Sermon - March 24, 2019 - St. Martin's In the Desert

burning candle

Sermon – March 24, 2019

March 24, 2019 
Third Sunday in Lent 
Year C

First Reading: Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm: 63:1-8
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10: 1-13
Gospel: Luke 13: 1-9

God Hears Our Cry
Exodus 3:7

Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

The Gospel today is divided into two parts.

When I read the readings for today’s sermon…I was a bit nervous to say the least. Wow! How am I… who am I to explain this?

I thought immediately of my mother.
Someone with high school education.

Lost her father at the age of 12 and she had to help work on the farm.

She, like many in those days had it hard, much harder then we do.

We had our share of loss, but mom never blamed God…not once!

When I had a high school a girl friend of mine was murdered by her husband,
I ask mom why?
She told me sometimes good people have to die, we don’t question God why?

He will give us the answer some day.

In today’s lesson we have the two tragedies.

Luke 13:1-9
We should not be surprised that Pilate ordered a group of Galileans to be slain,
while sacrificing in the Temple at Jerusalem, their blood mingled with their sacrifices.
Pilate has proven that he will kill Jews that disagree with him.
And the other incident, a tower of Siloam collapse on others in Jerusalem,
killing 18.

It is known at the time, that sever tragedies or calamities happen to only people who deserve God’s judgement,
in other words, only the truly righteous were spared suffering.

“The crowd is anxious to hear what Jesus has to say.”

He asked them,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way, they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.
Jesus does not see any differences in these two tragedies, the loss of life is the same to God.

Tragedies like these, are not uncommon to us today.

We see pure hatred at its worst.

In the last weeks, we also had two tragedies… they are so unthinkable, they hurt deep within our soul, as we watch families in their uncontrollable grief.

First the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet that crashed after takeoff in Ethiopian killing 157 people on board husbands and wife’s, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, friends and babies… from 35 countries.

And if that wasn’t horrible enough!

One of New Zealand’s darkest days was the massacre in Christ Church, killing 50 and wounding many more in a mosque… as they were in worship.

If you were on an airplane or killed in a mosque by a deranged mad man.
Jesus see’s no difference.

For 2000 years we have asked Why?
I feel when terrible things happen, like these two kinds of events, and
leads me to realize how precarious our time is.
Am, I ready?

But as I said a few Sunday’s ago, Jesus does not want us to retaliate against our enemy.

In our Collect today:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul.

Not, all things that happen to us are just fate.

Many times, we “can” bring bad things on ourselves,
and it “can” be our fault that we might suffer and possibly die at the consequence of something we did.

If a young man is traveling down spring mountain road on a motorcycle going 120 miles an hour, zig zagging in and out of traffic, if he should crash, he just might die and that is not God’s fault or is it God’s way of punishing him.

Jesus, didn’t deny the connection between sin and disasters,
many bad things happen, because of our human sin.

Another news last week was the Scandal on college admissions.
If you pay and scam your way in, for your child to go to the most elite university of
“Your Dreams”
you just might get caught and you will pay for your sins.

Jesus wants us to be ready when the time comes.
Suffering is not a form of punishment. He does not single people out, but it can be away of waring us that we need to be ready.
God does not, want us to suffer.

Lent is the time of realizing our sins and
fragility and mortality, we face.
Are we Ready?
Second part of the Gospel:
Then Jesus has a parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found note. 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 not. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I did around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”

Five years ago, shortly after we moved into our house.
My sister came to visit and we would sit at the dining room table looking out the back door into a yard that was just dirt.
We wanted something to look at but dirt and the brick wall.
So, we went and bought a lime tree and planted it into a pot.
We put up a bird feeder and also put my birdbath nearby and we spread red landscaping rocks on top of the dirt around the tree, birdbath and feeder.
“Now There” we have something to look at.
No matter how hard I tried, my tree continued to look bad, each winter we would move it under the patio and cover it up. It would get leaves in the spring, but slowly each main trunk of the tree would start to die from the top down.
I would threaten the tree that if it does not start showing signs of living, I was going to get rid of it. Every year Jayne would say, are you going to get rid of this tree? I would respond with…well let’s see how it does this summer.
I am pretty sure this is the last year, it only has one green stem and it is a shoot root. 🙂

With all that, why did Jesus tell that particular parable of the fig tree?

For Jesus, the real sin is not bearing fruit when we have been given the responsibility to do so.

The voice of the gardener shows mercy and God shows us mercy, he has taken steps

to help us be fruitful.
God is always on our side. He always sends us help and encouragement in our need to change and live fruitful lives.
We may not always understand when bad things happen to good people, but
Like Mother “said” to me

He will give us the answer some day.

During Lent, our Gardner which is God, ask us to shed our old selves and grow new

healthy stems and leaves and bare fruit to spread and share.

We are planted where we are and we are called to be responsible disciples, who do God’s work in whatever calling we have.

Jesus is the answer to the sadness and discouragement and division in our world.

He can take the sadness and discouragement out of our lives and replace them with optimism and hope.

We need our hearts to be attuned to God, through an abiding faith in Christ.

God has forgiven us and brought us new life in Jesus, and we still come to him,

seeking forgiveness and that new life.

The choice is always ours, and God is always ready to forgive.

May forgiveness and new life be ours today.


Rev. Lola Culbreath