Growing figs

I can’t say I ever would have thought of myself as a fig tree if it hadn’t been for Jesus. (Click here for the full audio of yesterday’s message). Here’s how the parable goes:

“There was a fig tree growing in a vineyard. The owner came out looking for fruit on it, but didn’t find any. The owner said to the vine dresser, ‘Look here! For three years not I’ve come out in search of fruit on this fig tree and have found none. Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground?’  In reply, the vine dresser said, ‘Please leave it one more year while I hoe around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine; if not, then let it be cut down.’”

So, my fellow fig trees, here’s the deal. God always gives us another chance to live with love and to grow into the beautiful tree we were created to be. I know we get distracted by many things in life, and many other things seem to take up a great deal of our time and energy so we don’t have time to love and grow as we could. But those are the two most important pieces.

Hoeing up the soil around the fig tree meant that the shoots that the tree sent out to grow baby fig trees were cut off, allowing for a stronger tree. And, everything needs nourishment (aka, fertilizer) to grow. So, let go of those things that need to be let go of, and nourish your life with things that feed your soul. All the best advice sounds simple, doesn’t it? I know it’s not so easy, but there you have it.

Peace, Kaye

Led by the Spirit

Occasionally the Spirit literally grabs hold while I’m writing my sermon and almost demands that I do something crazy with it. By demands, I mean that the thought just doesn’t let go of me and really demands that I act on it. It sounds kind of weird, I know, but there you have it.

Last week, my sermon writing on Jesus being led into the wilderness by the Spirit and tempted by Satan seriously wasn’t going too well. Then this crazy thought came into my head… if Jesus was led by the Spirit, certainly She must have an interesting perspective on the whole experience. So, theatrically speaking, she took over my body during the sermon on Sunday and gave the community a nice little lecture on Lessons in the Wilderness. If you’d like to hear the whole thing, simply click here.

My continuing (no, this is not new to me, I just need to be reminded) lesson in all of this is two-fold. One, it is okay to let the Spirit lead you to places that seem a bit crazy. Doing things like preaching in character – especially a character that has a British accent – make me exceedingly nervous. But the sermon never could have been what it was if I didn’t follow. Perhaps Jesus couldn’t have been who he was if he hadn’t followed the Spirit out into the wilderness. Go figure, it’s just possible that stepping out of our comfort zones, risking, surrendering to our intuition, the Spirit, our hearts (call it what you will) provides us with our most meaningful, growth-inducing experiences.

And my second lesson, which I will probably have to learn over and over again until the day I die, is that I don’t have to be perfect. Duh. Certainly those of you who know me were under no illusions about my perfection, or lack thereof. And, though I’m not supposed to admit this, my sermon Sunday was far from perfect! Still, people listened, laughed, and there was even a smattering of applause at the end. Perfection does not ensure learning or affection or spiritual growth. In fact, perfection may actually be a stumbling block to all of those. It seems that if I do my best and share from my heart, and if people come with an open heart and mind (this is a two-way street) that the Spirit is able to work miracles with that.

There are times when I have some very unkind commentary on where the Spirit deems it necessary to lead me, still I’ve always come out the other side blessed.

Happy Lent, Kaye

Fat Tuesday & Lent

It’s Fat Tuesday, that crazy celebrations of wantonness and gluttony before knuckling down and behaving for the next six weeks we call Lent. Someday I hope to make it to New Orleans for their infamous Mardi Gras celebration – just to say I experienced it once. But not this year. Instead I spent today working out Lenten sermons. Not that I don’t love what I do, but guess where I’d rather be?

Having said that, let me give you a heads up on the next few weeks. It seems to me that as long as we’re on this earth we have things to learn and ways to grow. I know that a lot of religious and spiritual concepts seem unreachable to us normal folks, but they are even more unreachable if we never try! Let’s consider our lives a classroom. We’re given the opportunity to learn different lessons. Sometimes we may really click with the material and pass with flying colors. Sometimes the subject may be a bit more challenging for us and we find ourselves with a C+. And then there may be times when we have to take a class over again, because we just don’t get it (or are too stubborn to try). But in this smart classroom called “life” we’ll be given the chance over and over again to learn the lessons we need to learn.

Lent, being a time of introspection, a time to seek God anew, and a time of spiritual growth, is the perfect time to focus on some spiritual material that we could all probably use a refresher course in. These are the Lessons of Lent that I’ll be discussing over the next four weeks:

  • Lessons from the Wilderness
  • Growing Figs
  • Just Dance…
  • Guilt is a Choice

Curious? Come join us Sundays at Meadowbrook Country Club at 10 a.m. here in Racine!

Blessings, Kaye

 

Calling & Purpose

Yesterday I preached on the call of Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-10) and talked about a few of the great female leaders in the last 150 years including Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem. We, too, have a calling that is no less important… it is to love and to share our unique gifts and abilities (no matter how small you may think they are) with the world to make it a better place. (Listen to the full audio of the sermon here.)

Coincidentally, there was a documentary on last night about Gloria Steinem. It was fascinating to hear her journey in her own words. From the outside, people like Gloria are heroes who seem almost invincible. From the inside, we find that they are just people like us. As a young journalist, Gloria had one of those aha moments while reporting on women’s right to control their own bodies. That moment changed the rest of her life and led her to strive for full equality for women. Still, it wasn’t easy. She said she had plenty of doubts, and when the press or public treated her especially brutally, she swore she was quitting. But she didn’t. Gloria held on to her vision and surrounded herself with other women she could lean on. Around the time she turned 50, she experienced a few years of “depression” where she found herself thoroughly exhausted in every way. In starting to write a book about self-esteem, the great Gloria Steinem found that she had very little herself. It took some serious introspection and self-reflection to determine why. In the end she came out of it stronger and more secure in herself and her vision.

I’m sharing this with you because it reinforced a few things for me. First, prophets in our day still have a hard time. They still deal with ridicule, anger and open hostility. Second, no one is invincible. Life gets tough sometimes and people crash sometimes… even those we think are braver and stronger than the rest of us. Looking within is an important part of our journeys. Third, don’t give up. Even when God calls us to love and we get bruised, betrayed and burned, we shouldn’t stop loving. Even when God calls us to share who we are and what we have and people ridicule us, or take advantage of us, or we fail in some way, we need to get up, brush ourselves off, and start over again. That’s life.

At the end of the day, it is worse never to have tried, never to have loved, never to have risked, never to have lived to the fullest extent possible. We are all called to be instruments of Love. Perhaps we can open ourselves to being that instrument today by asking, “God, where would you have me go, what would you have me do, what would you have me say?” Then remain open to the nudges, the opportunities, the intuition… if you watch for the answer, I believe you’ll find it.

Peace, Kaye