I have a little calamondin tree in my yard that typically produces bushels of calmondins! An abundance of fruit! But last year- barley anything. I thought “It’s because I didn’t cover it with that tarp like my wife told me to the night it went down to 32 degrees.” I was going to cut it down thinking it was dead. But the tree didn’t die; lots of green leaves. It just didn’t produce fruit. My horticultural friend Charlie Parsons said to me; “Maybe it was in a dormant year. Sometimes they do that.” They can have a dormant year? Who knew?
Maybe you are having a dormant season…
Jesus on the journey to Jerusalem tells a story. Luke remembers the story and shares it with the church in his gospel. It is a story about repentance. We know that because the word repentance is repeated in the text several times. And the little fig tree story is about repentance…. facilitated by patience.
“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?’ The Gardener 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: 6-9
What does the word repentance mean? To change…to change one’s thinking, to change a behavior, to turn around or change direction. It often has negative connotations…of parochial fanatical judgementalism, or characters like Elmer Gantry or Robert Duvall in “The Apostle.”
But when Jesus uses the word, “repent” here it is meant as a life giving word.
A fruit bearing word. It is life claiming ……versus behaviors that lead away from life.
Turning toward repentance is less about focusing on shame from our past and more about claiming the life God offers in our future. Turn toward the person God is calling you to be! Jesus told those gathered that all of them – and us – have reason to repent – to change the way we live, think, and love. The reality is that we don’t always live as Christ calls us to live; but the gift of God’s mercy is that we don’t get what we deserve. God’s action here is not based on how little fruit we bear. God’s action here is based on God’s love for us. And God’s love for us is more than we can imagine. Thank Heaven God gives us chances to try again.
If there is something in your life that helps you serve and honor God, that makes good use of your life, that bears fruit, if there is something in your life you are thinking about getting around to, “this is the day the Lord has made…”
Maybe you are having a dormant season…God is merciful.
And yet….you might want to take advantage of the opportunity of the week ahead.
“Lord, where are you calling me to repent? Send your Spirit to nurture me to try again. Help me change my dormant self toward your living truth God– and change my life.For Christ’s sake. Amen”