|Theme:||God's love and forgiveness. The parable of the fig tree. Lent 3 C|
|Object:||A light bulb|
|Scripture:||" 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' " Luke 13:8-9 (NIV)|
Electric lights are so common today that we never even give them a thought. If we were changing a light bulb and dropped one and broke it, we wouldn't worry about it. We would just go and get another one. That hasn't always been true.
When Thomas Edison was struggling to perfect the light bulb, it took his team of workers twenty-four hours to put together just one light bulb. When the team was finished with one light bulb, Edison gave it to a young boy to carry upstairs. Step by step the boy carefully climbed the stairs, afraid that he might drop this priceless piece of work. You can probably guess what happened; the poor boy dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the team twenty-four hours to produce another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have the bulb carried upstairs. He gave it to the same young boy who had dropped the first one. Mr. Edison gave the boy a second chance! That's true forgiveness, isn't it? 
In our Bible lesson today, Jesus teaches us about God's forgiveness. Jesus tells a story about a man who had a fig tree in his vineyard. He went to the vineyard expecting to find some figs on his tree, but there were none. He said to the man who took care of the vineyard, "For three years I have been coming expecting to find figs on this tree and I haven't found any. Cut it down! It is just taking up space."
"Leave it alone for one more year," the keeper of the vineyard begged. "I will dig around it and put fertilizer on it. If it has fruit next year, fine. If not, then cut it down."
In this story, the owner of the vineyard is God, the keeper of the vineyard is Jesus, and the tree represents God's children. God has every reason to expect his children to produce good fruit. What kind of fruit? Things like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and kindness. Sometimes we don't produce that kind of fruit, but we have a loving and forgiving God. Just as the owner of the vineyard gave the fig tree a second chance, God gives us a second chance too and it is important for us to know that we don't have to do it alone. The keeper of the vineyard helped the tree by working the soil and adding fertilizer. When we allow Jesus to work in our lives, he will help us to produce the kind of fruit that God expects.
Aren't you glad that we have a loving and forgiving God who gives us a second chance?
Dear Father, we are thankful that even though we don't always produce the kind of fruit that you desire, you give us a second chance. Help us to allow Jesus to work in our lives so that we will produce the kind of fruit that you want from us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
 James Newton, Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh, 1989, p.22.
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