Rev. Katherine Todd
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
We are responsible. We are responsible to God for the space and life and breath we have been given. We are responsible to God and to one another for the earth we inhabit and the food we consume. We are responsible for what we leave behind – our waste, our relationships, our legacy…
God has entrusted us, each one, with gifts and talents, with energy and ability, with love and mercy, with food and drink, with air and water, with earth and sky. We have been given much. And to whom much is given, much is expected.
The point of all that we’ve been given is not to simply comfort and satiate ourselves. God certainly does comfort us. God certainly does satisfy us. And these many good gifts of God are often the ways and means by which we experience God’s love and provision, comfort and joy in this world. But the end of this comfort and joy, love and provision is not ourselves. Our lives are not the main point. Our joy is not the destination.
Now in life, we need joy. Joy is what makes this life worth living. It invigorates; joy begets life.
But our joy and comfort alone are not the main thing.
Rather, Christ died that ALL might know God’s love.
Jesus came to the chosen people of Israel SO THAT they might become a city on a hill, a light to the nations. Jesus walked among the people of Israel but had his sights on all people. Jesus lived and died not just for the people of Israel but for all people.
WE have been called by God, drawn to this place, drawn into fellowship with one another and in deepening relationship with God, but our own personal well-being is not the end of this journey, for God’s heart is for all.
As long as there are people in this world living in the shadow of death, there is work to be done. As long as the world groans in pain as we litter and poison it, there is work to be done. Until the Kingdom of God comes, in fullness and completeness, we have work to do. For God’s heart is for all that God has made.
And so coming back to our own means and provision, joy and comfort – these gifts are not meant to stop with us.
We have a responsibility to love as we have been loved.
We have a responsibility to comfort as we have been comforted.
We have a responsibility to give as we have received.
We have a responsibility to forgive as we have been forgiven.
And in-so-doing, we spread the love and light of God like a wildfire that burns in hearts and lives and communities. In-so-doing, we become a light in the darkness. In-so-doing we usher in the Kingdom of God.
So as we hear this parable of the fig tree, may we remember that while it is good that we enjoy the many delights and resources we have been given, these many gifts are meant to keep going, to keep giving, to be the seed of a mighty tree, the first drops of a mighty flood, the planting that reaps a harvest through our very lives.
You and I are God’s handiwork. You and I are beautifully gifted. You and I are infinitely loved.
And with all this goodness that surrounds our lives, may we not become reservoirs but channels of God’s goodness and love! Indeed, when we close ourselves off, stopping the flow of God’s goodness through our lives, we ultimately stop the flow of God’s goodness into our lives. But when we open the floodgates, and let God’s blessings flow in and out of our lives, we become conduits of God’s greatness, beauty, and surprising love.
Like the fig tree that blooms and bears fruit,
our lives sustain and nourish many!
May our lives be full of the joy and bounty of our God,
and may many,
come to know God’s infinite love,
and surprising grace…