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Polka-Dotted Pears

I tell you, then, that the Kingdom of God will be given to a people who will produce its fruit (Matthew 21:43) Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

You've likely heard of rainbow trout and maybe even pinstriped pythons, but what about blue tomatoes? They may sound like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but blue tomatoes really do exist! Researchers at Oregon State University have begun growing blue tomatoes by cross-pollinating domestic plants with wild varieties. The result is a tomato with the same dark blue pigment found in blueberries and blackberries. No doubt, spaghetti with blue sauce makes for great conversation. But equally certain is the fact that genetic engineering of our food supply is an increasingly controversial topic at many a dinner table. With so much tinkering going on with the basic make up of fruits and vegetables, it's no mystery why so many of us are asking questions. Who can say what's next -- paisley pomegranates and polka-dotted pears? Only time will tell what fruits today's food scientists will ultimately bear.

On the subject of fruit-bearing, Jesus had plenty to say. In today's Gospel we read, "I tell you, then, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit" (Mt. 21:43). Jesus, of course, was referring to His disciples, then and now. And that includes us -- you and me. In today's Lesson, His instruction to the chief priests and the elders who have questioned His authority is known as "The Parable of the Tenants":

As the parable tells us, the owner of a vineyard leases it to some tenant farmers. For three successive years the tenants forcibly resist the owner's efforts to claim his rightful share of the harvest. They murder his agents who come to collect. And, after three harvests, they are in a strong position to acquire ownership of the land by means of what we would call "squatters rights." If they can successfully resist the owner's claims following the fourth harvest they will be in a legal position to assert ownership for themselves. The owner's legal recourse is to lodge a formal complaint against the scheming tenants, before witnesses. To do this, the owner is required by law to physically [...]

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Stories you can use...

We've got a million of them (well, almost).

Kindness, Children, Compassion

“When the Lord saw her, He felt sorry for her, ‘Do not cry,’ He said” (Luke 7:13). Charles Lindbergh’s father-in-law, Dwight Morrow, was a friend and admirer of Calvin Coolidge. He told a group of friends that Coolidge had real presidential possibilities. But they disagreed, saying that he lacked color and political personality. Someone summed up the group’s feeling, saying, “The people just wouldn’t like him.” Hearing this, Morrow’s little six-year-old daughter, Anne, made her presence known. She showed her father ’s friends her finger with a little bandage taped around it. “He was the only one who asked me about my sore finger,” she said.

Service, Healing, Reconciliation

“. . . he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘you are bretheren’” (Acts 7:26). A bright and cheerful young nurse was attending a new patient named Tom in the men’s ward of a big city hospital. The patient was desperately ill and the nurse did all she could to make him comfortable. But the man was surly and downright rude. And his only response to the nurse’s cheerful charm was a string of profanities and blasphemies. The nurse was broken-hearted because she knew the poor fellow was dying and that there was little she could do but pray for him, silently and earnestly, as she went about her rounds. Then, when she saw the opportunity, she spoke to him gently and tactfully about God’s goodness and mercy. Whereupon, the man turned on her fiercely and, with a curse on his lips, used his last ounce of strength to strike her a stinging blow across the cheek. Immediately, the scene in the ward turned chaotic as half a dozen men rose from their beds and rushed to defend her. But quietly the nurse said, “Please, gentlemen, go back to your beds. If the head nurse or a doctor hears you, Tom will be in real trouble.” And so the would-be rescuers backed off. The nurse then noticed that Tom, though still conscious, was gasping for breath. He couldn’t last long. So she drew close to him and prayed as she’d never prayed before. After a bit, she stopped, whispered his name and said, “God loves you.” She looked up and saw that Tom’s eyes were fixed on her. She smiled, and, to her joy, Tom smiled too, and his feeble lips formed just two words, almost inaudible: “Sorry ... Pray.” Then, to her surprise, Tom seemed to rally enough to join in the whispering of the Lord’s Prayer. And when they came to the words, “Deliver us from evil,” Tom sank back and breathed his last. Tears flowed from the nurse’s eyes, but there was gladness in her heart, as she whispered a final prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for that blow on the cheek.”

Morality

In a certain Sunday school there were a number of teachers who had been through the same training program. Consequently, they all went about their work using the same techniques. They would share a Bible story with the children and then they would say, “Now children, the moral of the story is this...” Except Miss Brown. She was a young teacher who didn’t care much for this method of Bible teaching and so she did her own thing. Her approach was fresh and different and the children loved her for it. One of the mothers asked her little boy why the children liked Miss Brown so much. You can imagine the shock when the little boy answered, “Oh, we love Miss Brown because she has no morals.”

New Life

”Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24) Clad in the golds and reds of triumph, the leaves make the mountains a miracle, the valleys a place of wonder. And yet these leaves are dying. They are about to flutter from the trees down to the waiting earth where, in death, they will become soft mulch, brown mold, and indistinguishable earth. And then, new leaves again. And so they die, refusing to remember with anguish other days long ago when they were fresh little tendrils, breaking from the bud in the lush warmth of spring. Or the summer days when they were green luxuriant foliage. Instead, they deck themselves in joy. Because, after the mulch and the mold and the earth, they will become new leaves again. This must be the meaning of their reds, and of their golds!

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