Choral Evensong Lent 3
The gospel set for the Eucharist this morning used the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13.1-9) and how a fruitless tree was given a further year and much care to give it a chance of bearing fruit. It raised the question of ‘fruitful living’ – an appropriate consideration for Lent but an awkward pun.
The reading this evening from Genesis puts the question differently as we are introduced to one of the Old Testaments most dodgy patriarchs, Jacob. Jacob is the sort of character who can really set your teeth on edge: he is a real ‘Mummy’s’ boy; cosseted, always out for the main chance – cunning, an entrepreneur – until he goes too far; he resorts to fraud to steal his father’s blessing, and has to run away.
This evening we meet Jacob ‘on the run’. Here is someone who seems to be condemned to a fruitless life – he is homeless, landless, kinless and hunted. Night forces him to stop running and make camp; we may imagine that it is with a troubled mind that he finally falls asleep – and so we read of the most extraordinary and possibly most famous of dreams – the dream that causes Jacob when he awakes to say ‘Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.’
At the end of his tether and without any expectations, Jacob has a vision of the closeness of God and the purpose of God. He is given a glimpse of a fruitful life: his descendants will be ‘like the dust of the earth’ and all the families of the earth will be blessed in him and his offspring.
In the darkness and the fear, God has been present to Jacob. From that experiences Jacob rises, a different man. May we see in him the sign of something at last starting to bear fruit?