Meditation written by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Kevin Neiley.
I’ve read that primitive peoples believed if you ate a particular animal, you would acquire its attributes, like bravery, strength, or beauty. Today is a Communion Sunday. We Baptists don’t believe the bread we eat and grape juice we drink when we celebrate communion are the literal body and blood of Jesus as our Catholic friends do. Yet it is possible to connect our participation in this ritual with our desire to be more like Jesus. He was a healer, a teacher of wisdom, a feeder of the hungry in body and spirit, a forgiver even of those who took his life, a giver of second chances.
Our Gospel lectionary text for today is the story of the fig tree that did not produce fruit. (Luke 13:1-9) After three years with no figs, the owner wants to cut it down. Instead the gardener asks for permission to give it one more chance just in case some tender loving care will make a difference in the productivity of the tree. In the middle of a harsh admonition about repentance, Jesus interrupts himself to tell this story about a second chance. This perspective is consistent with Matthew’s Gospel, where he directs his disciples to forgive others “seventy times seven.” (18:22)
So while Jesus frequently offers a harsh critique of the behavior he sees even among people who profess to be God-followers, his call to repentance is always offered in the context of generous opportunities for change. Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s famous prayer includes the line, “And I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you.” In other words, Merton believed that sincere efforts to be loving, healing, forgiving people—even when we fail—do please God.
On this third Sunday in Lent, consider to whom you might need to offer a second chance. To a family member or friend? To yourself? To those with whom you radically disagree? In today’s health-conscious society, we know how much truth there is in the old adage, “You are what you eat.” Whatever your theology of communion, it is true that we generally become what nourishes us. May what we eat on this Communion Sunday bring us closer to becoming the people we were created to be.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.