God’s little blue eyed boy

Lent 3c – Sunday 3rd March 2013
Luke 13: 1-9

Hey guys, you’ve not been watching out for me. All I ask is you pay me a bit of attention. Help stop me making a fool out of myself every now and again (I know that’s a bigger task than I realise, but hey, give it a go). For the past eight weeks I’ve labelled every one of my blogs in the wrong year! And you’ve not noticed! How do you know this wasn’t a test I was setting you? How do you know there wasn’t a big prize awaiting the first person to point it out? (There wasn’t, but I was just saying.)

Now please don’t go getting a complex about this little telling off I’ve given you. You’re no worse a blog reader than anyone else. You’re no worse a blogosphere citizen than anyone else who finds their way here. I’m willing to forgive, to give you another chance, let bygones be bygones. We’ll speak of it no more.

Do you think I’m getting ideas above my station? Am I taking this Christ-like thing too far? After all, that’s exactly what our reading says today. And for me, whenever I’m getting a little too big for my boots, this reading brings me back down to earth. Do you ever feel a little smug? A little too satisfied with how life is going? Do you ever cast a roving eye over that person sat next to you on the tram and think yourself just a little better than them? A bit more stylish. A bit more trendy. A bit more good. A bit more holy. A bit more authentic. A bit more, well, Christian.

Wait a minute that’s not right. That didn’t come out like I meant it to. Let me rephrase that paragraph. I don’t think of myself as a good person. But do you ever sit opposite someone on the bus and think they’re a worse person than you? They’d never give up their seat for anyone else. They never smile. They never acknowledge you. They look, frankly, shifty. Not 100 per cent trustworthy. The things they do are bound to be way worse than anything you’ve ever contemplated.

Then I read my Bible and it says:
Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.

I reread my words and I do indeed die. I’m no blue eyed boy. I’m no better than anyone else. We all stand accused, we are all found guilty. We are sinners. And sin is sin is sin. There’s no better kind of sin. There’s no grades or levels of sinfulness. There’s just sin. We need to turn to God (I love that phrase). We need to turn around. To shift ourselves. To take action. To do something. To recognise our failing. To turn to God.

And I’m glad that God’s a considerate gardener. Me? I’m a useless gardener. I pull up the things that need to stay and leave the things that should be in the compost heap. I’m glad God is prepared to give me another chance, to let me mature, to do what I should have done a long time ago.

But the sting is in the tale here:
“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilise, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”

We are not just ornaments in the kingdom of God. Our lives should bear fruit.

Lent is often seen as a very spiritual and personal journey we undertake. This passage reminds us that our lives should be blossoming. This week do something practical, something that overflows from the richness of your life. Go and visit someone who’s having it rough lately. Volunteer to listen to the children read in your local primary school. Litter pick your street. You can make a difference. God lives in you.

Me? I’m just going to proof read this blog one more time looking for typo’s!

Happy days

About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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