“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wasted Soil: The Sermon I Want to Preach


"Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit in a year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down." (Luke 13:9)

We are, each of us, responsible for the nurturing of our faith lives. We need to take action, in prayer, in relationship, in community, in some manner, to nurture our faith lives. Our lives are intended to be fruitful, spiritually fruitful, a witness to God's presence, a vessel for God's abiding love to pour out and fertilize a broken, barren world.

For some years now I have been living in a barren world.

Our Lenten program this year, held on Wed. nights, joins "small church" with our sister small church down the road. This year they have about 10 people coming, I have three, including me. THREE. And for that I make a meal, set the tables, prepare the room for our discussion, and clean up.

"We're too tired....we're too busy....we already have commitments on Wed. night...we're satisfied with our faith and our spiritual lives..." Actually, no one says anything. This is what I imagine they would say. But they say nothing and do nothing. They don't even complain. They could at least say, "I hate that idea for a Lenten program..."

"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?"

For years I have tried to grow the faith of this community. I have tried many things. I have built some grassroots support, a few who have been affected. I have worked hard. I like to be creative. I get excited with Christian Formation...mostly I think they are just complacent....You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink...

And so now, I am considering leaving "small church." They are too comfortable. They love me. They say I inspire them...but since I see no fruit, I wonder what I inspire in them...how are they inspired? To come to church on Sunday? To have a "nice" worship experience, a cup of coffee and some conversation and go home, unchanged?

"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 perish as they did."

Repent: to turn around. To change one's heart. To turn and return to God.

Unless you turn to God you will perish.

The soil will not nurture you if you only water the surface. The water must soak the roots so they grow deep and firm.

Sometimes though, even deep watering will not be enough. Adding manure will not be enough. Water and food cannot heal if the environment is not ready for food and water. Clay cannot sustain vital growth. Sand cannot sustain healthy plants. Sometimes all one can do is move on to a new spot and start again.