Online Service: Sunday, 20/03/2022: Third in Lent

Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree? Bible Symbolism and Parable Meaning

OPENING SENTENCE-
My soul thirsts for you, O my God

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

The first commandment is this:

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

There is no other commandment greater than these.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Description: Description: Description: Confession under section 67 NDPS Act to be admitted or not, yet to ...

CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.

There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,

forgive you and free you from our sins,

heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

LENTEN PROSE/KYRIE sung by Sue Turner

COLLECT

Merciful Father,

we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves,

when we are discouraged by our weakness,

give us strength to follow Christ,

our pattern and our hope;

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING Isaiah 55: 1-9 read by David Kerr

An Invitation to Abundant Life

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
 come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?

Isaiah 55:1 Inspirational Images

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
 and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
 and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Isaiah 55:8 KJV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
 nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways
 and my thoughts than your thoughts.

SECOND READING 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 read by Ron Beagrie

Warnings from Israel’s History

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 

Corinthians 10:13

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So, if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL LUKE 13: 1-9 read by Reverend Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 13 beginning at verse 1:

Repent or Perish

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way, that they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or 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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Barren Fig Tree Image & Photo (Free Trial) | Bigstock

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. 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 none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

OAP hit with £22k Scottish Power bill 'back to square one' after thinking  he won - Daily Record

Every other month or so, we receive a utility bill in our email or post. Something we do not particularly look forward to receiving at the best of times and even less so this coming year with the huge price hikes in the cost of fuel.  Often on the bill, it warns you about missing a payment for that could result in disconnection. In other words- this is your last chance to pay up or face the consequences of disconnection!  No kidding!  It’s important to pay attention when you are on your last chance! I am sure we have all heard at one time or another, the words ‘this is your last chance’. I remember at school my primary 7 teacher telling me it was my last chance to put in some effort, or I would be sent to the head teacher.

Knitting on Double Pointed Needles – tin can knits

My crime was not making any effort at all at knitting. I hated knitting and to make matters worse- it was socks we were knitting. Grey woollen socks- I ask you-not only did I hate the colour but if they were ever finished I had absolutely no intention of ever wearing them! I found knitting with two needles challenging enough – never mind the four needles I had to work with. I did end up visiting the head teacher who fortunately for me was far more understanding of my knitting ineptitude than my own class teacher was. The head-teacher told me that I had to find someone at home to help me- she showed understanding and I guess leniency and mercy. She gave me another chance to prove myself and I did. I finished knitting those wretched socks!

Today Jesus told a parable about Last Chances and there is also a tone of leniency and mercy contained in it.

Before looking at the parable about leniency and mercy, we first of all see Jesus caught up in a tricky conversation. This conversation is about an incident in Jerusalem. It seems that some Galileans were visiting Jerusalem and offering sacrifices in the temple. These sacrifices involved the killing of animals. Pilate sent in troops and murdered Galileans, mingling their blood with the blood of sacrificed animals. If the sacrificed animals were part of the ritual for the atonement of sins, the Galileans were murdered as they were repenting. This makes the crowd think that perhaps the magnitude of their sins had something to do with their tragic fate.

Jesus the reader of hearts realises what the people are thinking- the people are wondering if those Galileans were the worst of sinners because of the death they met? God would not accept their sacrifice, but through the agency of Pilate sacrificed them instead. Is this how it works? Great sin is followed by dreadful punishment. It is common for people to think along these lines. It seems hard-wired into the human mind. If we do good, we expect reward and when we do evil, we expect punishment. So, if people are severely punished then their sin or crime must be great! Sin and suffering were linked together in the human psyche. Is that a valid way of thinking today? Is there any substance to this way of thinking that being good brings reward and doing evil leads to punishment? Therefore, if people are going through a particularly hard time of suffering, can it be deduced that they had committed some dreadful crime or other?

Tower in Siloam: Problem of Suffering explained for children - YouTube

Jesus does not agree with that way of thinking at all. He gives this thinking brief consideration, before he shows how misleading it is. What about physical evil –he says, what about the accidental events that tragically affect people’s lives. You have heard how, without warning, a tower fell in Jerusalem and killed eighteen people. Was the hand of God in this, the hand of a God who sees sinners and punishes them?

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? | 412teens.org

Jesus vehemently denies this. No God’s hand was not in this. Jesus gives an adamant No to this theological way of thinking. Good does not result always in reward and evil does not necessarily lead to punishment. Jesus to our surprise does not engage in theological debates. He makes no insistence on a divine love that seeks repentance rather than forgiveness. He makes no laborious explanation of God’s permissive will that allows evil to happen. He does not appeal to a higher wisdom or to a hidden plan that humans cannot appreciate. There is just a strong denial that people were not killed because they were sinners. The killing of these innocent people is not all related to any crime they have committed. Bad things happen to good people. Jesus is almost issuing a command here ‘stop that way of thinking, right now.’

Devotional: WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? - Holy Culture

We are forced to conclude that there are some things in this world that just happen as a consequence of the physical laws which govern this universe. And sometimes they happen to the best of people. Church buses loaded with Christian young people get swept into rain swollen rivers. Christian old folks die with cancer. Entire Christian families have been wiped out by drunk drivers behind the wheel of high-powered cars. Some things just happen. Look at Ukraine! Do the people there deserve what is happening there? Absolutely not! Is their sin greater than any other nation- categorically No! Some things happen because of the human hunger for power and control. Is that not the case with Putin? He wants to have complete control over Ukraine. Other things happen because people are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are some things in life that we simply cannot control.

Jesus did not want his interrogators to get bogged down with this question about why bad things happen. He wanted them to understand their responsibility for making good things happen. He tried to get them to see that we are not to concern ourselves with those things in life which we cannot control. Rather we need to concern ourselves with those things which we can control. Some people sit around and speak sadly about what life has done to them. Jesus says to them and to us that on the day of Judgement we will not be asked what life has done to us but what we have done with life!

Keep Your Focus on God – Wind Beneath Our Wings

Here Jesus turns the tables around. They are asking about the fate of others, and suddenly they are faced with their own fate. And this fate is not dependent on the caprice of Pilate or anyone else. Their fate is in their own hands. They are urged to turn away from focussing on lives that they cannot control or influence and instead focus on their own lives. What have they done with their own lives? Is there enough evidence and fruit in our lives to demonstrate that we are Christians or are we more like this fig tree- giving great opportunity, possessing great potential and yet bearing no fruit? This fig tree was planted in the best of soils- yet years later no fruit. Normally it takes three years for fruit to show. This fig tree is barren. Is there some similarity between the tree and ourselves? Are we barren or are we producing good fruit?

In les Miserable Jean Valjean’s life is barren. He escapes from prison and ends up in the bishop’s home where he is offered hospitality. However, on leaving he steals the chalices and is caught by the police. The bishop shows great mercy and forgiveness and says he gave them to him and spares him further punishment. The bishop shows leniency and mercy to a man whose life is barren. Jean Valjean is given a second chance.

Catch Me If You Can - Trailer - YouTube

Similarly in the film ‘Catch me if you can’ Leonardo Di Caprio acts the part of the true story of Frank Abagnale. Frank’s life is barren of good works – he got involved at the age of 15-21 after the family break up in all sorts of criminal activity by being an imposter – his criminal activity eventually caught up with him and he was 12 years in prison. After 12 years in prison, he was given a second chance- he was to work for the government and he was to act as a consultant advising people how to protect themselves from the likes of people like him. He is 67 today, still in the same work and he gives thanks to God for his second chance. Frank knew about mercy and leniency and so did a little boy charged, with great responsibility by Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison is famous for his electric light bulb invention. Electric lights are so common today that we never even give them a thought. If we were changing a light bulb and dropped one and broke it, we wouldn’t worry about it. We would just go and get another one. That hasn’t always been true.

When Thomas Edison was struggling to perfect the light bulb, it took his team of workers twenty-four hours to put together just one light bulb. When the team was finished with one light bulb, Edison gave it to a young boy to carry upstairs. Step by step the boy carefully climbed the stairs, afraid that he might drop this priceless piece of work.

Thomas Edison's Light Bulb - YouTube

You can probably guess what happened; the poor boy dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the team twenty-four hours to produce another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have the bulb carried upstairs. He gave it to the same young boy who had dropped the first one. Mr. Edison gave the boy a second chance! Would we have done that? He showed leniency, mercy and forgiveness.

All these people had some barrenness or failure in their lives and so in Lent we reflect and look within to see the areas of barrenness or sin in our own lives. As we see the barrenness in our own lives, we bring that to God, who keeps no record of wrongs and offers us forgiveness and mercy. We may not like what we see in ourselves but do not forget that God sees us with the eyes of a loving Father-a father who sees the best in us, who sees our potential, and who knows our weaknesses and accepts us just as we are. In Bridget Jones diary her boyfriend says to Bridget, I love you just the way you are. She had some disgusting habits but he loved her the way she was. God loves us just the way we are but he loves us too much to let us stay there – he wants us to grow in love and knowledge of himself.

Lent: Giving Up & Giving To | Articles | Jericho Ridge Community Church

Lent is the season for self- examination and as we look within, we ask God to cleanse our heart and renew a right spirit within us- to give us a second chance to bear fruit in our lives. What fruit would you like to see in a year’s time- a love that is patient, a love that does not envy, a love that is not easily angered, a love that trusts and perseveres. For that fruit to grow you will need like the fig tree fertilizer- the fertilizer of prayer, the fertilizer of scripture, the fertilizer of worship and the fertilizer of practical service and in due time with due care and love we will produce a great harvest of fruit. Amen.

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God,

the Father, the almighty, maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living

and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,

the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.

with the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen

Praying Moms – LRPC HOME

PRAYERS

Living God,

we praise for all that is good

and precious in human life,

the value,

the potential,

and uniqueness of every individual.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

Compassionate God,

we pray for all whose humanity is abused and exploited

remembering especially victims of violence, torture and rape.

We ask for help for all who suffer from addiction

that they might find the support and courage to break free.

We turn our thoughts to those

who live under corrupt and oppressive regimes,

and ask that they might know freedom and justice.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

Dignity and Respect | David's Refuge

God of love,

we pray for those, whose humanity is diminished by prejudice and discrimination,

and are subjected to insults, intimidation, hatred and suspicion.

We ask that as we are all made in your image,

and are precious in your sight,

that all are treated with due dignity and respect.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

God of all wisdom,

we pray for those denied the chance to fulfil their potential,

whether through lack of education,

insufficient resources,

limited opportunities,

or a denial of their human rights.

Open doors and create new horizons for them.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

Amazon's assistance in Ukraine

God of peace, we pray today

for those whose lives are blighted by war and hostilities.

We think especially of the people of Ukraine

and pray fervently for an end to war.

Bring comfort to all who mourn.

Watch over the orphans,

and help them find new homes.

Bless the Ukrainian president

and give him courage in these days.

Help us to support the people of Ukraine

in whatever ways we can,

remembering that little in your hands

is multiplied and becomes much.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

God of all healing,

we give thanks for answered prayer

and for those who have received your healing touch.

We pray for those who are battling against sickness and disease,

unable to live life to the full

and fearful of what the future may hold.

Draw near and give them the healing

and strength they need.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

During Times of Sorrow, Reflect on God's Comfort - Bible Gateway Blog

God of new life, we pray for those

who mourn the death of a loved one,

and suddenly find life stripped of meaning and joy.

Comfort and uphold them in these days

and may they know your peace.

Lord in your mercy

Reach out in love.

Daffodil Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

God of hope, thank you for the new life

we see in this spring season,

and for the daffodils

that reminds of the power of the resurrection,

of new life and hope.

In these days help us to trust you

and to let your hand guide us.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Do not bring us to the time of trial

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

May Christ, give you grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow him; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.