These readings have an advent feel to them, that “The kingdom is here and not yet” quality.
That favourite reading from Isaiah. It sounds like Santa with such a bounty, even beginning with “Ho!” I’ve been using Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer for my devotions this Lenten season. This morning the community remembered the Hebron Massacre of 1994, “It is a reminder that extremists of all faiths have distorted the best that our faiths have to offer, and it is our prayer that a new generation of extremists for love and grace will rise up.” What a great phrase for this reading, a generation of extremists for love and grace. This reading is a foretaste, but also a goal for many of our churches. It is an image we see in church halls all across the country as people come to have their fill of good food and love.
Then the movement from a feast to almost famine in the psalm. We move from all being filled to a driving hunger. This hunger is not for food, but for God.
Paul also writes to an anxiously waiting community. While we wait for God’s kingdom to be in it’s fullness, we must not act as if it is already here, celebrating and partying. We have work to do.
Then this gospel which always makes me think Jesus is feeling overwhelmed. Between last week and this week he gets testy with the Pharisees, weepy for Jerusalem, and then an almost dangerous warning tone to his followers. I wonder how you interpret the fig tree. It always puzzles me and I have heard many explanations that could work but don’t seem to quite be it. For this year I am in that “here and not yet” moment. Our fig tree is dying, and it continues to receive one more year of…what? Faith? The Holy Spirit? Keeping our doors open?
Finally, I recall the words of Archbishop Colin Johnson when he spoke regarding Occupy Toronto, that we all know things are not as they should be. There is something wrong with the world we live in. If that is all Occupy said, perhaps it is enough. And perhaps it is enough for us to be in the moment of dying and receiving nutrients, knowing of the bounty that is waiting for us.