From a Fig Tree to a Jubilant Feast

Did you know that there are at least 10 different kinds of figs: mission, belmandil, bourjassote grise, colar, milagro, negra gigante, lampa branca, velez, ficus carica, and aberdin? Mission figs are my favorite (possibly because they are the only kind I can pronounce properly). They are dark purple on the outside and have a nice plump, sweet inside. Recently, figs have become one of my favorite fruits. My kids noticed my deep affection for figs and took the time to whisper to me during service this past Sunday that my beloved fruit was interwoven into the sermon. Yum! Kids are so observant. 

In addition to my recent discovery of my love for this fruit, I discovered a new understanding of Micah 4:4: “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree…”. Micah gives hope to the people of Israel amid their suffering with these words. Things will get better. God will not let suffering be the last word. In the past, this is where my understanding ended in relation to this verse.  Recently, the diaconate has been studying a book called “Practicing The King’s Economy.”  In one of the chapters, the fig tree topic develops. When God spoke those words through Micah, His intention was to give hope with a promise of provision for all – but there was more.  He intended everyone, for whom He provided, to also provide for others in return. This was no food pantry drop-off or soup kitchen – this was a potluck. When the farmer harvested enough “figs” to feed his family, he was then to share his surplus and help out those in his community.  Everyone was responsible for doing this and there would be a jubilant feast in the community by bringing something to the table. Ancient biblical communities survived on these practices set up by God.

God constantly reminds us today that the health of the church is not about ME but about OTHERS. In Mark 12:28-31, Jesus’ greatest commandment states it clearly: we are called to love God first, then love our neighbors as ourselves. An essential element in faithfulness to Christ is to help out others. It is our calling and our duty.  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:40).

The diaconate was recently blessed to be able to help out two organizations who are our ministry partners: The Open Door NJ/NY and Servant’s Heart.  At The Open Door, we were able to give their students internet access and employment to students for community outreach. At Servant’s Heart, we were able to partially commit to one of their new construction staff’s monthly salary, an investment reaping eternal rewards. Praise God for how we are beginning to live in the King’s Economy.

What more can we do to help out those around us? The marginalized, the poor, the widows, the elderly, the lonely, the hurting… they are all out there. How can we live out the community that God intended for us? How have you shared your figs lately?  Looking for opportunities to engage? Have some great ideas of how to build relationships with the community? Heard of any resources that might be available? Need help yourself? Contact us at diaconate@graceredeemer.com and see how God is helping us serve both inside and outside the church by building bridges into all our communities.

Mei Chen has been a member of GRC since 2013 and serves as a deaconess.