Have you ever cared for a plant, making sure it has water and the right amount of sunlight, and then it still didn’t thrive, for some reason? Perhaps bugs or other critters got to it, or a nearby plant stole nutrients it needed, or maybe you just don’t know *what* happened. But it didn’t thrive. Didn’t become what it was supposed to. Didn’t bring the harvest you had hoped when you planted it. How does it feel, when you’ve cared for something – tended it, hoped good things from it – and it yellows or shrivels or just doesn’t bear fruit? Do you feel frustration? Disappointment? A sense of shame at your lack-of-green-thumb? Guilt that you didn't do more? Think of Jesus, coming across a fig tree when it should have been bearing fruit. He is angry that it isn’t doing what it was meant to do – nourish people with its fruit – and he curses it. Now, we know this isn’t just a hangry outburst happening here: Jesus is angry at more than this fig tree. To him, it is a picture of the way the leaders of Israel were meant to be tending, nourishing the people – and they were failing. There was no fruit coming from that tree. As you consider your own response to a plant you have watered and tended, but hasn’t flourished in the ways you had hoped/the ways it was supposed to… what does that connect with in your inner or outer world? What has been planted in you, in your community, but has just failed to produce the fruit you had hoped? What is your response to noticing this? Frustration? Disappointment? Shame? Guilt? If you don’t already have one, consider planting something in or around your home - as a way to live into what it is to tend something living, to feel what it is like when it thrives… and when it doesn’t. Let it be your prayer. And let your responses to its flourishing (or failure to do so) be part of that prayer, too. Express your anger. Don’t hide in your shame. Ask your questions. Notice God's response.

Posted by Jamie Bonilla at 2021-05-07 14:11:05 UTC