Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday - one more year

Prayer:  Creator God,  You nourish us through Your Word and through the goodness of this land.   Help us to nourish those who need extra care.    You never give up on us even when we turn away from You.   Help us this day to take Your love and reach out to others who need Your Word and Your goodness.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Luke 13: 6 – 9

Jesus then tells a parable about why everyone must repent and turn to God. 
A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard.  For three years he would look forward to eating figs.  But for three years the tree never produced any figs.    The man asked his gardener to cut down the tree as the tree was obviously useless.   The gardener  asked that the fig tree be given one more year.  The gardener would fertilize the tree and dig around the tree.  If the tree didn’t produce next year,  then the man could cut down the tree.

One more year.  Wait one more year.  Fig trees were one of the most common trees in Palestine.  They bear fruit ten months of the year.    Fig trees grow in rocky soil to the height of 40 feet.  No small feat for one large tree on rocky soil.

Earlier,  Jesus had been telling the people to repent and turn back to God.  Some commentaries suggest that Jesus is using the analogy of the fig tree as the nation of Israel.  The nation is populous but it too was no longer bearing fruit…. while the people of Israel were many,  they were no long  remembering God.    

Waiting one more year.  When our Churches have a program that is not working,  do we give up in despair and say, “That’s it.   That program is done and gone”.  Or should we be like the gardener… should we tend the program and give it our prayers and best efforts for one more year and see what happens?  

Jesus gave us a wonderful example of all programs and events at Churches.  After three years,  the program or event needs to be evaluated.  If it is not doing well,  then we need to give the program or event our focus for one more year.   And we also need to figure out what is a good measure to evaluate the “health” and “fruitfulness” of the program.    For us today,  it isn’t necessarily the growth of numbers of people in attendance that is important but the growth of Christian maturity in each participant.

In new Church development,  the experts say that it takes a minimum of five years in order for the Church to grow spiritually and in numbers.    It takes four or five years in order for the people to grow together as a community.   New Church Development does not happen over night.   Like the fig tree,  New Churches take time to grow into trees that provide fruit.   But  we can’t stand back and just watch the New Church grow,  we have to push up our sleeves and help the New Church grow in nurture and spirituality.  It is not easy work.  But God never said being a Christian was easy.

Work of the Synod:   Today remember in prayer those who are meeting by Conference Call (due to snow and freezing rain)  for the Presbytery of Superior meeting.
Prayer:   God of unlimited love,  we thank You that we are drawn to Your Church.  Help us to not become discouraged when our numbers drop and our programs disappear.  Remind us that in all things,  You love each of us no matter what happens with our Churches.   Provide us this day with an opportunity to help Your Church bring Your love to this world.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

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