lockdown lessons no.4: roots

This week I have planted a series of seedlings, thanks to Grow Speke and my friend Michael, who donated them. Tomatoes, sprouts, runner beans, kale (I like that word!), spring onions, carrots…

All have to do now is to water them, to protect them from pigeons and hope for the best. Much depends on the planting and the soil. Have I planted them deep enough? Is there enough manure? Are they rooted? Time will tell.

Got to Go Back

Rootedness is key to growth.

I was chatting to my neighbour Jean the other day about our mutual fascination with ‘family trees’. “My kids aren’t interested”, she said. “They’re probably not old enough”, I replied, “when I was their age I wouldn’t have been interested either!”

The older I get the more interested I become in where and whom I came from. Last year I visited my homeland of Cornwall and spent a week walking the lanes I had walked as a young man, looking to recapture something – a memory, an essence – from the past.

It reminds me of ‘Got to Go Back’, a song by Van Morrison (see video below), who himself is much preoccupied with the former things:

Got to go back, we’ve got to go back Got to go back, got to go back. For the healing, go on with the dreaming.

Over this lockdown period I have found myself led back to the roots of my spiritual journey. This quest has taken me back to Cornwall, to my Methodist upbringing and secret fascination with ancient Anglican churches, and to the personal revelation and encounter with Jesus Christ I had in the winter of 1986, an encounter which was to revolutionise my life overnight.

The Main and the Plain

Shortly after I left Cornwall for London, where I joined an informal Anglican church and came under the indirect influence of the Californian church leader, John Wimber.

Bishop Sandy Miller said in his Daily Telegraph obituary of Wimber (and I paraphrase) that history would prove that John Wimber had the single greatest influence on the Church of England of anyone since John Wesley. A grandiose statement perhaps, but to a great extent true, as the generation first influenced by Wimber now effectively run the show.

The teachings, and more importantly the practice, of John Wimber are the roots of what I believe, and seek to practice. Still. Summed up in the title (and chapter headings) of a book of his writings, The Way in is the Way On.

Wimber used to say that ‘the main thing is the plain thing’, and as followers of Jesus our first priority must be those things He has made plain to us:

  • live under Grace (not law/rules)
  • give God His worth in every aspect of our lives (worship)
  • rely on God’s mercy
  • lead as servants
  • trust the Scriptures
  • ‘remember the poor’ (Galatians 2: 10)
  • seek justice
  • live as Kingdom People in the ‘now and not yet’
  • pray for the sick and suffering
  • expect sign and wonders
  • embrace the Whole (catholic) Church
  • walk The Way in the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit

These are the ‘plain things’ of the Jesus Life emphasised by Wimber, and indeed by many others. I might want to add ‘respect creation’ to this list.

Someone else (I can’t remember who) once said (and again I paraphrase) that before we consume ourselves with the things we don’t understand from Scripture, it might be better if we attend first to those things – especially from Jesus’ teaching – that are plain and clear.

In other words, getting back to the ‘root’.


The Latin word radix, from which we derive the English word ‘radical’, means ‘root’. In mathematics it refers to the base number or primary source. To be ‘radical’ then is simply to return to the root.

As Paul the Apostle wrote to the church in Colossae:

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.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2: 6-8

In these days of mass [mis]communication it is so easy for the Jesus-follower to be captivated by what John Wimber called the ‘world-system’ and its philosophies and counter-philosophies, many of them devoid of truth, deeply deceitful and anti-Christ.

Better to be rooted in Jesus Christ and His teaching. The Primary Source. The plain and the main.

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