3 Lent

The Rev. Mary Grambsch

Opening Prayer – Your Word is a lantern to our feet, and a Light upon our path.  In the Name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

It is good to be back with you at Our Savior.  So many things have happened since I was last with you; we celebrated the opening days of the New Year, we waded through a very big snowstorm, watched the Winter Olympics, got smudged with ashes on Ash Wednesday and began the Season of Lent. 

Today and in the next weeks to come, we will be hearing parables in our scripture readings.  I love parables.  I love parables, because you can really put yourself into the story of a parable. The parable of the fig tree is very short – 3 verses long – but is profound in its message of judgment and mercy.

In today’s scripture we heard about Jesus being confronted by his fellow Galileans about something really horrible, Pilate (the Roman overloard) has killed their friends and fellow Galileans as they offered sacrifices to God in the Temple.  They expect Jesus to agree with them that the people that were killed must have truly sinned and done something to offend God, and so God allowed them to be slain. Otherwise, how could God have allowed Pilate to so pollute the Temple sacrifice?

Jesus, however, does not let them lay all the blame on others and not look at themselves.  He tells them that all people have sinned and need to repent, not just those unlucky few.  Jesus proclaims that sin is found in those who think the sin is only found in other people who have misfortune fall on them.  Likewise, the 18 people who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them were not the only sinners.  Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

Jesus then tells them the parable.  There are three characters: The Landowner, the Gardener and the Fig Tree itself.  The question we should ask ourselves is which of the 3 we are.
Are you the Landowner – impatiently looking for fruits on the fig tree and angered at finding none?
Are you the Gardener – begging for mercy and just one more chance for the tree to produce figs?  Ready to care for and nurture the tree so that it can become fruitful.
Are you the Fig Tree – a little stunted and unfruitful, needing some nurture?
Maybe you are a bit of all three? 

I must admit, I would love to be the Gardener in this parable, but for me, I am sure that Jesus is the Gardener.  Who else would stick up for a stunted, little, withered, unfruitful Fig Tree?  Who else knows what that Fig Tree needs to bear fruits?

Lent is the time to look deeper for God in your life and a time to look at the fruits of the Spirit that are in you.  This is a time to accept the nurturing Jesus offers so that you might become more fruitful. 

Where is that nurture to be found?
In reading and studying scripture; the story of God’s promises and mercy is found in scripture.  A comfort in distress and a challenge to live a loving and courageous life are both found in the pages of The Bible.
In prayer and quietness; spending time in prayer with Jesus, even a few minutes every day gives power and grace to your day and nurtures those good fruits of love, patience, understanding and compassion.
In caring for others; we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves and finding ways to care for those in need and help those who are sick, hungry, lonely and unloved produce amazing fruits of the Spirit.
In living everyday remembering that you are a child of God and becoming a witness, to that love, in words and actions, to every one you meet.
In following the traditional disciplines of Lent:  prayer, fasting and almsgiving; having a generous heart and open hands to share with others the gifts God has given you.

The list is really endless, because Jesus’ care and love for us is endless.  Everyday Jesus the Gardener gives us food and tender nurturing so that we might produce sweet and abundant fruits.
Fruits of repentance and grace,
Fruits of love for God and our neighbor,
Fruits that will last a lifetime,
Fruits that make our time on earth sweeter and heaven our reward.