By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 13:1-9
1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or 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? 5No, 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. 7So 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?’ 8He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
It’s worth reading a bit of this morning’s psalm again:
For God alone my soul in silence waits;
truly, my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.
In God is my safety and my honor;
God is my strong rock and my refuge.
Put your trust in him always, O people,
pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.
I have been pondering, lately, what it is for our hope to be in God. Not in leaders, not for peace, not for plenty — but in God. Maybe we need two separate definitions of “hope.” There’s the hope that’s appropriate for expressing things we want, even things we know we need, of which we are unsure of having. Then there’s hope in God, which is wanting to see everything as God sees it, to want what he wants. And we can be sure that what God wants will come to pass. It is a certain hope. To want what God wants is to be willing to let go of the lesser — if very good, even needed — hopes, if and when they conflict with the greater.
But what is it that we can be sure God wants? In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus describes God as a landowner ready to root up a fruitless tree. And the gardener (Jesus) steps in and says, “Give me another year; I’ll lavish care on the tree and we’ll see if it can’t produce fruit.” God wants us. Let that sink in a moment. God wants you. He wants to save you, to make you holy and fruitful — and all he asks is that you trust yourself to him. He’s not even asking us to do the work; he’s only asking that we let him come and care for us, and place our hope in the only thing that’s sure.
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Diocese of Rockhampton (Australia)
Diocese of Delhi (North India), the Rt. Rev. Warris K. Masih
Docese of Kutigi (Nigeria), the Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Kolo
All Souls’ Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma