Normally, by this stage of the week, I have long since left the readings from last week behind in order to focus on the Lectionary for the following Sunday. But, somehow, the parable of the fig tree has accompanied me and even plagued me this week. I find myself drawn, again and again, to the image of the gardener who didn't simply "give it another year" but was prepared to set to digging around those roots and putting in manure, giving the tree every chance to produce the goods instead of just giving up on it.
I was involved in a discussion (aka moan) with a colleague about some of the minutiae of ministry in which we often become mired. The politics of keeping individuals and groups on side, even when it seems to distract us from the core business and take considerable energy and patience and gritting of teeth is, perhaps, the manure that has to be dug in to allow the tree to bear fruit. Hard work, but worth the effort. It does not make the task easier but does perhaps give it purpose. Maybe that is why the fig tree has stuck with me - that work is a necessary,ongoing part of ministry. As servants of the God of second and third and fourth chances we are called to be engaged in according others the same opportunities for growth as are extended to us.
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