[#pictureAdvent] December 16: PRODUCE

By Jack Ladd
Gray Memorial UMC     
Tallahassee, FL

First, read Luke 3: 8-14

One of the things I wish I did more of is shop from the “produce” section of the grocery store, or perhaps even to go to the local farmer’s market more often to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables there.

I wish I were more willing to create meals out of these fresh ingredients, but I often resort to the “easy” way out: buying frozen dinners or ready-to-make meals. I pass the produce section by, thinking, “who I am kidding, I don’t have time to cook!” or “I would have no idea what to do with this stuff.”

Our passage today in Luke 3 uses the word “produce” as a verb rather than a noun in verse 8, saying “produce good fruits of repentance.”

I use similar excuses NOT to do that as I indicated above. “It’s too hard,” “I don’t know how,” or “it would end up a mess.”

Behind these excuses is a fear that what I do may not be good enough.  The meal that I want to try to make with fresh produce might not taste very good. I may ruin it and waste my efforts. The attempts I make to do good things in the world may fail and end up looking like a disaster. These are my fears.

But John the Baptist implores his audience here to give what they have. Whether that is their extra clothes or food, or simply doing their job with integrity, his audience is asked not to do some impossible thing, but to simply give of themselves.

To my relief, I was reminded by this implication by John that this is not to get on God’s good side, as if I am not already loved by God, but for the sake of repentance; for MY sake. However selfish that sounds, it is comforting to know that producing good fruits, doing these good things in the world, will turn my life around.

Some of the best meals I have ever had were because I knew it was made with love, not because it was perfect. John the Baptist implores his audience, and us, to produce “fresh produce” or “good fruit” in the world. This is not about being perfect; it isn’t about how many mistakes you’ve made, or all of the times you fail.  There is something about the honest attempt at doing good in the world that aligns us with God. So, let this lesson from John encourage you to do your best; to give what you have to your community. Fear not, for it is God who ultimately uses what you give and turns it into “fresh produce.”

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. What are some things that hold you back from trying to do good in your community?

2. Have you ever failed at the attempt of trying to serve someone?

3. How does producing “good fruit (fresh produce)” help you repent towards God?