I may have taken Sunday’s passage (Luke 13:1-9) too literally!
On Monday I spent several hours in the garden (at our house in Hughes) digging around the plants, weeding and pruning and I am definitely feeling the effects of it now! (There has been a lot of moaning and groaning each time I need to use my legs! A lot!) But the good news is I discovered lemons on our lemon tree (transplanted when we extended the house eight years ago)!
Hopefully the passage inspires more than a spurt of gardening! Hopefully it also encourages us to think about how fruitful our lives are. Are we producing ‘fruit’ that will nourish those around us? Are we producing ‘fruit’ that will benefit others and our world?
It is extremely challenging to think about the passage in reverse. Just as we assume (fairly frequently) that those who experience misfortune are implicated in some way in their misfortune, so we assume that our good fortune is evidence of our goodness. But cultivated yet unproductive trees may continue to live – even without bearing fruit – only because they have been granted additional time to do what they are supposed to do. Our good fortune is evidence only of the mercy and grace, the forbearance of God. We are called to be fruitful trees.
There are ways that fruitfulness surprises us! I discovered a tomato plant intertwined in the branches of my lemon tree on Monday, also bearing nearly ripe fruits (or nearly ripe vegetables!) Often, in some random story or encounter, we discover our lives have borne fruit we were unaware of.
But bearing fruit also requires us to be attentive to what God is doing; the digging around our roots and the manure that God is spreading! We need to spend time with the gardener of our lives; time in prayer, time in God’s word, time reflecting – sometimes with a wise friend – on life events – and then we need to get on and grow! We need to respond to God’s tending and care fruitfully.
So over the next few weeks of Lent, can I encourage you to pray and grow! Find an extra few moments during your day to ask God how you can best be fruitful at this time. Look for those opportunities to produce lemons and tomatoes, apples and oranges, plums and figs and whatever it is that God has created you to produce!
Each of the next three weeks will have a special focus in our bulletin which I hope will encourage fruitfulness in our congregation:
- This Sunday, 27 March, we are going to have a special focus on the Flood Appeals in the bulletin. That is an opportunity for you to give in ways that will produce fruit.
- Next Sunday, 3 April, we are focusing on Relay for Life and how we can support cancer research, cancer prevention and helping those whose lives are impacted by cancer.
- Sunday, 10th April, we will focus on refugees. There will be opportunities to write letters, to give and to join the Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees at 1pm in Garema Place, Canberra.
Grace and peace – and the blessings of time, rain, sun, soil, fertiliser and a constant, caring gardener!