Let’s stop all this stupid talk

I have a confession to make.  My eldest child, FBC, loves Spongebob Squarepants.  She gets it honest, her mother and I were known to watch it well into our twenties.  To say it is a show that she shouldn’t be watching is probably an understatement, but she’s a PK and we don’t want her to be a victim of her circumstances, so we fudge some.  There are rules to watching Spongebob however.  We tend to be selective about which episodes get chosen from the DVR library, and that standing rule in our house is if you say the word stupid, you can’t watch Spongebob.  FBC knows the rule so well that she’ll correct anyone and everyone she hears saying the forbidden word.  “Uh Oh, so-and-so can’t watch Spongebob,” has been heard on multiple occasions.

After three days of trying to figure out just who is stupid in the ongoing brew-ha-ha between Jesus and the Chief Priests in Matthew 21, three days of not being allowed to watch Spongebob (thankfully), it is probably time to move on to something just a bit deeper; something more theologically astute; something like fruit.

The 21st chapter of Matthew is ripe with fruit imagery (pardon the pun).  We have the famous story of Jesus cursing the fig tree.  There’s the Parable of the Two Sons called to go to work in the vineyard.  This Sunday, we hear and the Parable of the Wicked Tenants and Jesus’ declaration that the Kingdom belongs to those who “a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.”  According to the folks at Sermon Brainwave, Matthew is fond of the fruit metaphor.  He’s not arguing works righteousness, but that the sign and symbol of life in the Kingdom is a life that bears fruit. Those who claim to be disciples of Jesus show their devotion by feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, loosing the bonds of oppression, clothing the naked, and caring for the marginalized (Mt 25.31ff).

The world today is ripe (there I go again) with opportunities to bear the fruit of the kingdom.  How will you be fruitful today?

Wasting Soil

Sometimes, life in the Pankey household is nothing more than a series of quotes from Chris Farley and David Spade movies from the mid-90s.  One of our favorite phrases comes from Tommy Boy.

 You no selling waste of space!  I swear to God you’re worthless.
See 51 seconds into this clip

We mean it with love an affection, of course, but I chuckled to myself this morning as I read this Sunday’s Gospel lesson, imagining Jesus doing his best David Spade impression during the parable of the fig tree.

It got me thinking about two sides of the same coin: the ways in which I squander the gifts God has entrusted to my care and God’s amazing patience.  There are myriad reasons and excuses why I don’t live fully into God’s dream for me: fear, laziness, envy, pride, ennui, and perceived scarcity; just to name a few, but thanks be to God, he hasn’t yet cut me off at the knees and thrown me into the burn pile.

Not that I don’t deserve it.  Not that you don’t deserve it either.  We all do our fair share of blame shifting and ignoring.  We all, from time to time, turn and run like Jonah did.  We all, from time to time, misinterpret the call like Saul did.  We all, from time to time, hold back like Ananias and Saphirra did.  We all, from time to time, ignore God’s work, like Peter did.  As Paul wrote to the Romans, “all fall short of the glory of God.”  The good news, both in scripture and in Tommy Boy, is that patience and persistence pays off.  For us, the best news is that it isn’t about our patience or persistence, but rather God’s.

God waits on us.  He works the soil.  He tends the crops.  He allows us time to mature and grow.  He knows that we are not worthless.