Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Choosing to Thrive
"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." Luke 13:8-9
Today is election day across our nation. The new reporters are predicting record turn outs everywhere and many young people are going to vote for the first time. People are energetic and excited for the first time in a long time. Several years ago, and for a great while, there was a good deal of apathy everywhere and it was hard to get people out to vote. But folks are excited and want to have a voice in our future. They want to be part of a nation that bears fruit, that makes a difference, and a nation which cares for its people. There is lots of talk about a positive, compassionate future, but only participation and care will make those things happen.
Jesus is challenged to condemn the actions of some people, to chose who is the worst or best, to vote for the best martyrs and sinners. But when confronted to judge others, he offers the story of the fig tree. The fig tree has been producing nothing, offering no fruit, and providing little shade for years. The owner of the land thinks it a waste of earth and sky. But the gardener offers to care tenderly for the tree, feeding it, pruning it, giving it light and water so it can thrive. He offers compassionate care when judgment is desired. He is asked for quick decisions when faithfully listening, nurturing and relationship are the order of the day.
We have been suffering through tough economic times. We have been at war, and we have been torn apart in the church. Some people think that today's decision will fix all of the problems we have faced - as long as their candidate wins. In the story of the fig tree and the gardener, the only way we will thrive - in the church and in this land - is if we are willing to love compassionately, have direct involvement with the withered places and dig our hands into the manure. We will have to take the time to nurture and renew the broken places and broken relationships. No one candidate can fix the mess we have made.
So on this election, I want to be about connecting and committing to the work it takes for the church, the country and individuals to thrive. Whatever is decided today, there will be much work to do. It is tempting to withdraw after such a long campaign, so easy to condemn or let others do the work, but I want to get in and do what it takes. The gardener took on his worst failure. He took it on with love and compassion and hard work. I pray that we can take on our communities and our world with the same compassion. A compassion that sees the possibilities and beauty in every living being.