Fruit

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

 

—Matthew 10:40-42

From our bedroom window, we have a sight that simply brings me joy.

We can see a peach tree, a tree belonging to our daughter having been a birthday present several years ago.  Each year, I know that spring has arrived when I see dozens of pink blossoms decorating its branches.  Every flower serves as the site of a small promise, a site where blossom exchanges with a golden, sweet fruit.  As the summer stretches towards autumn, we regularly go outside, stand under our tree, and count the peaches hanging from its branches, delighting in implied pledges of pie and ice cream and snacks.

Those peaches do not just carry in them something good to eat. While they do offer the hope of a nice summer’s snack, those peaches also carry much more with them. They carry with them a summer-worth of rain and sun; rich nutrients; and countless encounters with pollen-happy bees. They carry with them knowledge, the knowledge we gain as a family as we learn to care and tend to our tree. They carry with them joy, the joy we share as parents with child who gleefully count the blossoms and name the treats the fruit will make. They carry with them new connections, connections that we will make with yet-to-be-known friends and neighbors who will certainly share in a belly-warming cobbler sometime next autumn. They carry with them love, the ripening love from a friend to our child as a reminder that someone cares for us.

These little blossoms represent so much more than simply the site of this season’s fruit. These blossoms represent the efficiency of nature, the joy of eating, and the fruit of relationships had and to be had. They represent more than just themselves. They represent those who planted the tree, cultivated it, sold it, transported it, bought it, and replanted it. Presently, the fruit represents seemingly endless imaginings of who touched our tree in the past and whom its fruit will connect us to in the future.

Often times, it appears that what looks rather simple at first glance is much more complicated, more intricate that initially assumed.  A similar observation made of our peach tree can be made of Jesus’ sending of the disciples in Matthew’s gospel.

In this final section of chapter ten in Matthew’s gospel, we return with Bonhoeffer and the gospel writer to the theme that started the chapter: the command to send the disciples in Jesus’ name.  This “bookending” of the chapter with this repeated emphasis underlines the importance of the disciples’ being sent. Yet, not to be lost in this repeated emphasis is the reminder that when they go, the disciples do not travel alone. They take with them Christ, himself.

The disciples carry with them the plans of a kingdom, the hopes of a redefined world, the promises of new life. Yet, more than these three, the disciples carry with them the presence of Jesus and, in turn, a direct connection to God, the Creator of all things. It is this representative role that is so profound in the work and role of the disciples.

Here, Jesus reminds the disciples that the presence that they offer is not just simply their own, but that within them they carry the very essence of the kingdom, of Jesus, and, therefore, of God. The disciples do not stand on their own. They stand with and on behalf of many.

At times, such a corporate nature—representing many and carrying many with you—might serve as a great gift to the disciples, supporting and buoying them when the road they travel gets lonely. Discipleship can feel isolating and remembering that others and God stand with them will take them that one step further when additional steps seem too difficult to take. Yet, at other times, disciples need to remember that their actions do not just represent themselves but an entire community of people who have gone before, who currently witness to the same faith, and who are yet to come. Even more, disciples have to be reminded that they stand in for God, embodying the divine presence to the world in real and imagined ways.

Such a representative role may prove enlivening and encouraging yet burdensome and daunting. However, like our peach tree carrying new blooms each spring, in the discipleship’s representative role, while much is carried, much more is promised. Each carrier of the gospel bears the possibilities of the kingdom, a kingdom of transformative and life-altering love, a kingdom of justice and peace, a kingdom of common care and individual worth, a kingdom of tomorrow’s hopes sprouting in the promises of today.

A harvest of transformative love, peace, care, and hope . . . that sounds like pretty good fruit to me, fruit worth waiting for and working to cultivate.

Have a great week and see you along the way.

 

 

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