PENTECOST 7

July 23, 2017
PENTECOST 7
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
 
We are back in the fields with seeds today. 
 

Last week the focus was on different ways of sowing or planting the seeds of God’s kingdom.  That parable could explain – then and now – why difference results come from planting the same seed.  Perhaps that brings comfort to those who are seeing little growth. 

But it also should be a humbling caution to those who begin to think the great harvest is all due to their faithful and good work.  Remember: that parable is mostly about the seed, folks, and secondarily about different soil!

This week we hear a story about bad seed, evil intent, and a covert operation that is not only clandestine but also quite malicious and malevolent. 

The story reflects the reality that this world and our lives know the presence of both wheat and weeds.  That is a truth we know both outside of ourselves and within ourselves.  Those ‘seeds’ grow within each of us side-by-side.  But the action to absolutely destroy the weed for sure, may significantly injure or destroy the wheat.  Both grow together until . . . . . they produce seed.

The second lesson shares the image of being children of God, heirs of the kingdom.  And so we are – by God’s grace.  Children are also sometimes referred to as ‘seed’.  As God’s children, we both have within us and are ‘seeds of the kingdom’.  How does God’s garden grow in us?

For further reflection

As seed of God’s kingdom do you feel more wheaty or weedy?  

PRAYER OF THE DAY
Faithful God, most merciful judge, you care for your children with firmness and compassion.

By your Spirit nurture us who live in your kingdom, that we may be rooted in the way of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

LESSONS AND PSALM
            Isaiah 44:6–8
            Psalm 86:11–17
            Romans 8:12–25

            Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

CHILDREN’S SERMON: "Children"

SERMON:  "Seeds and Weeds"

WORD OF THE WEEK from Matthew 13
[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' 28He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
 
FIRST LESSON from Isaiah 44:6–8
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,
            and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
            besides me there is no god.
7Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,
            let them declare and set it forth before me.
Who has announced from of old the things to come?
            Let them tell us what is yet to be.
8Do not fear, or be afraid;
            have I not told you from of old and declared it?
            You are my witnesses!
Is there any god besides me?
            There is no other rock; I know not one.
 
SECOND LESSON from Romans 8:12–25
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
            18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

            24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' 28He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
            36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." 37He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.

            41"The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 30, 2017
PENTECOST 8

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

We are on roll about images of the Kingdom of God.  We have heard about seeds, sowing, soils, and about weeds intentionally sown among the wheat.  Perhaps these stories were to comfort people then and now who wrestled with the question of ‘if God is so good, why does my wheat field have so many weeds?’.

In other words, these stories address the questions people of faith voice about their daily lives.  If I am a person of God, then: why am I not more kind and forgiving?  Why do I get impatient with people?  Why do I come across as haughty?  Why do I experience very hard places and times?  Why is there injustice and inhumanity?

Apparently those kingdom-seed images did not satisfy everyone.  The Gospel this week gives us a Readers’ Digest-like list that the kingdom is like:  a mustard seed, yeast, a treasure in a field, a merchant in search of fine pearls, a net thrown into the sea.   Jesus asks his hearer if they understand all this.  They say, “yes”.   Really?  I am not certain I do.  Is it a multiple choice,  like casting a net to see if one of those images connects?   Then I choose . . . . . . .

Romans weighs in on the debate by saying all things work together for good for those who love God.  Good to know.

Three-thousand-plus years ago King David’s son Solomon was about to become king.  In a dream he was visited by God who asked what God should give the about-to-be-king.  Solomon’s response pleased God.  Solomon did not ask for long life, riches, large family, or even the life of his enemies.

Solomon asked for the ability to discern good from evil.   Very good.

That is a foundational ability for any leader and for any person.  I wish I were better at such discerning.  People come to the church  and express their need. Some need a little money for this or for that. I wish I had the ability to see the people glowing a particular color to know whether they were being genuine or were just conning me. 

Maybe I also need to be more aware or discerning about seeing and naming God’s goodness in the world.

For further reflection
Where do you see God’s goodness in your daily life?

 

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Beloved and sovereign God, through the death and resurrection of your Son you bring us into your kingdom of justice and mercy. By your Spirit, give us your wisdom, that we may treasure the life that comes from Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

LESSONS AND PSALM
            1 Kings 3:5–12
            Psalm 119:129–136
            Romans 8:26–39

            Matthew 13:31–33, 44–52

CHILDREN’S SERMON: "Intercede"
SERMON:  "How then Shall we Pray?"
 
WORD OF THE WEEK from Romans 8
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

            28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

FIRST LESSON from 1 Kings 3:5–12
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, "Ask what I should give you." 6And Solomon said, "You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?"

            10It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you."

SECOND LESSON from Romans 8:26–39
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
            28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
            31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written,
            "For your sake we are being killed all day long;
                        we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered."

            37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

THE HOLY GOSPEL the words according to Matthew 13:31–33, 44–52
[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
            33He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."
            44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
            45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
            47"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
            51"Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." 52And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."