Sunday Devotion: 17 March 2019, Second Sunday in Lent

Sunday Devotions

A fiery warning and a humble gardener

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Main readings: Genesis 15.1-12, 17-18, Ps 27, Philippians 3.17-4.1, Luke 13.1-9

Supplementary readings: Ps 121, Galatians 4.1-11, Ps 119.121-136, Exodus 11.1-10, Luke 22.39-53

“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.’” (Luke 13.8-9)

Growing up in Africa, we had a gardener who had been raised by Scottish missionaries. He was a serious man and I kept out of his way, but I would watch him delicately caring for the garden and humming hymns to himself. I respected his passion for his work and was compelled by his love for creation and his God.

In Luke 13.1-5 Jesus tackles the misconception that ‘bad things only happen to bad people’. He uses examples of innocent folk who died too soon to challenge this assumption. At the same time, he urges us to repent, turning away from sin that brings chaos and suffering into God’s good world.

Jesus then likens God to a gardener with unfathomable patience and tenderness. The gardener is ordered to chop down a fruitless tree, but he defends it and gives it another chance. He will nurture and care for the tree that it may thrive.

In Jesus we discover that God is passion and love. As my gardener friend was serious, so God is serious about sin and encourages us to cut out anything that holds us back.

This passion for righteousness is informed by God’s love and shouldn’t cause us to avoid God, but to run towards him and experience his passionate loving embrace!

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