Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [Rom 11:11-18]
Wendy and I recently watch an old classic movie “Mrs Miniver”. If you have not seen it I encourage you to check it out. It’s filmed black and white, but reflects the grey life before World War One in England in a middle class family.
The name sake of the film has a common fellow willing the contest with his rose that he has name name for his friend, Mrs Miniver.
It reminds me of my maternal grandmother. She too was industrious, compassionate, and resourceful like Mrs. Miniver. See loved raising and tending to roses, and often grafts prize roses into existing rose bushes to experiment with many varieties in her very small back yard.
The passage today is about the church being grafted into Jewish roots, through Christ, for the world whole world.
In the lifecycle of church denominations, social perspectives, and upheaval in government, we need to remember BOTH or roots and our opportunities.
Our roots are in Christ, what was the messiah for the Jews and the witness of Grace for the Gentiles. As I child I thought the Gentiles were just another geography group that. Attlee led with Israel, who must have come from the land aNd tribe of “Gentle.”
But Gentiles were not a tribe or separate government, but the category of ‘other’ compared to being Jewish. This there were those who children of Israel, and everyone else.
The olive tree was pruned to the roots and the church became the new branch that was grafted into the witness of God.
Paul’s words in chapter 11 are to both groups. Jews were called to trust and believe Jesus was their Messiah and the small group who did believe were joined with those non-Jewish, none children of Israel, who would now receive the blessing and benefits of the promise of God to Abraham, because they too believed Jesus was not just Messiah, but believed with their hearts that Jesus, is God in the flesh, offering grace and salvation for a future of living in God.
13-15)I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
A. The new branch, has its life connected through the roots of promise, covenant, and faithfulness.. with the purpose to 1) trust with their hearts, as a 2) witness to BOTH Israel and the world.
B. The pruning of Israel was to make room for where faithfulness would bear fruit.
The prophetic word is that God’s plans will continue, will we be ACTIVELY LIVING, BELIEVING, AND TRUSTING part of the blessing and trust, OR will we be blind to the voices of the world and words of the faith.
The thing I learned about roses from my grandmother is that they need a great deal of nature and pruning. The basic bush would serve as the foundation of most any variety, but without pruning the old root would show return and graft would fade without continual growth and maturing.
Long after she moved from that house I returned and looked in the back to see if the roses were still there. None of the prize roses, in the wild runner were twisted thick together along the fences.
The message for us has two parts. Are we serving as the old stump for what is God is doing and Are we pruning that which is not glorifying God?
Most directly: we have two tasks 1) are we staying connected to the foundation of our faith, are we still trusting Christ promises and expectations, and 2) are we growing toward God’s witness in the world or just taking up nutrients from those who are bearing fruit for the kingdom of God?
What does that look like in my life: 1) we can’t be part of Christ’s work and be separated from scripture. And 2) we neither can we stay the way things were NOR male things our way just be different.
Here is the test? How are we reconciling the holding in to Christ with the call of the Spirit to follow as the wind?
How are we both holding fast and living grounded in God AND responding to an ever changing world in need of salvation and redemption?
The basics: we hold one hand in the hand and heart of God through Christ, while we extend the other to show and live for the world that faith in world that seeks salvation, wholeness, and answers that it will only satisfy when they too are connected to God, through us.
The problems we will face:
1. No matter who wins the election the division, hatred, and condemnation of our neighbors is incompatible with our faith in Christ.
2. No matter how the general conference votes next year, we are called to stand firm in God, with a world that is running from God and from each other.
3. No matter what we hear that we consider to be “news” it is incomplete and empty without the Good News of God’s grace in Christ.
4. The unity’s that God seeks is not by worlds measure, but by being United in God’s promises, blessing, and salvation.
Anything less than these and we too risk being blinded, hateful, divided, excluded,and lost.