‘good ground’ (Luke 8:8) and water (John 4:10) and sunlight (Malachi 4:2) He provides to ‘prepare the way for [us], that [we] may grow’ (Jacob 5:74).”

On a side note, the children were trying to figure out which yoga pose their uncle, Ben, was referring to in his interpretation of the allegory.