We can hear this as an invitation, as it is used in the Psalms. Its sounds like a welcome, a beckoning, a chance to draw closer to God and benefit from the bounty of God’s goodness.
Such an invitation suggests that we are returning. It implies that we have traveled elsewhere, and we are invited to a homecoming. Whether metaphorical or literal, the idea of being parted from a beloved one, and invited to COME back, speaks to most of us. We are all moving to or away from something in our lives. We have probably all been lost or wandered, parted from the integrity of our best selves, from healthy connections to others, from the wellbeing of the world, or from meaningful bonds to Godself.
The theme of Biblical stories encompasses the journeys of God’s people. God’s love is a movement of creating us, making a home for us, letting us go out into the world, encountering us repeatedly along the way, and welcoming us back again and again into deeper relationship in spite of ourselves (ie, homecoming). We may enjoy a respite in a place of sanctuary, such as a garden or a promised land, only to go out into the wider world again, and then have adventures and misadventures, and struggle back toward that place of peace, healing and mercy.
On the other hand, if what COMES is something that happens to us, instead of due to our choice, it can be threatening and risky, or it might be exhilarating. Such is the usage of COME in the letter from Paul to Corinth … as he talked about the arrival of the end of the age, whether people are ready or not. In this case, things come toward us or come at us, and we are cautioned to be vigilant and ready to handle them. If we don’t have the opportunity to prepare, which happens to many of us, then perhaps we turn to God to find ways to respond to the events or circumstances that have come upon us.
Finally, we have the complaint of a fruit tree’s owner, who returns again and again, COMING by to get what he expects from his non-producing tree, then threatening to cut it down. The gardener pleads for redemption, and a chance to spend more time, at least another season, to nurture the tree and coax it to bear fruit. In my reading, we are the trees in need of patience and compassionate care, and the gardener is Christ, tending us with God’s redemptive love.
COME toward the love of the gardener in the garden. The choice to return is always ours to make, but the invitation from God is offered again and again.
Excerpts from today’s lectionary readings:
- Psalm 55: 1 –Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.
- Psalm 55: 3 — Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.
- 1 Corinthians 10: 11b — And they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
- Luke 13:7 –So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree.”