The Cold Springer - Week of March 24th, 2019
Sunday, March 24th, 2019 - Holy Communion
The Kind Gardener
Then Jesus 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.'" From the Gospel of Luke
This parable helps to reconcile an issue that we have in the Church today; an issue that is characterized by two oppositional perspectives. On one hand, some people think (according to surveys, and I believe it) that young people are avoiding church because Christians are too judgemental. On the other hand, some Christians think that people are leaving the church because we have sentimentalized the notion of judgement and repentance and removed any vehicle for accountability and transformation. We’re either too judgemental or not judgemental enough. We can’t win!
In this Sunday’s passage from Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree after reminding those around him that everyone has their sins and to ignore them and leave them unchecked is to invite consequences. It is a reminder that we are all works-in-progress, but halting the progress may be the biggest sin of all.
In this parable, however, we discover the truth about God in Jesus Christ: God is patient and caring, even when it comes to repentance of our sins and amendment of life. God loves us enough to keep trying. Will Willimon, a professor at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina writes this:
“I can testify that one of the greatest challenges of being a parent is summoning the energy to discipline your children. It’s much easier to overlook inappropriate behavior, to look the other way when your children misbehave, than it is to take the time (and energy) to sit down with your child and try to explain, in ways that the child can understand, why the child’s behavior was inappropriate.
“My heart really goes out to single parents who are forced to work two jobs or long hours in order to provide for their children. I am in awe of those who still hold their children accountable, who dare to discipline the children because they love them.
“Christians believe that God loves us so much that God refuses to leave us alone. God keeps working with us, keeps attending to us, correcting us, showing us a better way.”
To invite Jesus into our lives is to invite judgement; but it is not a final judgement. It is one to which we can respond in grace and love. Jesus holds us accountable, he models for us the life that we are to lead, and we are always given a second chance. Jesus is a kind gardener, one who loves the Father and the fig tree. He wants the tree to produce good fruit for the owner of the vineyard, and he wants the tree to thrive for its own sake and not be cut down.
In a new book of Eucharistic Prayers for every Sunday of the year, Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher conclude this Sunday’s entry with a prayer:
God of all flourishing, through the fast of Lent nourish in your church a life that is wholly fruitful. Give patience to all who abide through long seasons of barrenness and long for new life. Tend and care for any who hunger for mercy and thirst for forgiveness. Bless your children when they seek restored relationships in church and community in a spirit of humble confession. Shape your people to hunger and thirst for the day when there is one shared flourishing for all, one feasting with you in glory, when with the saints, apostles, and martyrs your creation shall be, at last, wholly fruitful in you, one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Peace and All Good!
The Rev. Jesse Lebus
This week our students in the “Little Church” will continue to explore the life of Jesus and its narrative arch towards the Cross, and of course, to Easter Day! What is lovely about this series of Godly Play lessons is that it lands squarely in a mystery that young people seem to understand more than we might: That Jesus died, but he is always with us.
Godly Play is centered around the most elementary aspect of our Christian Faith, the stories of Jesus’ life. Knowing the stories is more important than knowing what they mean. Sometimes forcing meaning into the heart of a youngster only serves to interrupt the work of the Holy Spirit. That is why the Godly Play method introduces the children to the story and invites them to explore its meaning in their world. Turns out they know a lot.
There are three traditional areas of focus during the season of Lent: Service, prayer and fasting. These are the ways we prepare for Easter. This week our Little Saints will spend the first portion of the class considering service, or alms giving, while decorating a banner. When that is done the students will go to Bleecker Hall to help put together ingredient bags for the Stone Soup luncheon (March 24th!). The luncheon requires a little bit of effort by a lot of people, all of the proceeds go to support our outreach ministry. Please see the entry below to find out how you can help.
Elements of Faith
This week the students will leave from the big church to go to Bleecker Hall and help prepare the Stone Soup bags for parishioners to take home. Each bag is filled with ingredients to make 3 quarts of soup. The ingredients are brought this Sunday by the children of the church. See the entry below to find out what your child can bring.
Stone Soup Luncheon
Sunday, March 31st
11am, Bleecker Hall
This Sunday, March 24th
Please bring your ingredients!
Follow link below.
With a little food and a lot of love we can feed a church and help those in need. On the same Sunday as our Lenten Musical, St. John's Outreach Committee and our Sunday School students partner to organize the Stone Soup Luncheon during coffee hour. Proceeds benefit our outreach efforts.
Parents, please follow the link to find out how you can help: Stone Soup Luncheon 2019 Letter
Kids in Community
Wednesdays in Lent
March 13, 20,27
April 3, 10, and 17
6:30 - 8 pm.
A Lenten retreat for young people (8-11). All of us will eat together, but when the "Life in Community" program begins in Bleecker Hall the young people will go to the church to play games and create crafts, focusing on bible passages that touch on life in Christian community. A great opportunity for kids and parents.