Includes Sermon Audio
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.
Collect of the day
O God, the fountain of life, for a humanity parched with thirst to you offer the living water that springs from the rock, our saviour Jesus Christ: stir up within your people with the gift of your spirit, that we may profess our faith with freshness and announce with joy the wonder of your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen
Isaiah 55:1 – 9
Psalm 63:1 – 9
1 Corinthians 10:1 – 13
Luke 13:1 – 9
Joshua 5:2 – 12
2 Corinthians 5:16 – 21
Luke 15:11 – 32
lent to – Luke 3:1 – 9
A thought to ponder upon
“a person had a fig tree planted in his orchard: ‘for 3 years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should I exhaust the soil?’ The gardener replied, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilise it; it may bear fruit in the future.”
The belief prevailing in Jesus’s time that disasters and catastrophes were signs of God’s anger against sinful individuals or people – those massacred in the Temple by Pilot’s soldiers during what the Romans perceived as a “revolt” and the workers who were killed when the tower they were building collapsed must have been horrible sinners. Nonsense, Jesus says in today’s gospel. In this present age, neither good fortune nor calamity are indicators of one’s favour or disfavour with God. In the age to come God will judge the hearts of every soul regardless of their situation in life.
The parable of the fig tree is a parable of crisis and compassion: the fig tree draw strength and sustenance from the soil but produces nothing in return. Its only value is as firewood. A similar fate awaits those who squander their lies in greedy selfish pursuits. God is the ever patient gardener who gives every “fig tree” all the time, care and attention it needs to harvest.
The parable of the fig tree has been called the “Gospel of the 2nd chance.” The vinedresser pleads for the tree, asking that it be given another year to bear fruit. We always live in hope and mercy who keeps giving us “2nd chances” to rise from the ashes of sin to rebuild and reform our lives.
Despite the sadness and tragedy that can cut down our lives in disappointment and despair, God continues to plant in our midst opportunities that to start over, to try again, to rework things, to move beyond our hurt and pain to make things right.
Unless our faith takes root within us and becomes not just the rituals we perform but the values that inspire them, we are like the barren fig tree in the Vineyard: lifeless, giving nothing to others, good only for firewood.
The challenge of the gospel is to take up the crosses of our lives – the crosses that are part of every human experience – and transform them into vehicles of resurrection, seeds of new life, the means for bringing light and hope into life’s winters capes of darkness and despair.
Christ calls us to embrace the hope of the fig tree and the determination of the gardener, to remember that God’s endless grace enables us to experience the promise of resurrection in every “death” and Good Friday we experience.
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The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.