Hi everyone. Rob here.
One of the joys of a New Zealand summer is the wonderful fruit that comes into season. Cherries, nectarines, apricots, plums and peaches, and all their varieties, will come to us before Christmas. Pears and apples and grapes will follow and life will be good! They all have local variations as well. A Central Otago apricot is different to a Hawkes Bay one better IMO!) and so forth. This season of abundance depends on a number of factors to go well. Abundant sunshine is needed but a bit of rain helps too. Frosts are to be avoided. Hail also. There is also the human factor. Trees have to be pruned and fruit thinned for them to grow to the right size. They have to be picked at just the right time. Too green or too ripe are both problematic. Enough workers are also needed. No workers. No harvest. All of this just so you and I can enjoy a fruit salad on a hot summers day!
Often in life we forget how interdependent we are. We need each other and the creation to play their part. When that doesn’t happen, life can take a very tragic turn. The good thing is that God is in the business of redeeming his world. His light can shine in every darkness. But it also reminds us to be aware that none of us stand alone and our actions have consequences for good or for ill. So the things we buy have a long story behind them as do the roads we drive and the homes we live in. Equally, the impact of what we do can extend far and wide. That decision not to wash our hands or to say a kind word or to share our faith story or to stand up against an injustice or buy fair trade can all create ripples that effect people far and wide.
To know that this is true just look at the impact that the birth of a baby in the little town of Bethlehem 2000 or so years ago has had on the world. Now, sure, this baby was part of a very significant divine master plan, but Jesus was still born in a small town, lived in a backwater province in an insignificant country, occupied by the greatest empire the world had known. He was born among animals, and while angels announced his birth, they did it to shepherds, who were regarded as unclean and societal outcasts. That pattern would continue through Jesus’ life. His disciples were largely uneducated nobodies. He spent time with ‘sinners’ and societies rejects. When he was with the leaders, the educated and the powerful, he insulted them. No wonder he was put to death. He upset the ‘natural’ order of things. His resurrection then vindicated his ministry, his claims and his message. His motley crew of disciples would take that message and it would spread from occupied Palestine to the whole world. All of our lives have ripples, but what kind of effect do we want those ripples to have?
What we want is to bear good fruit. We want our families to be filled with love and our friendships to be supportive and fulfilling. We want to treat people with kindness and help others lives to be better, more whole. We want to tell people that they can experience forgiveness and grace through Christ, but we want to live it out too. This kind of fruit can grow in any conditions, under any circumstances, but it does involve planting our roots down deep, and nurturing the soil around us.
We are connected to our world and we impact it, whether we try to or not. So let’s make our impact one of love and good fruit, that bears the stamp of Jesus. May we be rooted in him so that we grow good fruit and may the world taste the sweetness of Jesus through our lives.
Grace and peace.