Good morning all!
Today’s scripture: Judges 9:7-15
When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ The olive tree answered them, ‘Shall I stop producing my rich oil by which gods and mortals are honored, and go to sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’But the fig tree answered them, ‘Shall I stop producing my sweetness and my delicious fruit, and go to sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I stop producing my wine that cheers gods and mortals, and go to sway over the trees?’ So all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’
When I googled “bramble” for images this is the first image I got in the search. I am trying to imagine what it would mean for bramble to rule. All of other other lush plants are too busy producing and yet the bramble is left on to rule over the vines and the trees. Bramble still produces in abundance…especially this bramble.
I grew up with blackberries all around. I grew up in a house on 3 acres in town with a field just across from our front yard and a small filbert (you may say hazelnut) orchard that surrounded our driveway and a view of the canal that ran through town out of our backdoor. There was blackberry bramble all over the place. My brothers and I would spend time outside in the summer and come in with purple mouths when the season for ripe blackberries came. They were delicious but the vines were also super annoying.
The vines are annoying because they sprout up EVERYWHERE! They are invasive and take over. It just takes one little piece of the bramble for the plant to spread. I hate seeing a little sprout of blackberry bramble in my garden now. I dig it out and pull on roots and then I throw the remains away so as to not spread the vine all over my yard…it doesn’t take long for it to spread.
I would much rather have other things spread around…those delicious other vegetables that are a little more controlled.
So when I googled the bramble and saw these dreaded blackberries (although a pleasant sight sometiems too) I could relate to how ridiculous this parable from Judges is. When no one else wants to rule…we get bramble. I am not quite sure what to do with this story in our lectionary today but somehow it sticks out to me. Sometimes it is the people that we least expect who will step up to the day? You know, when I hear about the mustard seed later on in our gospels I actually go back to this image of blackberry vines. Because here in the Northwest, it is like the mustard seed…invasive…all over the place…starts from very small starts…produces something delicious and yet we try not to spread it around…
Sorry I am rambling a bit today but sometimes we have to do that with scripture. In the end, if the bramble rules then we can take shade in the bramble. Sometimes the least likely leader steps up and gives us the best possible option?
Struggling with what to do with the story is all part of Lent. Struggling with scripture is a good thing in my book. We can relate to life experiences, look at the context, and deal with the story from many different angles. Struggling with the scriptures contextual experience is necessary in living out what we hear, how we interpret the story and where we go from here. Sorry to not have answers for you today but I hope you struggle as much as I do….
What do you think about the bramble?