Here is the message.for Sunday, Feb 28,2016
Enjoy the spring day and have a good week! Pastor Pete

Bible readings - Isaiah 55:1-9, Luke 13:1-9

A few weeks ago, on the Grammy awards, popular singer, Adele, did a terrible job performing one of her songs - she cried all the next day.

But her next concert will be sold out and she’ll give a great performance.

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey was fired from the TV station in Baltimore whose Director said she was “unfit for television”.

But, after that, another daytime show ended up giving her a job which then helped launch her career to stardom and success.

Did you know that New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichik, in his first head coach job had one winning season out of five and was fired by the pathetic Cleveland Browns?

Since then, he has led his team to 6 Super Bowls; 4 championships (Cleveland has 0).

Do you recall when Lee Iacoca revitalized the Chrysler Corporation some 30 years ago?

Well,…he had previously been fired for doing a poor job at Ford Motor Corporation.


All the examples that I just listed have something in common.

These people all fell short of what was expected of them, and yet someone was gracious enough to give them a second chance.

And it wasn’t that they were treated unfairly or fired unjustly,….they all DID mess up at what they were doing.

It’s just that they were fortunate enough to get another chance.


We all love to have second chances in life, don’t we?

And we all figure that we deserve and ought to have, second chances.

Come on!……Woncha give me another chance?’, we say.

But whoever said we are entitled to second chances?

Those people were lucky to have another shot after fouling up.


And yet, in many instances, we consider giving a second chance to someone who has messed up,… a foolish thing to do.

What’s that old saying?   ‘Fool me once, shame on you.   'Fool me twice, shame on me’.

If I give you a second chance and you screw it up, I feel like a dope for even considering the idea of giving you another shot.


And not all second chances yield terrific results like Oprah Winfrey or Bill Belichik.

When a Parole Board lets a convicted criminal out of prison early as part of giving them a second chance,…

and that criminal goes out and commits a crime, the Board members not only feel foolish, but maybe even a little culpable.

No,…second chances are not the norm, nor are they to be expected.

They really often feel like a sort of gift from heaven.


Today, we heard Jesus tell a parable about getting a second chance.

He tells a story of a vineyard that had a woefully inadequate fig tree.

The Master of the vineyard told the gardener in charge that, since the tree had failed so miserably in producing fruit,….to cut it down.

‘Destroy this worthless tree’, he said, ‘for it’s a waste of our good soil’.

But the gardener pleaded for the Master to give the tree another chance to produce fruit, after he puts some “manure” around it.


So,... being that this is a parable, we know that Jesus is really not talking about horticulture here.

The story and characters are representations.

The Master represents God the Father.

He is the one in charge of all things; the garden of this world and all the trees within it.


The fig tree represents people that God has planted in the garden of the world;…. that is, you and me and everyone else.

The problem is that people don’t produce the good things (good fruit) that God intended.

God not only intended for us to produce good things,….but He hopes for, and even expects, us to produce such good fruits.

But so often we instead do selfish things that cause us to produce either bad fruit (sins) or no fruit at all.

So then, we are the tree that is a disappointment to the Master.


Enter the gardener;… who intervenes on behalf of the tree (that’s us)

And, of course, the gardener represents Jesus, who cares for all of us and does all that he can to put us in good standing with the Master


So I wonder - What’s the “manure” represent in the story?

We all know what ‘manure’ is and if you’ve ever worked a garden or done planting, you know that manure works wonders.

Manure can rejuvenate and restore plants that are dormant, that is, which have done or produced nothing.

And manure not only helps things grow, but it helps plants produce more abundantly than they otherwise would on their own.

So, in the parable, the manure is….the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

That is to say that the manure represents the love of Christ.

The manure is the forgiveness that Jesus brings to us.

You could say the forgiveness and love we’re given by Jesus is the manure that gives ‘the gardener’ hope that we’ll produce good results.

Without that manure of love poured around us by Jesus,….the odds of a second chance bringing any different result is very limited.


The manure is the grace that forgives our failures and our neglect to do the right thing,

reminds us we are still loved, in spite of how we’ve bombed,…

works on us, as only love can to get us to produce more good.

The Holy Spirit works that manure of pardon and love into the fiber of our roots to help us produce more good than we would on our own. 

Its that manure of love and forgiveness that let’s the gardener gain for us,… a second chance when we’ve messed up.

And we know that what Jesus gains for us,….is not just a second chance,…but a third,… and fourth,….and fifth, etc.

In Isaiah we heard “let them return to the Lord…our God, for he will abundantly pardon”.


I don’t know about you,…but I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty decent person who never did anything really terribly wrong.

But, truth be told…..I have done plenty of things where I messed up and for which I’ve been ashamed of before God.

And there have also been countless times when I could have done much more good than I did.

Yet that manure of love and forgiveness that Christ has spread upon me has caused me to produce better fruit in my second chances.

That’s not to say I am perfect or even a good example to follow.
But I know that God’s love,….has been ‘manure for my soul’

and made a great deal difference.

And I think the same might be true for all of you.

Because we all screw up and fall short of what we could do to make the world a better place, and thus, need second chances from God.


A second chance when we fail at marriage and relationships,…..

when we fail at parenthood,…

when we fail in school and at jobs,….

when we fail at being a tree of goodness that God has planted.


So it’s Jesus’ love and forgiveness,…….that feeds our soul.

It helps us produce more fruit than what we otherwise have, or could.

Its part of the promise of second chances that He gains for us. 

And its only through Jesus Christ and the Cross and crucifixion…that God has seen fit to give us many second chances.

 

So let us also be Christ-like gardeners,…that when we spread that manure of love and forgiveness around the world to others,…the world will become a place.

And that’s no BS.

Amen