Devotional for the week of November 29, 2020
Fig trees mature slowly. They don’t require much maintenance, but they do require plenty of time to grow. Some fig trees take years to start producing fruit. It may be tempting to give up on a fig too soon, but the patient gardener knows to wait and watch for the subtle signs that the fig tree is about to produce.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson,” Jesus says in today’s gospel (Mark 13:28). Just as the gardener watches for indications that a bud is about to unfold, so should believers watch for where God’s presence is emerging in the world.
Jesus’ words in this passage paint a picture of God’s arrival as unsettling and fearsome, with darkening skies and shaking celestial orbs. It is hard to imagine how anyone could miss such an arrival, yet Jesus warns his listeners that those who are not vigilant will be caught unaware. We must watch with care and patience for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man, like the gardener who watches for the ripening fig. If you think such signs can be ignored, you will miss the surprising, gentle cry of the incarnate God come as a tiny, vulnerable baby.
Today, at the beginning of Advent, we enter a season of waiting and watching as we anticipate with hope the coming of Christ’s light into the world. Yet, even as we wait, there are active signs of God’s presence all around us now—in water and word, in bread and wine, in the assembly gathered for worship. These signs remind us of God’s gracious love toward us. At the same time, the lesson of the fig tree reminds us to stay curious and attentive, open to what might surprise us. God is always up to something new.
Devotional message and art based on the readings for November 29th, reprinted from sundaysandseasons.com.
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