Sermon – Feb. 24, 2013

Posted on February 24, 2013


Lent 2 – Parable: A Fig Tree that Bears No Fruit
Luke 13:1-9, 31-35

(Phrase Approach – Not a full text)

Insert – From the Desk (worship planning), Theme Information

Theme Title – Rather see parable as encouraging fruit (not what will happen if NO fruit)

Approach scripture with a couple ideas from the end, then a couple ideas from the beginning

All are significant ideas to ponder… just touching them as we move toward self – fruit


1) Warning Against Herod

Unique in Luke, consistent with overall themes: like Mary’s song (shall overturn the powers, justice themes)

A mid-way point in Jesus’ movement toward Jerusalem

Why the Herod concern?  (not clear)

Herod (and similar powers) cannot really understand Jesus and concerns

Jesus presents a kind of threat (to those with power and money)

People of God run into deception and wily efforts to undo – like a fox

Like Jesus, we are encouraged to continue faithfully


2) Lament over Jerusalem (contrast with Psalm 122)

New central reality in our current world – our lifetimes

(Note that Luke was written a decade AFTER the Roman destruction of Jerusalem)

In Jesus’ journey toward the realities of Jerusalem, there is no turning back – course is set

Lament contains sadness, this is said in the sense of God (MY Jerusalem, MY people)

People would not listen, Jerusalem is destroyed

A certain quality of ominous… eventual ride into Jerusalem (passion)

Nature of Laments – in faith there is proclamation

God exists, hears our cry, has power to turn the lamentable toward something good

Capacity to look to the future with hope

We, the readers, know what lies ahead in the gospel story, in our own lives


3) Unjust Suffering

The case of unjust suffering (Pilate wreaking savage destruction)

Jesus, “Are these victims worse sinners?  Or, how about those killed in collapsing tower?”

We have recent events: Tsunami – 2004 Indian Ocean (200,000 people),

2010 Haitian earthquake (over 300,000 people)

Ongoing realities of humans wreaking randon destruction – hear of examples daily

A usual and familiar point of view – “There is a reason for human suffering, and it usually has to do with something in the past of a person’s life, something that is evil.”

Similar to see fortune as result of one’s virtue (Song from Sound of Music… somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good)

Joan’s father: “Life isn’t fair, but isn’t life great?”

Jesus doesn’t explain… but uses this as a springboard to focus toward self

A kind of randomness works in life

Justice of God thinking often too simple (though familiar)

Though popular (God is in total control of all, so look for a “reason”)

These are attempts to see quick remedy – God’s reality and presence is more veiled, complex

There is another kind of tragedy (perhaps more important in realm of God’s presence)


4) Parable of the Fig Tree

Primary focus of this message

Note of enduring grace – and recognition of eventual finality – a kind of encouragement toward faithful living – stewardship of self… always new opportunity and possibility of living as one of God’s grace-filled people

Tree is barren for three years (a kind of allusion toward resurrection hope and possibility?)

God is patient, enduring… is there a limit?

God’s grace is greater than God’s judgment

God’s grace ought not be seen as “casual indulgence” or “indifference”

Rings true for our own lives of faithful living as well

Listened to a recorded Harry Potter book (lots of miles) – words of Dumbledore

One character of another – not hatred, but regarded as unworthy for much interest or notice

“Indifference and neglect will often do more damage than outright dislike.”

The Fig Tree story seems to apply to each of us – we are designed to bear fruit

Paul offers these words in Romans, “Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance (other ways to live)?”

We, as God’s people can have “hard hearts” but are encouraged always to encounter and choose other ways to be.

As people made to be God’s own – as proclaimed in baptism – every day and each turn of the moments are opportunities to choose bearing fruit… the essence of loving God and loving neighbor as loving self… it all joins together in oneness and we are in positions to choose.

In marriage encounter workshops, I used to teach that “love is a decision, attitude, a way to be.”

Show me “faith without works” (grace) and I’ll show you “faith that works” (design, goal)

Paul’s Fruit-of-the-Spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and more (Galatians)

So – Bear fruit, choose actions of love, BE people of God in faithful living – prayer/hymn

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