Thursday, August 5, 2010
Fig Trees and Faith
Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:46-51
I was a cookout recently, at the home of friends. I have just been at their house once, and it was in the middle of winter so I had never really taken in their back yard. The house is nearly 100 years old and this young couple has spend endless hours painting and repairing. The back yard had needed a lot of work at they have thrown themselves into it. While we were all talking and eating, I noticed a lovely fig tree, near where we were seated, and it caught my eye. The branches were swollen with figs, and although a young tree, had already begun to spread it's strong limbs. The scent of figs on the night air took me back to childhood, when I would sit for hours in the branches of our now long gone fig tree, listen to the wind and take in the aromas of summer. The leaves are wide and shady and a child can fall asleep in the low wide branches. An adult can find rest in that shade too. Fig trees seem to be an invitation to savor the summer, savor the time and savor the life we have been given. And it was at a fig tree where Jesus spied Nathanael.
Jesus had his eyes and heart open to the invitation of God. He sought out companions for his journey, and was playful and challenging in the process. Imagine enticing fishermen from their nets and coaxing stubborn young men to follow an unsure path following God. And yet, there was the possibility of new life and adventure, and we all rise to the occasion when we are invited to something special or in a special way. Their faith was activated by finding out that there was more than the world they knew. There were exotic and unique possibilities they could never imagine before them, and also some incredible challenges that would wear them down. But God found a way to touch them, to reach them, and God finds a way to reach us, right where we are. Under a fig tree or laboring in our gardens of joy and anguish.
Today, as we travel to Albuquerque for the consecration, I want to keep my heart open for the invitation of God. I want to be able to hear anew the invitation and see anew God's working in the world. May we all remember today that God is reaching out to us all, no matter where we are, and we will be found by God today.