Luke 13:1-9

Luke 13:1-9
The parable of the fig tree is a metaphor for God's care as well as Gods expectation. The care is seen most clearly in the willingness of the land owner to give the tree one more year to do what it has not been able to do in the previous three years: produce figs. Care is also seen in the willingness of the gardener to give the tree special attention—to nourish it—with the expectation that this year will indeed be different or it will be cut down.

Each Lenten season is an occasion for experiencing God's care and responding to the expectation that the awareness of God's care engenders in us. Paul Tillich noted that the first and most important response to God's care and love for us is to accept the fact that we are accepted. The second response, however long that may take, is to bear fruit.

May we bear the fruit that is expected in response to your love for us. Amen.
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Luke 13:1-9 (NRSV)

1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?

3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.

4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them--do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?

5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."

6 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.

7 "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?'

8 "He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.

9 "'If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

Luke 13:1-9

Luke 13:1-9
There are certain events in which we participate or hear about that do not seem to fit within our normal expectations of how things are to work. Such events cry for an explanation, especially when they appear to be random, arbitrary or call into question our sense of justice or orderliness. This text from Luke presents Jesus with two such events, both having to do with suffering that appears to be undeserved or excessive.

Like those who came to Jesus seeking an explanation for such events, it is tempting for us to make sense of or protect ourselves by attributing fault or blame to those who suffered. For Jesus, however, it is not a matter of who is more or less sinful or at fault. It is instead a reminder that apart from God's love and our willingness to live in that love there is no meaningful future for any of us.

May our temptation to find fault and blame be replaced by a willingness to love and serve. Amen.
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Luke 13:1-9 (NRSV)

1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?

3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.

4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them--do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?

5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."

6 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.

7 "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?'

8 "He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.

9 "'If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Paul's letter to the young Christian communities scattered around the Mediterranean world are full of gratitude, encouragement, teaching and counsel. But he was also not averse to calling them to account when he thought that they were behaving badly or placing their trust and hope in something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, Paul places before his audience the story of their ancestors, whose reliance on being people of the covenant did not protect them from their own choices. These choices led to God's displeasure because they "desired evil." Their idolatry, sexual immorality, willingness to put Jesus to the test and complaining led to devastating consequences.

That is not what Paul expects of the Corinthians as a response to God's love. Rather than trust in themselves or their status as chosen ones, it is God's faithfulness on which their lives are to be built, life which will enable them to endure any test that may come.

In our hour of testing, be thou our guide and stay. Amen.
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1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (NRSV)

1 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,

2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

3 and all ate the same spiritual food,

4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did.

7 Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play."

8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents.

10 And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.

13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Psalm 63:1-8

Psalm 63:1-8

This time it is the psalmist who reminds us of the critical importance of water. As for the prophet Isaiah, the thirst of the soul is as important for the psalmist as is the thirst of the body. And in a dry and weary land where there is no water, the thirst of the soul is perhaps surprisingly more easily satisfied because "your love is better than life."

God's steadfast love draws forth the psalmist's unending praise. Even in the watches of the night—those times and occasions when we may be more susceptible to doubt and worry, those moments when things look hopeless and even despair is close at hand—even then, God's steadfast love and the memory of being sheltered in the shadow of God's wings can become an occasion for meditation which replaces fear and leads to joy and thanksgiving. Even in a dry and weary land, the presence and love of God upholds us.

Loving God, thank you for providing shelter in both our sorrows and celebrations. Amen.
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Psalm 63:1-8 (NRSV)

1 O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips

6 when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Isaiah 55:1-9

Isaiah 55:1-9
The persistent and continuing drought which began in the Midwestern United States in the summer of 2012 is a reminder, if we ever needed one, of how dependent we are on water for the flourishing of life—and how easy it is to take its availability for granted. Access to the water that is necessary for all of life's processes is likely to become a growing challenge throughout the whole world in the years ahead.

The thirst for water serves as a metaphor for the prophet Isaiah. He reminds the people of Israel that there is another kind of thirst which needs to be quenched if life is to be sustained at the level of meaning and wholeness. Unlike water, however, what is necessary to quench the thirst for wholeness is in unlimited supply. It is a gracious gift of God offered without the need of money and without price in an everlasting covenant of love.

Quench our thirst for wholeness, O God, through what you have promised to give: your love in an everlasting covenant. Amen.
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Isaiah 55:1-9 (NRSV)

1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

3 Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.

5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

7 let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When Peace Like a River? (?It Is Well with My Soul?)

When Peace Like a River? (?It Is Well with My Soul?)
He lives, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Bliss. Glorious thought. Praise the Lord! It's not only about our sorrows or trials or helplessness or even Satan. It is about sin, our whole sinful condition, which was nailed to the cross when Jesus was crucified and was raised from the dead.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Even with our hopes for the future, even so Jesus is with us now. It's not a matter only of a happy ending but of a journey with Jesus, where he taught us to say, "It is well, it is well with my soul."

Thank you, dear God. Amen.
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When Peace Like a River? (?It Is Well with My Soul?)

1 When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

2 Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

3 He lives, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

4 And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

When Peace Like a River? (?It Is Well with My Soul?)

When Peace Like a River? (?It Is Well with My Soul?)
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Old words, old piety—but still powerful. Whether peace or sorrow is our lot, Jesus has taught us to place our trust in him. And it will be well with your soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Death, trials, storms, evils—no matter what—Jesus knows what assails each of us in our helplessness. And he has given his life for us, forever.

Thank you, dear God, for your Son, our Savior. Amen.
Hub
When Peace Like a River? (?It Is Well with My Soul?)
1 When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

2 Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

3 He lives, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

4 And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)

Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."

32 He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.

33 "'Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.'

34 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

35 "See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Luke 13:31-35

Luke 13:31-35
Jesus is on his last journey to Jerusalem. He has been teaching and doing life-giving acts for those who follow him, but his enemies continue to oppose him. He is warned to keep out of Jerusalem because Herod intends to kill him there, but Jesus sends word that he must continue to Jerusalem, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem. Why? Because Jesus intends to bring good news to all people, a mission that goes back at least as far as Abraham. The insiders will have none of this, despite the fact that it is God who has willed both the content and the timing of why and where Jesus must go.

We also hear Jesus' sorrow over Jerusalem, when God wishes to gather the people as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but the leaders reject God's will.

O God, may we cling to Jesus even in the confusion within and around us. Amen.
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Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."

32 He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.

33 "'Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.'

34 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

35 "See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Philippians 3:17-4:1

The apostle Paul traveled constantly after his calling by Christ Jesus, making disciples from Jerusalem to Rome. Paul also wrote letters to the congregations he had begun. Philippians is one of his best, teaching new Christians to pray, preach, teach and live. Paul makes the risky claim that members of the congregation should imitate him, knowing that he is not perfect, but also that righteousness is solely from God.

Do you remember the old question, "What are you giving up for Lent?" We thought we were supposed to deprive ourselves and please God by suffering. Why not instead give up the bad things we say or think or do? Gordon Lathrop, professor emeritus at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, has suggested that we really should call Lent a "joyful fast." Isn't that what Paul is urging the Philippians to do in these verses?

Dear Lord, help us give up sadness, meanness, envy, hatred, cynicism, cowardice, false witness and the like, so that this Lent may be a joyful fast. Amen.
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Philippians 3:17-4:1 (NRSV)

17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.

18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.

19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.