St. Mark's Episcopal Church

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Pentecost 5 2011 Sermon
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Rev. Joyce Avery

Today's Gospel lesson is another one of Jesus’ famous Parables.
 
When you plant a seed, you put it in the dark, quiet ground and nothing happens: No violins sing, no trumpets blow, no drums roll.  Nevertheless, the spark of life begins to ignite and, slowly but surely, the seed takes root and a plant pushes itself through the ground.  Then there is a harvest!  When you turn your mind and heart to God, Nothing happens--or so it seems.  No heavenly choirs sing, no thunder rolls, no lightening strikes.  Nevertheless, in the quietness of your prayer, the divine spark ignites and begins to take root in your being and, as it grows, it shows forth in your life.  Something has changed; you are reaping a God-centered harvest of thought and action, different than ever before.
 
This passage of seed planting brings to mind of the time I have ­seen on TV, in slow motion, of a flower, growing from a bulb.  Growing & growing and then getting leaves then a bud forming, then when the bud slowly starts to open to a beautiful flower in full bloom.  It was amazing to watch.
 
But then, this might be like us, when we first heard about Jesus and his love for us.  This is how we might have grown in faith, until we are full grown believers.  I don't think that we are all beautiful full grown flowers, but God probably doesn't care what we look like.  He just wants us to be one of his children.
 
"The Reign of God may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field," then the evil one-came at night and sewed weeds among the wheat.  So guess what, the seeds all came up together, and what a mess it was.  Jesus explains, in today's Gospel Lesson, to the disciples that, in the parable, the "Man who sowed good seed" is the "Son of Man"--that is Jesus himself.  The "field," he says, "is the world."  And the "Good Seed, the citizens of the Kingdom."  The bad seed is from the evil one or probably the devil.
 
Just who are the citizens of the Kingdom?  A famous track star was asked what he considered to be the most important part of a race.  "The start" he replied.  "I must be ready."  The citizens of the Kingdom learn to start each new day in the Quietness of Prayer:  "Today is God's Day.  The Loving presence of Christ surrounds, guides, protects and blesses us.  God's plan for peace and brotherhood is fully present in all we do this Day."
 
A citizen of the Kingdom is like Saint Teresa who had a wonderful vision of God's presence when she said, "God walks among the pots and pans," then added,
“Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I've no time to be
a Saint by doing lovely things, or watching late with thee,
or dreaming in the dawn light, or storming heaven's gates
make me a Saint by getting meals, and washing up the plates.
Warm all the Kitchen with thy Jove, and light it with thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease,
Thou who didst love to give men food, in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do -
I do it unto thee."
 
Lord, "Accept the service that I do - I do it unto Thee."  Wherever you are, whatever challenges you meet, whatever trials you undergo, whatever relationships you enter into, God is there.  You are never separated from God.  "Your life is hidden now with Christ in God,"  The Apostle Paul has written. “God, who is life, is the giver of life.” When we accept this truth we open our own life up to its full possibilities; we open the way to full expression of God's life in us; we open the door to the inexhaustible source of abundant life.
 
When your life seems complicated and perplexing, in the midst of the confusion and discord let yourself become quiet, let the divine presence permeate your being --your thoughts and emotions, the very atmosphere about you.  Let yourself be filled with the power of God's presence and know that you have discovered the sure way to transform things-as-they-are--into things-as-they-ought -to-be.
 
God has sown for us the seed of Love.  To reap a harvest of Love we must cultivate the seed.  The seed of Love is watered with love, weeded with patience, tended with forgiveness and compassion.
 
The powers and the sources of evil in this world have sown the seed of Fear.  The seed of Fear is watered with fear, tended with hatred, nourished with unforgiveness and Insensitivity.  And the cultivators of the seed of Fear reap a harvest of fear.
 
The idea of vengeance is a bad seed, root it out!  The desire to pronounce self-righteous judgment is a bad seed.  Root it out!  The worship of the false God called "Materialism" is a bad seed.  Root it out!  There are so many bad seeds sewn in the world.  All you have to do is read the paper and all the wrong that is being done; most all the wrongs that are going on, are not corrected.  Maybe God would give us angel wings if we could some how straighten out the wrong and make it right!!  Very doubt- full though, I don't think that I am qualified to wear angel wings.
 
Centuries ago, a man named "Moses" was enjoying the security of a good marriage and a good position in his father-in law's business.  Moses had "settled down."  Then God broke through all that security saying, "Moses, Moses .. I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry .. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians."  At first, Moses resisted God's call to be more than a spectator to the oppression his people were enduring.  "Who am I that I should go to the Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" he asked.  If there are reasons for us to resist God's calling us out of our spectator's role, there are stronger ones for us to accept.  In answer to Moses' objection, God said, "But I will be with you."  And so Moses agreed to go, and delivered his people from bondage.
 
In Genesis, the story of Jacob was a great one. I wish I could dream dreams like Jacob did, seeing the ladder reach from earth to heaven and angels of God were going up and down on it.  Then the Lord stood beside him and said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and God of Isaac.  Then God offered him the land on which Jacob lie, that spread from east to west, north and south;  When Jacob awoke he said "Surely the Lord is in this place," How awesome is this place."  Then he took the stone, which he had used for a pillow, and poured oil on it and set it on a pillar and called it Bethel: the house of God.  This is a place in which the lost are found and the blind are given sight.  We do not know what is coming next; but we find hope and prepare ourselves for the goodness of God as God reaps the harvest of the faithful, and changes the lives of the lost.

Hard work or easy, whatever our gift, whatever our own suffering may be, we can be sure we're never alone.
 
God's promise as described in Jacob's dream was especially beautiful.  "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you."
 
We are all very lucky because when someone asks us about our family, we can all say,. "My family is all God's people and we have God's promise that we will never be alone."  Amen
 
Info- from Sermons That Work: Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz and Harry Denman.  Also, Sunday Sermons 1984 




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