Repent or Perish
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “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 all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘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?’ He replied, ‘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.’ ”
Repentance is not a once for all effort - if takes a life time.
To truly realign how we think about God, about Gods world, about the children of God, is not painless and is not easy but involves a drastic re-orientation of ourselves in relation to God.
It affects the way we approach all of life - and death.
Repentance also brings the ability, in the face of disaster, to know confidence in God as the source and the sustainer of all life.
To accept the randomness and cruelty that life sometimes brings.
But to know the presence of God - in ALL of life.
Even in the face of disaster we are upheld by the calm assurance that God is present - not averting disaster, not protecting Gods own, but bringing hope into the most desperate situations.
Bringing hope that, though we live in such turmoil, though disaster might strike at any moment, our hope is in God - the God who ensures that there is more - the God who calls us to be instruments of the hope that persists even in the bleakness of today's world and today's news.
Repentance involves not just a change of heart and of mind but also a change in how we live and how we act with that changed perspective.
Repentance brings a call to join in Gods mission to bring justice and peace to all the world.
To change the bad news by living the good news.
So, as we reflect on all the bad news that we have heard this week, on all the images we have seen on TV, on all that we have read in newspapers, our question is not: Why, God, Why? But, How, God, How?
How can we bring change?
How can we relieve suffering?
How can we work for justice in our time?
Our repentance arises, not out of fear or guilt but out of the awareness of God at work, even in the midst of suffering.
And the difference that repentance brings is the ability to see how God might use us to change the story - from bad news to good news.
That story that Jesus tells, after speaking of repentance, the story of the fig tree that won't bear fruit, that the owner wants to cut down.
The fig tree that is saved because the gardener pleads for it, promising to pay it special attention.
That story speaks to me of second chances.
Second chances that come, not by simply letting fate takes its course, but by intervention.
If the fig tree is to survive the next visit of the owner, it is going to take a lot of hard work on the part of the gardener to ensure that it does bear fruit.
It will take time and investment to make sure the fig tree is turned around.
God calls us to hard work.
To the hard work of second chances.
To the hard work of intervention, changing what we can- to make a difference for others.
To give others their second chance.
God calls us to a ministry of second chances.
To a ministry that bears fruit.
When we have turned around, we can be the means by which the Good News gets the better of all the bad news.
Repentance and second chances.
Gods good news for us today.
Go - and live out the gospel.
Thanks be to God.