Tag Archives: Nurtured by God

Bounded by Love

Kingdom Building

August 13, 2019

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7

And now I will tell you
   what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
   and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
   and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a waste;
   it shall not be pruned or hoed,
   and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
   that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
   is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
   are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
   but saw bloodshed;
righteousness,
   but heard a cry! –Isaiah 5:5-7

As I read this, I remember a sermon I heard many years ago when I was in grade school that obviously left an impression. I do not remember the preacher and thus it must have been one of the interims from Phillips Theological Seminary then located in Enid, Oklahoma. Between student preachers, professors would fill our pulpit at times until a new person was selected. In my naivete I did not know I was being blessed by some outstanding theologians in my tiny rural church like Craddock and Carstensen.

The preacher had us image God as being like a fence in the front yard of a home enclosing a beautiful lush lawn and trees where a small child was playing enjoying the wonders of God’s good earth without restraint as cars and trucks sped by the busy street next to the yard. Then he said image allowing the child to play in the yard with no fence with nothing to stop her from running into the street after a wayward ball and no one there to keep out the weeds and maintain the grass. I wonder if the preacher’s scripture for the day was the one quoted above.

We bristle at being restrained by even Jesus’ simple rules of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Willfulness stretches us to search beyond God’s common sense and self-righteousness asserts we do not need anyone or anything, we’ve got this.

I think most of us would say after watching the evening news that as a society we cannot say we’ve got this. We are missing the mark as individuals and as society. I think a little soul searching would benefit us all and call us to implore God to help us repair our fences.

Prayer:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise*. Amen

*First verse of Dear Lord and father of mankind, written by John Greenleaf Whitter, see at https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Dear_Lord_and_Father_of_Mankind/

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

On Being Like a Green Olive Tree

olives_close_upLiving in the Spirit
July 13, 2016

Scripture Reading: Psalm 52

But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
for ever and ever.
I will thank you for ever,
because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
I will proclaim your name, for it is good. –Psalm 52:8-9

The olive tree, Olea europaea, is very hardy: drought-, disease- and fire-resistant, it can live to a great age. Its root system is robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. The older the olive tree, the broader and more gnarled the trunk becomes. Many olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean are said to be hundreds of years old, while an age of 2,000 years is claimed for a number of individual trees; in some cases, this has been scientifically verified.*

Followers of God are called to be like green olive trees. Resilient in all kinds of weather, even if they seem to die from the cold, they regenerate. I find it interesting that they do better in less than perfect soil. Apparently, green olive trees do not know how to deal with nutrient-rich soil. I am not exactly sure what that means in light of the parable of the sower. It may be saying that necessary spiritual nurturing accompanies our call to be conduits of the kingdom of God even when addressing the worst of conditions. It could mean that once we create rich soil, we are not just to rest in it and quit producing quality fruit where it is needed. We should never waste good.

I grew up on a farm, and remember one year in particular after receiving a lot of rain, we had gorgeous tomato plants. While they grew tall with beautiful leaves, only a few flowered. Thus we had very few tomatoes.

Never finished, our work must continue to bear fruit until righteousness is a reality for all of God’s children.

Prayer: Lord, continue to nurture us wherever you plant us. Amen.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive#Ancient_Israel_and_Hebrew_Bible

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.