Can you see the grace? Reflections 3-20-19

Texts for Sunday March 24, 2019
Third Sunday in Lent

Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

While this Sunday's do not include a reading from Ecclesiastes, a couple of lines from it popped into my mind as I read the first lines of the Gospel for this week. 
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has already been,
    in the ages before us. 
(Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)

The crowd around Jesus were discussing the misfortunes that had recently befallen some other folks. The first incident involved Galileans who were apparently killed during worship by the Roman governor. The second seems to have been an unfortunate architectural disaster in Jerusalem. The crowd was presuming - or maybe hoping? - that the extraordinary tragedies were the results of extraordinary sins committed by the victims. The crowd was expecting – maybe hoping? – that Jesus would confirm their belief that bad things happen to bad people.

Ecclesiastes came to my mind because, well, there is nothing new under the sun; what has been is what will be. Up to this very day we humans blame victims for their misfortune. If we do that, we are in control. If the good are rewarded and the bad are punished, then we can keep bad things from happening to us. Whether it is political oppression, societal prejudice, or natural disaster, "they" somehow deserved what they got.

Jesus didn’t confirm that for the crowd. Jesus knows that we are first and foremost worried about ourselves. He essentially said, so you think that you are better than these people? And he also knows that because of fear, we really want him to look over there at those people and not too closely at us. 

Because Jesus knows us so well, he pulls out the big “R” word – repentance. Do you really want to say they got what they deserved? Exam your thought patterns. Look into your heart. What about you? Turn away from those destructive ideas; turn around and look toward God. 

At this point, I’m going to digress a moment from the Gospel to say that the fabulous text from Isaiah this week also asks us to examine our lives for a moment. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, or your labor for that what does not satisfy? And when we turn around, what do we see? A feast for all people!  Of good and rich food without price…a free feast!

Back to Luke... Jesus goes on to tell a story about a problematic fig tree and its proposed fate. I really try not to immediately assign meaning in one of Jesus parables, like not deciding on who is God, who is me, etc. I try to just sit with the story for a while.

But always, I keep my eyes open for grace. Can you see it?

Can you see the grace for those who wish to be rid of a “useless thing”? 

Can you see the grace for those who believe in one more chance?

Can you see the grace for the useless thing?

Can you see grace in manure? (think about the first part of this text, too)

Can you see grace in the desire for yet another chance to turn and live?

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245