Luke 13: 1-9
â€œNot drowning, wavingâ€
In todayâ€™s Gospel Jesus is talking my language when he talks of people by using the imagery of them as a fig tree that has been fertilized with manure, and if youâ€™re like me you know what itâ€™s like to be in the manure with only the depth that varies. Yet Jesus uses this analogy as a good thing in that it helps the fig tree to grow, helps us to grow.
Before my current healthy lifestyle of a strict diet of all foods healthy (not) I visited a doctor and for the first time, told him how it truly was. Later when he received back the test results he remarked that â€œthe positive results did not seem to make senseâ€ and suggested â€œthat physically it is a minor miracleâ€. Likewise some would suggest that Iâ€™m here talking to you as a Pastor may be a miracle of the same ilk. But somehow, I am here and somehow, you are here. Somehow, while travelling through the ever present manure of life we turned this way instead of that way-and that I suggest is the miracle because in those moments when the world closes in, in those dark, dark times whether we be a victim of others actions or of our own actions, the way out can appear a long way off-maybe even out of sight.
Somethingâ€™s just donâ€™t make sense and never will.
When I was in a remote mining town one of the first people I met was a charming and friendly young man at the cricket. Several weeks later he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment after a young touristâ€™s body was found in the foetal position down a mine shaft. How does either of the families of those two young people carry on in life? It is beyond comprehension the scars that they must bear and may we never know such pain and that saying â€œthat thereâ€™s always someone worse offâ€ rings true but the fact is, we all do carry our own scars of life with us. Scars that can destroy us, scars that can strengthen us and scars that are still open wounds.
I was speaking to a person once who was dying and was concerned of what his standing will be before God as he did not have enough time left to make up for the wrongs of his life and when Jesus tells us, tells me in todayâ€™s Gospel to repent or die I would be more than a little concerned if I did not understand the word repentance.
The word repentance, like sin is often used as a weapon and accordingly misunderstood in our world. And if you donâ€™t agree try getting on your soapbox in Macquarie Street and voicing your opinions to those present that they are sinners who must repent or die. Itâ€™s offensive because it suggests that they are sinners and we are not and that the only way out is to maybe drop tools and join the monastery.
That they and we must repent is true. But far from being it being a curse that Jesus demands we do to ensure that we are miserable, he asks us to repent so that we know freedom, because to repent is to turn towards God. Not to be miserable, but free of our misery.
Jesus asks us repent to free us from the bondage of the scars we carry and says you donâ€™t have to do that any longer. You donâ€™t have to worry what others think of you or even what you think of yourself. You donâ€™t have to prove to the world and yourself that youâ€™re worth something.
Sometimes our lives can be a bit like starting pre-season training or renovating a house as when you look back you think if only I knew that was going to happen I never would have started. Yet somehow we are all here today scars and all. Scars that God did not bring on us. But scars that somehow he used to bring us to hear of Christ, to somehow bring us to turn towards God in repentance and be free.
As they say God works in mysterious ways and how he has worked through our â€œstuffâ€ is unique to us all and how he has adapted to our situations is a testimony to His concern that we understand Him and know His son Jesus Christ who in his love accepts all how they are and says I gave my life for you, to bring you forgiveness and eternal life.
Yes God works in mysterious ways and indeed we have seen one today in the Holy Baptism of Hayden. Baptism is a gift from Christ to Hayden as he travels through this world knowing he wonâ€™t have to look over his shoulder. It is a promise towards eternal life and a gift for everyday prior knowing that Christ gave us a very straight forward message, â€œBe Baptised and believe that I am the Son of God. The Saviour sent to earth to bring you forgiveness and eternal lifeâ€.
Christ has promised to Hayden to know that surety and the freedom it brings and Christ reminds us today of that same freedom we have in him. So live, truly live knowing that in the dark Christ is there guiding you home and when in the light, revel in it in thanks for a man who gave his life for us.
Christ has given Hayden a promise signed with his own blood that on his journey he never need to wonder. A promise that he offers to all that they too may know peace.