Family, falafel and fruitfulness

Proper 6 (June 14, 2009)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Ezek. 17:22-24, Ps. 92:1-4, 12-15; II Cor. 5:6-17; Mark 4:26-34

We traveled to Palestine this week with our children, who are visiting from Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania. It has been delightful to be together as a family and to share “our world” with our children — Jessica, Holden and Jeremy.

Holden, Cindy and Jeremy inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

In Palestine, we stayed in Bethlehem, where we visited the Church of the Nativity, the Shepherds’ Fields and olive wood artisans. We enjoyed engaging shop owners who talked about the difficult economic circumstances of living behind the separation wall that cuts off Bethlehem from Jerusalem. Some of the olive wood artisans are now producing crèches with a wall around Bethlehem, which blocks the wise men from visiting the baby Jesus.

Jessica braves a camel ride on the Mt. of Olives

We also spent a day in Jerusalem, visiting the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall. Jessica was the only one brave enough to ride a camel! We tasted falafel at a variety of stands in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. It was difficult to decide which was best!

Holden and Jeremy at the Western Wall

This week’s Common Lectionary readings are about leading fruitful and productive lives.

In the Old Testament reading, God promises to take a sprig from the top of a tall cedar and plant it on a lofty mountain where it will produce boughs, bear fruit and provide shelter for every kind of winged creature (Ezek. 17:22-23). All this will bear witness to the fact that the Lord is God (v.24).

Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

The psalmist says that the righteous will flourish like palm trees and grow like cedars (Ps. 92:12). Even in old age, they will always be green, full of sap and produce fruit (v.14) – demonstrating that God is upright (v.15).

In the Epistle reading, Paul writes that, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (II Cor. 5:17).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells parables about seeds that grow mysteriously, bearing fruit and providing shelter for the birds of the air (Mark 4:26-34). Even the smallest of seeds can produce useful plants (v.32).

These readings offer hopeful reminders that our lives bear fruit – they have meaning and purpose — as we stay connected to what God is doing in the world.

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