Sermons are among the most important things in the worshipping life of a church.  Nearly always related to the Gospel reading of the day, they hopefully help us to apply what we have heard in the reading to the ways in which we are leading our lives and to current events.  Sermons are designed to help us to understand that God is always relevant and is with us.

The weekly sermon is delivered during our Parish Eucharist at 9.30am on Sundays.  All are welcome to join us for the service and for coffee in the church hall afterwards. There may be an opportunity to speak to the preacher about their sermon then.

The example of a sermon below, repeated in full, is by Abigail Hiscock, and is taken from the 9.30am service on Sunday 3rd March 2013.

Sermon on the parable of the fig tree           

Luke 13 1-9

At this time of Lenten fast, Let God be in my mouth and in my speaking
And in so doing, Let his Holy Word fill our minds and renew our understanding. Amen
Day eighteen without chocolate. At day eighteen without any chocolate, there are a few of us, no doubt many of us women, who are facing the quandary. We long for just one melting moment, a square of heavenly dairy milk, sending its rich, heady endorphins rushing to that part of the brain the says “bliss”. On the other hand, we are thinking that without that blissful moment on the lips, those chocolates won’t be carried forever on the hips, motivating us persevere until 31st March.  …Then, at last, the gold foil on the Chocolate bunnies is stripped away to be munched quickly and humanely from the ears down.  I can’t wait!

But of course in the days of Jesus and the disciples, there was no chocolate and there was no lent. Yet by the standards of 2013, every day would be a Lenten fast of epic proportion, denied  not just confectionary but so much that we take for granted; light after dark; running water; a lift to school; a quick microwave meal. There were no flights to exotic holidays, no Britain’s Got Talent, no Facebook updates. We are a society that by comparison is addicted to and expects to be fixed with amenities and delights at our finger tips, for immediate consumption, without much consideration for how it gets there.  Let us just pause for a moment to reflect on all the things we simply take for granted.  … … …

The parable of the fig tree paints a picture of a man who cannot wait. He doesn’t have chocolate but his fast has lasted not 18 days but three years for his precious fig tree to fruit. He can’t wait any longer to bite down into the sweet, syrupy flesh of a fig, perhaps with honey and yoghurt which may have been just about the sweetest flavours known to that world. He can’t wait to take the excess fruit to sell those natural, slow-growing delicacies to be consumed in the market place by the sweet toothed, before the fruits have even made it home. In both these ways, his profit has failed him. “Cut it down!” says the vineyard owner to the gardener, “why should it be wasting the soil”?

Why should he be wasting the soil when he could grow peaches, or plant a variety of grape that has profited him so well elsewhere in his vineyard? Yet the Gardener responds, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”

Cut it down…. Do you recall the feeling of being cut down before even having the opportunity to show your gift to the world, perhaps because you don’t know the true nature of your gift yet yourself? Can you look back at a time in your life when Jesus dug around you, unsettled your protective layers and threw dung over you down to your very roots ….and through this indignity saved you and nurtured you and allowed you to at last bear your own unique exotic, spirit grown fruit and offer it to the world? Perhaps you haven’t yet been disturbed this way by Jesus your Gardener? Or perhaps today you are struggling with the hand that life has dealt you and with allowing Jesus disrupt your foundations so that he might nurture you and fill you with new life?

Cut it down????  What if each of us were the potential fruit of a fig tree called All Saints’ Orpington? And what if now is the time that our Lord and gardener was preparing our ground in readiness for our fruiting? Are we ready to gather each precious fruit carefully and nurture each one for the benefit of our marketplace, the people of Orpington, so that they can savour and benefit from what we have to offer in our mission? This lent, let’s focus on how we can each of us prepare our ground to best serve the mission of God in Orpington. I am an impatient optimist, and can’t wait to see how we will respond to God’s call to us, to be the fig tree of our fullest potential. If we constantly ask the questions, “How can we prepare? What else can we do? “And responding as best we can, we will never be wasting our soil.

This is why Lent is a lesson of preparation and waiting. During Lent, we wait patiently for Easter in the rising of our Lord Jesus Christ. We often describe ourselves as Easter People, but perhaps too, whenever we fear change, or God calling us beyond our comfort zone, God’s time includes our time to prepare, to ripen and become fit to deliver His calling to us. The parable of the fig tree reminds us not only to be an Easter People but a Lenten people too.         Amen.