Roger's Postings

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Luke 13:6-9.                        “Another chance’ for another year!                          31/12/17

(6)  Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. {7} So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' {8} "'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. {9} If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"

Here we are again at the end of one year and the beginning of another. They continue to roll on, one after another. The older one gets the quicker they seem to go; and perhaps the more that we give little thought to their passing.

Yet here again we do give some thought to the past year – whether it was good or bad. Things to be thankful for, and challenges we think we could have done without. Things done that we shouldn’t have done, and things not done that should have been. New life come into our lives, and others that have passed on. So much has happened in the course of this past year.

Overall each one of us will have different perceptions of the year past. But I am sure that we all have much to be thankful for and we have our disappointments and sadnesses. That is life for us all.

The same then goes for the year ahead. We know not what it has in store for us. As much as we might be looking to this coming year with longing and hope, we know that it too will have its ups and downs; its joys and sorrows.

To top it all off, we have here a reading that cuts right to the bone. Yes, it is only a parable – a story – and we might like to pass over it very quickly. Yet here we have a message from God that is vital for us to ponder over, and find encouragement in. As we contemplate the end of one year and the beginning of another, we have here an important message for us.

As God has looked over this past year in our lives, what does he see? A nice-looking tree, seemingly fresh and green; or an old withered, gnarly tree, but still alive and going. But where is the fruit? Nothing much to show for another year in this world. Lots of activity, but nothing much worthwhile achieved. What is the point of letting them continue on? Why should they use up valuable space here on this earth?

But no, what do we hear instead: 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' How amazing is that! Another chance for another year. No, more than that he will tend and feed them and do all that He can in order for that fruit to be there next year.

With that in mind we need to consider the question; What is this fruit that he is looking for?

Now straight away most would say that it is all about ‘good deeds’ – it is about love and care and all that kind of thing. So how can he say that he could not find any fruit on the tree. Obviously, he is not talking about me. But even many of those completely outside of the church can be just as ‘good’ as those on the inside. We like the idea that this fruit, is the things that we do.

Then at least we do have something to show in our lives. Yet the Scriptures are quite clear that our best is as a filthy pair of underpants. Anything less than perfection is not acceptable. So even on that score we are left with no fruit to speak of.

On top of that we are reminded in the Bible of that real struggle we have to produce the good deeds that are required. What does Paul say in Romans:  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Our sinful, selfish human nature is constantly messing things up. So when we look to ourselves there is no real fruit to speak of.

So where does that leave us. In big trouble. Definitely needing the chop. However, this is not what God had in mind, so he seeks to dig around us and feed us with the fertilizer that we need. He seeks to do in and through us, what we cannot do ourselves.

First and foremost, that is that he came to die on the cross so that we might be forgiven. He draws us to himself through baptism so that he can join us to himself so that we can have new life and all that we need in order to bear fruit.

Then through Holy Communion he gives us his very body and blood so that we can be reassured again and again the he forgives us for our failures. But there he also gives himself so that we can be sure that he is right there with us as we go through life every day. Through his Word he continues to feed us with all that we need in order to stay connected to him so that he can work in and through us to produce his fruit.

I guess, then the question has to be, do we want this feeding and nurturing that God has for us? Or do we want to close ourselves off from and push away this wondrous help that he has made available to us. Do we want to produce this fruit that is good, or do we want to continue to live as we please, irrespective of the outcome?

Surely though, this parable is very clear that if that is our choice, then we best be prepared for the end result. The axe is ready, and the fire is sure. If there is no fruit the message is clear.

But to the question then, what is this fruit that he is looking for? Surely then in light of all of this, it is repentance and faith. It is a recognition that we are not the people that we should be and that from within ourselves we can do nothing to right the situation. No matter how hard we try, we cannot and will not be good enough. We need help from outside of ourselves.

That then means we will look to the one sure hope that we have. And that, is all connected up to this Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. We will look to God as our one sure hope for us as we go forward. He alone is the way and the truth and the life. He alone has the forgiveness and the wherewithal for us to be the people that he would want us to be.

So that is where faith comes. We will trust that he alone can make us be what he wants us to be. He alone can truly forgive. He alone can help us to stand. And he alone can work the fruit that is needed. That is what he has promised; and so we will look to him and trust the he will do it.

He wants to and will lead us then to regularly gather in his presence. He will give us what we need through Word and Sacrament to remain strong. He will be with us as we go about our daily lives. He will continually remind us of all that is good and helpful for us. In connection with him we will flourish and bear fruit.

So, the only thing that can go wrong will be if we choose to reject and turn our backs on this food and nurture that he has for us. He is here, and he has all that we need, so it would be stupid of us to not avail ourselves of it all. So also we need to ensure that the devil, the world and our sinful selves, do not distract us and keep us so busy that God is not able to do what he has promised to do.

So, as we conclude this year and set out into the year ahead may we be ever mindful of this parable and the truths that it imparts to us. In and of ourselves we are barren and fruitless. But as we turn away from our selves and look to Jesus Christ we will find all the nurture and food that we need in order to be able to go forward boldly and confidently. As we look to him and seek to remain in him, we are already bearing the fruit that he is looking for. Then he will help us to do those other good deeds; such and love and care for others. He will work that all in and through us. To him then will be all glory and honour, now and forever. Amen.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Post a Comment

<< Home