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Moderators Devotions

Devotion for the meeting of the Synod Executive Committee Meeting, 28th August, 2014.


One of the more interesting crops that is grown is the Moso bamboo tree which is technically a member of the grass family. In it’s native country of China, moso bamboo forests cover  about 7.4 million acres and are grown mainly for their edible bamboo shoots and the timber.  Since ancient times, from thousands of years ago this bamboo has been used for construction; for building houses, bridges and scaffolding as well as being a food source.


Nowadays the moso bamboo has become a popular alternative flooring material praised for its resilience to normal wear and tear and resistance to moisture. It is also used for chopsticks, cutting boards, pulp for paper, for fencing and even briquettes for barbeques. China now exports the shoots over to the United States and they would be the bamboo shoots eaten in Chinese restaurants.  Bamboo beer is now also being produced from it. In addition to this, the moso bamboo is now being considered as a renewable energy source. In Germany bamboo bio oil has been produced in a laboratory setting. 


The moso bamboo is the largest variety of bamboo in the world. The name “Moso” is a Japanese version of the Chinese name “Mao Zhu” which means “hairy bamboo” referring to the new growth’s covering with a soft velvety pubescence. The stems, or culms, are huge compared to the leaves which are extremely small giving the plant a light feathery look. The leaves begin on the stem about 30-40 feet above the ground.   When air passes through the groves of bamboo, it can be cooled by up to 15 degrees. For the growing of this kind of bamboo plant, warm temperatures and large amounts of water are needed – about 71 inches of rain per year.


Probably the most interesting feature of the Moso bamboo plant is how it grows. It is actually the fastest growing plant on earth and can grow up to 47 inches in one day and close to 80 – 90 feet in six to seven weeks, almost the height of a nine story building.  This type of bamboo does not grow seed very often and the way to establish a completely new plant is to take a Moso bamboo stock, a section of rhizome about 18 inches long, then bury it completely in a hole three feet deep. Then it has to be watered  every day for five years.  During that time, nothing seems to happen even under absolute ideal conditions. But the watering has to continue. Then, about the 1825th day after being planted, it will shoot through the ground. Then it will grow and grow astonishingly fast.


One may wonder why did this tree seem to do nothing in its first five years. Well, it was actually doing something which was critically important. It was sending out a massive rhizome and root system that would be able to support its massive growth when that occurred. So its first five years was spent in getting ready for the massive growth that was to happen.


You know this is often the way God works with each of us. To see this we just need to go and look at God’s Word. If you look at Abraham, well, God promised him a son. But then he had to wait 25 years before he received his son, Isaac. Then there was Jacob. He cheated on his brother Esau by stealing his father’s blessing but then had to flee from his home to save his life. While he was traveling he experienced that high point when he had the dream of that stairway to heaven with angels going up and down and the Lord appearing at the top of the stairway saying that He would be with him. From there though he spent the next 21 years working for Laban, his uncle, who himself was a worse cheat than Jacob, tricking him into marrying a woman he did not love and changing his wages about 10 times.


One of Jacob’s sons was Joseph, the one with the coat of many colours. He was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, spending years as a slave but then was falsely accused of adultery and attempted rape so was thrown into prison a further number of years before becoming Egypt’s second in command  under Pharaoh.


Looking at Moses we see the same pattern. Prior to leading the Israelites out of Egypt, he himself spent 40 years in the wilderness looking after sheep. King David was the same. He was anointed King of Israel probably in his teenage years and he slew Goliath and was lead guitarist for the rock band playing for King Saul but then had to spend years as a fugitive with his life always in danger and even came to the point when he thought that he would never become King of Israel as God had promised but would be destroyed by Saul.


When you look at these guys we need to ask; what is going on here. Why does God allow His servants to go through years of hardship and wilderness type experiences where nothing much seems to happen?  Well, I think that the Moso bamboo tree will tell us something here.  To see and experience growth in the outer part of a person’s life like flourishment in ministry or doing something great in God’s eyes, the roots and rhizomes within that person’s character have to be set to grow and to grow deep in order to sustain that person through whatever God is calling him or her to do. So God has to spend years refining people in the inside before they can show too much of fruit on the outside.


As the Otago Southland Synod I believe that this illustration of the Mozo Bamboo plant applies to us. The reason for this is that we are helping parishes grow their foundations of roots and rhizomes by giving them financial and moral support in order for them to grow in character and abilities so they can produce fruit. So we are playing an important role here and we should not underestimate the value we are to God’s purposes here in Otago and Southland.


However, we may well feel frustrated and impatient with ourselves or the church, or God even, wondering how long is it going to be before we will be seeing any fruit coming from our efforts but the message of the Moso bamboo plant tells us that God may well still be growing our spiritual roots and rhizomes. So, perhaps we need to do the following;

1) Be expectant but be realistic in our expectations.

2)  Have faith. You will reap what you sow but that does require persistence.

3)  Know that every step you take in God will have meaning and move you towards your destiny.

4) When doubt creeps in, remember the amazing Moso Bamboo tree.     


Think of a wheat or barley plant. After the seed is sown it grows and then matures producing a seed head with its seeds. But then before the seed can be harvested, it has to ripen which means that the plant itself bearing the seeds dies. And you know the same pattern is required in us. We need to grow and mature, then develop the gifts and talents that God has given to us. But before we can be of any real use to God, we too have to ripen which means dying, not physically like the wheat or barley plant, but dying to our own selfish ambitions and purposes. Then we will be producing the fruit that God is wanting us to produce.     

In John 12:24 Jesus said; “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.”  And from Galatians 6:9 let’s keep in mind the words; “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  

Presbyterian Synod Of Otago and Southland.
Phone: {03} 477 7365
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