February 28, 2016 Sermon
Spring has sprung in the Creston Valley, I hope. Look around and you can see the flower bulbs starting to pop up through the soil, brown grass turning to green grass and birds beginning to sing as they fly back from migrating down South. My tulip bulbs are already pushing up out of the soil. The scripture readings this third week of Lent all centre on food and thirsting. God calms us and tells us everything will be okay and he will provide all that we need. In 1 Corinthians 10, we heard that “God is faithful and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but during the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
I am certain that God knows everything. I have been so busy and stressed these last couple of weeks with finishing a university course in which I was writing a 20 page research essay. You will never believe the topic. Ready? Anxiety in elementary students!!! I think I was full of anxiety just trying to write and finish it by my deadline. I also finished teaching my Grade 4 class on Friday, taught my piano students and also wrote report cards. As I carried on throughout the week my mind kept saying “Am I ever going to get this done by the weekend. Then I began thinking about my message for today, I couldn’t believe the scripture 1 Corinthians and the message it really spoke to me. How true it is!!!!! I firmly believe that God will not give us any more than we can handle. You have to have trust in him that he will guide you through your life and its path.
The Lenten season is a time of reflection and this third Sunday’s readings are all about repentance, food and thirst as mentioned above. We repent about where we have gone wrong and which areas in our spiritual lives we are neglecting. In Luke, we heard the Parable of the fig tree. This parable is all about a gardener who came upon a fig tree in his garden and truly wanted it to produce fruit but it hadn’t. Have you ever come across a fruit tree in your garden and had to make a choice? Cut it down or save it? In this parable, the fig tree is a metaphor for Israel or Judah. The fig tree was well known as one of the most important trees in Israel. Its fruit was a staple food and there are many symbolisms throughout the Bible. The fig tree is both shown practically and symbolically throughout the pages of the bible. The fig tree is also an emblem of the Jewish people which has lots of leaves but no fruit. Eventually the temple in Jerusalem is destroyed which continues with trying to destroy the Jewish people. The gardener eventually saves the fig tree by asking it to be given one more year and see if it bears fruit or not next year. Give the tree another chance. Compare this to life. An amazing analogy with the Jewish people is:
If we go back in time to the end of WW2 and about 1945, the Jews under great difficulty and opposition began to filter back into Palestine. In symbol we could liken this to the planting of the branch. Three years later, in a similar way to the tree, the first buds appeared. In 1948 the time when the first young fruits would appear on a literal tree planted three years earlier, the state of Israel was proclaimed by the United Nations. And not only that, it was in May 1948, which would have been the time of the appearance of the young fruit on the natural fruit trees.
Has anyone ever given you another chance, another chance like a fig tree?
When Abraham Lincoln was a boy he husked corn for three days to pay for a second-hand copy of “The Life of Washington.” After he had read the book he said, “I don’t always intend to delve, grub, shuck corn, split rails, and the like.”
“What do you want to be now?” asked Mrs. Crawford.
“I’ll be president!” Lincoln replied.
“You’ll make a purty president with all your tricks and jokes now, wouldn’t you.” was her response.
Not about to be discouraged young Abe said, “I’ll study and get ready, and the chance will come.”
The chance came and Lincoln became one of the greatest Presidents in the history of our Nation.
It shows us to keep trying and trying. Take lots of chances! Give other people a chance too. If you someone does something wrong, give them another chance. Think how many people gave up when they didn’t get another chance. Think what a great fig tree you could be nurturing with these extra chances.
This parable also wants us to see if we can become more like the gardener and tend our spiritual selves. How can we draw closer to God? How can we let God be the gardener in our lives and nurture us so that we bear fruit? We must repent what we have done wrong in our lives. Don’t take too long or procrastinate. Do you starve your soul without even knowing you do it? You don’t say yes to a joy filled life and you dwell on your addictive behaviors. You carry around with you a negative energy full of swear words, complaints and rudeness. There are ways to change this type of behavior in your life. It is easy to spot the people that are full of life. You can see where God is the gardener in their lives and nurturing them. Look at Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra or Angelina Jolie. They make a mindful effort to give back and help other people. They have a positive energy about them. These people even though they are famous seem to appreciate small things and have open hearts. Oprah Winfrey has been quoted by saying, “You have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.” Deepak Chopra said “If you want to do really important things in life and big things in life, you can’t do anything by yourself. And your best teams are your friends and your siblings.” Angelina Jolie quoted, “We have a choice about how we take what happens to us in our life and whether or not we allow it to turn us. We can become consumed by hate and darkness, or we’re able to regain our humanity somehow, or come to terms with things and learn something about ourselves.”
On a website called Abundance Tapestry, it states that there are 25 ways to nurture your soul. Try a few of these this week:
- Take walks in nature and notice everything.
- Engage in creative art eg. create a scrapbook from your favorite photos.
- Sing in the shower, the car, the bedroom, anywhere!
- Listen to soothing music.
- Put on some music and dance.
- Read a good fictional book.
- Savor every bite of your meal.
- Meditate in serene surroundings.
- Soak in a bubble bath.
- Go on a relaxing vacation.
- Bake a cake.
- Visit a museum or an art gallery.
- Watch a comedy. Laugh!
- Write poetry.
- Do arandom act of kindness.
- Play the violin or any musical instrument.
- Connect with your romantic partner via an engaging conversation over tea.
- Connect with your spirit guides.
- Make peace with the person you just fought with.
- Volunteer your services to a non-profit organization and not just via a monetary donation. Open your heart chakra!
- Play with your kids.
- Journal or write creatively.
- Say yes to a new adventure!
- Find every reason to celebrate and feel the joy when you do!
It says at the end of the article to make a date with your soul. When I think of my soul, I think of God. God is in my soul. During this season of Lent, think about how you can let God be the gardener in your life and lead or nurture you to be the bearer of his fruit. If you are so busy during the week that you don’t stop to nurture your soul – make a date with it. The article continues with saying “Do what lifts your heart, tickles your funny bone, arouses your curiosity, and invokes your sense of wonder. You feel more alive, when you begin to savor the joy and beauty that comes from within. Your experience of joy takes place when you are fully in the present moment of doing.”
God’s blessings to each and every one of you and I hope that I will see you soon when I am up and about. Please say a prayer for me.