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     This Week's Focus: "Bearing Fruit"
           Click the link for Luke13:1-9  

 


















 


Dear Friends,

From childhood, we have been taught that Lent is a time for fearless moral inventory… for auditing our shortcomings… for recognizing our need for repentance… for recharging our spiritual batteries.

Without a truly loving and forgiving God, what a wretched time this could be…  particularly when it feels like our list of failings just never gets shorter. We seem to be making the same dumb mistakes, over and over. As Yogi Berra would say: “It’s deja-vu all over again.”

But Lent was never meant to be a forty-day guilt trip… a squalid season of wallowing in past mistakes. Lent is not a time for hand-wringing. It is a time for spring cleaning… a high-energy period of clearing the decks… a time to prepare to reconnect with the risen Christ. That means recognizing and packing-up our sins…  for Christ to come, collect them and take them to the cross for our forgiveness.

Thankfully, God loves us and forgives us, over and over. He knows us through and through. He made the clay from which we spring. We have been in his heart since before time began. We are his beloved, warts and all.

How many times have we asked God for just one more chance? And he has given us that one more chance… and another and another. One lesson of this week’s gospel is: God’s mercy endures forever. While we have life, God does not give up on us. Don’t give up on him. We are all sinners, not in the hands of an angry God, but in the arms of a loving Savior.

God’s love pursues us tirelessly in the person of Jesus Christ… the embodiment of God’s love. He is our Savior, our friend, our role model, our confidant… our window into the will of God.  Jesus is all these things… but he is not a party crasher. His love surrounds us. But it does not invade us. We must invite him in. We must welcome his love, nurture it and protect it.

We take God’s love for granted at our peril… when we ignore it… when we abuse it… when we give up on it. Far worse than any other sin of commission or omission is despairing of God’s love…  rushing to destruction by denying ourselves the opportunity for mercy. That’s why there’s Lent… our annual opportunity to re-energize… to reconnect with God. With the return of Lent, Jesus reminds us once again that while life endures, it is never too late to reconnect, to repent, to be reconciled with our heavenly Father.

The main theme of this week’s gospel is spiritual growth. We see that the vintner can prepare the soil, prune the branches, purge the pests and nurture the plant. He can do it year after year. But ultimately the vine must respond. Without fruit, it is just taking up space, wasting precious time and effort. It is headed for the fire. And frankly so are we, if we don’t turn to him, throw our sins upon the cross, ask his forgiveness and make a firm resolve to live in and for his love.

Simple advice, but sadly the world is full of people who are much too clever and far too proud to take it. And no wonder. In popular culture, practicing Christians are portrayed as naïve dopes at best and more often than not as smarmy hypocrites who are the villains of every plot. How un-cool to search your soul, name your sins, take responsibility and ask for God’s forgiveness. But Lent is the antithesis of cool. It is a time of searing self-awareness. It is a time for re-igniting lukewarm faith and fanning the flame of Christ’s love.

Time is the precious currency of life. This Lent let’s invest it where it will give the greatest return. Spend more time with Jesus every day. Read his word. Seek his guidance. Walk with him on The Way of Love.

Knowing that Lent leads to Resurrection… through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, ask his forgiveness… thank him; praise him; love him. Share his love with everyone in your life today. That is the reason God put the universe in motion. That is the fruit that we were planted here to bear.   

God love you!


 

A Reflection for 
The Third Sunday in Lent
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

 
Copyright © 2019 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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