Tag: 18-23

Keep on Sowing

Sermon, Pentecost 6A, Sunday July 16, 2017, St Petri

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’

 

18 ‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’

 

I heard with interest last week that the Barossa is no longer a “Lutheran” place. “No Religion” is now the way a huge part of our community name themselves. How do we who name ourselves disciples of Christ respond to this? Where is the Lord in all of this?

We enter the second large chunk of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s gospel today.

His ministry has begun. Things are getting a little large. So large that Jesus is in a boat moored just off the sandy shore of the lake to speak. I have been to where they suspect this kind of moment probably would have occurred. The slope of the open ground going up away from the shore and the water around his voice surely makes for natural amplifier for his voice. The day I was there I could hear a guy talking to his mate in the vineyard below us nearly a kilometre away. Jesus needs this amplifier.

And so, the Teacher teaches from the boat; about being a farmer sowing seeds.

We hear that the farmer is God, sowing his words into human hearts. Some hear. Many don’t. Some hear at first then don’t. Sounds a lot like an “other religion” community a local church sowing the gospel among them!

Surely Jesus knew that his disciples, his church, would have to figure out how to respond to a mixed response to their sowing of his words. In fact, most often, people won’t receive his words, according to this parable. But listen and sow, those who have truly heard must. At the end of this parable we hear that supernatural fruitfulness will be present too. There will be at times a vast crop!

And it all depends on him speaking and people hearing……

The truth is here: there is different hearing and not all hearing ends up in lasting understanding and fruitful doing.

What does he mean by ‘hearing’? Jesus is speaking not of mere hearing of the news or a good joke or a great story or the watching of a movie as entertainment or the listening to a song in order to just pass the time. He is speaking of deeply listen to his words.

The Greek word eisakouo used here for ‘understanding/hearing can be defined as ‘to hear’, ‘to heed’, or ‘to obey’. These words are to be heard because they will be on the test!

So, the listening Jesus is after is a deep attentive listening in the heart that translates then into actually living/doing. Jesus ends the parable by telling the crowd that deep listening (the good soil) will translate into fruitful doing.

23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’

So, we get the pretty straight forward gist of the parable – on the surface anyway…

God sows his seed, his Word, into the human crowd. Or, his disciples sow the words of God into the community.

Some of God’s word falls on the rock hard, impenetrable path. The birds or, Evil one snatches the good words of God’s acceptance and love (gospel) as it is heard or even before it is heard. Like seagulls pinching your chips on the beach, so can it be that Satan can snatch that good gospel word away from a person, giving that word no time to germinate. It is over before it began sometimes.

But gospel words can be received with great joy. People experience the relief and the renewal of sins forgiven, regrets replaced and love experienced. But then stuff happens. The heat and stress is too much. Again, there has not been enough time or space for the words to be heard deeply. The gospel stays at surface level. This is the rocky ground of our hearts and theirs: No roots, no depth. God’s word getting burnt off by heat of life.

And then there is the word strangled out of the human heart like toothpaste out of the tube as the heart gets overwhelmed, overtaken and overly fixated on issues, choices, worry, self-concerns or concern for others, with little reference to Jesus’ words or trust in his promises. This is the thorny place, overcoming and eventually choking the good seed planted in God’s good ground.

But it sometimes also works well. There is good soil, which according to Jesus is a hearing heart; soft, open, receptive of the seed where the deep things of his grace and calling can and do take root and grow deeper and longer.

This is the deep listening that leads to understanding. It is long lasting. This is the Divine word being heard and then done or “heeded”, or “obeyed”: So crucial for a community of disciples sent into a world of these very mixed responses!

Even better for us who are called to sow his Words here: This word becomes self-sowing and multiplying. Indeed, the fruitfulness can be massive – “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”. A lot or little, it is a powerful growing Word that does what says and says what it does.

As I hear this parable I always find myself wondering what my own heart is like. I can be all four types of ground – and that is before lunch time!

So where are you in all of this?

Am I a path where God’s Word does not even hardly touch me?

Am I rocky ground where there are brief moments of true joy in the gospel that soon give way to chasing a better deal, a better thing, a high experience, a new thing to “keep me going” in all my issues and troubles….. other than the simple, powerful wonderful gospel and gospel gifts on offer all the time with God’s people who are just like me.

Or are there just too many thorns; too many weeds squashing the life out of my heart like that toothpaste out of the tube? It can feel that way. There is so much to think about and do and be responsible for, family, work, school, study, relationships church….

Which ground are you today? Can your ears hear what he is speaking?

Now hear this. The best news you will hear all day is this: God is not a good farmer.

Did you notice that the farmer throws the precious seed around all over the place? We would not do it that way. We would get the GPS out and mark off the paddock and not waste a thing to maximise productivity.

Not Jesus. He just throws himself around on all the ground – hard, rocky, thorny and sometimes deep listening ground.

What a relief! God just keeps throwing out that word of grace and love and calling no matter where it falls – path, rock, thorns or ready ground.

That means that if your heart is a stone-cold path, or a craggy and cranky place, a thorny overgrown dark place or a deep-ripped open, receptive place for God’s good words, you still get the seed.

Jesus obviously wants to produce a good and large crop in you for the sake of many others.

That path can be jack-hammered into a more receptive place by God’s law so that the gospel finds some good open soil to grow in you.

The Evil One does not have to get a look in. By attentive receiving his love for you, that seagull Satan, can be warded off and the meal can continue in joy!

He calls you who may be in a rocky place to go deeper. He calls you to search deeper prayers, deeper songs; some old some new, go deep into his Word, alone and with others.

We don’t have to pull the thorns out. By attentiveness in the heart to his words and ways we outgrow them, overcome them and steer clear of them.

As he indiscriminately and patiently sows his gospel word in us, whether we are stone-cold heard, rocky, thorny or clear, it takes root, it grows. It multiplies. It is unstoppable.

Then we are like Jesus – sowing indiscriminately on all the kinds of ground we find here in our community. That free, joyful, patient, non-judgmental and generous sowing is our character as a person and as a local church in Jesus’ kingdom mission.

The impenetrable people, the rocky people, the thorny people and the open receptive people can all live here.

And the Sower keeps sowing, his words keep growing, his disciples keep throwing that gospel seed around all over the place, especially in the “no religion ground. The tonnage grown is not in our control or our concern.

We sow gospel not for profit. We do it for love and for joy.

Just keep sowing. It is where the joy is.

Amen

CONVERSATION STARTERS

 

Read the parable picturing the farmer and the sowing as you go. Stop at verse 9. Share any experiences of sowing you have had in life and how the story Jesus tells here is similar or different to your experience of planting seeds, harvesting on a farm, growing veges or gardening in general…

 

Note that we have already had one large chunk of teaching from Jesus in ‘the Sermon on the Mount’ (chapters 5-6 and beginning of 7. Now we have another large chunk of teaching. This is the beginning of it.

 

The first thing we hear is that there are now large crowds making things a bit tricky. What does Jesus need to do in order to be heard by the huge crowd?

 

Jesus has also done many healings and spoken many words in this northern area of Israel (chapter 8-9. And he has already sent out his disciples in pairs around the region to do the same (chapter 10). No wonder the crowd are large. A lot has been said and done by Jesus and a large group of disciples.

In a way he had already ‘multiplied’ himself by doing this.

 

Now read from verse 18. This is the explanation of the parable Jesus has spoken to the crowd, now ‘unpacked’ in the intimacy of his small band of brothers.

 

Note the type of ground, each one’s characteristics and what happens to the seed in each of them. Share about the kids of people/experienced you have met/had with each kind of person:

  1. Rock hard impenetrable people
  2. Shallow people who don’t seem to last through hard things in life. (NOTE: this is not rocky ground as in rocks on top of the ground but rock under a thin cover of soil)
  3. People overly worries and anxious about lots of things.
  4. People who receive God’s Word and do it over the long haul and reproduce themselves many time over.

 

Now reflect on what kind of ground you feel you are ow and what kind of ground you have been in the past.

 

If you could ask one thing from Jesus to make you that good soil that would receive his Word and work though you to produce other disciples, what would that thing be?

 

Did you notice that the farmer throws that seed around all over the place?! The left hand hardly knows what the right is doing it seems. The seed falls on all kinds of ground whether the ground 0wants it or not or receive it or not.

 

The message of the parable is that this is the way our Heavenly Father (the Sower) is with us. When we are hard and unreceptive, shallow and weak or fearful and disinterested, over-burdened with heaps of worries about all kinds of things that squeeze the life out of us and block out the word from our ears, or when we are open and deeply attentive to his Word, he still keeps on sowing that word! He calls us to adopt a similar indescriminent approach to relationships and bearing witness to his good news with people.

 

How does this comfort you?

 

How does this challenge you?

 

If there is one person who you have or want to throw the seed of the gospel to, pray for them, asking the Spirit to show you the way to speak and do the gospel word…..

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Farmers

SermonPentecost 6ASunday July 16, 2017, St Petri

 Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.’ 

18 ‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ 

Seems to be some pretty happy farmers around at the moment here in the Barossa. Rain has fallen. Seed is in the ground. Green feed growing. Smiles all around!   

There are some very happy people around Jesus too. Disease healed. Mental illness and evil oppression within gone. New life and freedom for some families and individuals. And all by just his words! His words. Oh, they are like honey dripping from the hive! Sweet and alive.  

But not everyone is tasting the honey. They are judging his words as just sour sap.   

Jesus hears about the plans the ruling elite have to get rid of him and he responds. He responds not by holding a protest march or even gathering arms and people to use them to protect himself. He responds by teaching them who he is, who God really is  

The crowds gathering around him are so hugeJesus is in a boat moored just off the sandy shore of the lake. Good plan. Sound skips across the water clear and true for a long way. This is a PA system without any cables!  

And so, the Teacher who knows boats and fishing, now shows he also knows seeds and soil. He speaks of farming.   

This is the only parable of Jesus that has a full explanation for the listeners. It is easy to get the story.   

God, the farmer of life, sows his words into human hearts and some of those human beings hear the words and then sow those words into other people’s hearts.   

Not everyone hears. Some people hear but then stop hearing. Only a few hear and keep hearing and so, produce other hearers and doers of this new life in words.   

So, the obvious question Jesus raises here is, “how do I hear? And “what does he mean by hearing’?   

This hearing is not like hearing the news or hearing a good joke or a great story. The original word eisakouo used here is ‘understanding/hearing is ‘deep understanding and doing. Once you hear it you just do it. This is hearing that translates into living.   

This is hearing like you do in school when the teacher says, “This will be on the test”. This is hearing like when you are with your loved one at the last and they speak of what their will is for you as you keep living your life with their blessing.   

23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ 

This listening leads directly to doing. It is ‘obeying’ in the sense that the words have an immediate effect in how you go about living  

So, Jesus is after is a deep attentive listening in the heart that translateinto actually living/doingDeep listening (the good soil) will translate into fruitful doing.   

But, just because he speaks does not mean everyone lives in his words. I think we know this. Just think of the people you know who have heard Jesus’ words….  

Some of God’s word falls on the path. Like seagulls pinching your chips on the beach, so can it be that Satan can snatch that good gospel word away from a person giving that word no time to germinate. It is over before it began sometimes  

Then gospel words can be received by another with great joy. They experience the relief and the renewal of sins forgiven, regrets replaced and love experienced. But then stuff happens. The heat and stress is too much. Again, there has not been enough time or space for the words to be heard deeply. The gospel stays at surface level. This is the rocky ground of our hearts and theirs: No roots, no depth. God’s word getting burnt off by heat of life.  

And then there is the word strangled out of the human heart like toothpaste out of the tube as the heart gets overwhelmed, overtaken and overly fixated on issues, choices, worry, self-concerns or concern for others with little reference to or real trust in Jesus’ words. These are the thorns, overcoming and eventually choking the good seed planted in God’s good ground  

But occasionally, it works well. There is good soil, which according to Jesus is a hearing heart; soft, open, tilled, receptive of the seed where the deep things of his grace and calling can and do take root and grow deeper and longer.   

23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ 

This is the deep listening that leads to understanding and doing. It is long lasting. This is the Divine word being heard and then done or “heeded”, or “obeyed”.   

Even better for us get to participate with this farmer. We are called to sow his Words like he does. So, this word becomes self-sowing and multiplying. Indeed, the fruitfulness can be massive – “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”.  

So, I ask myself and you: how is the soil at the moment? How is the quality and amount of hearing – deeply hearing Jesus?  

I actually suspect we are listening more deeply that we have for ages. That is what I am hearing from many of you.   

But you may know that you are a hard, compacted patha wayward searching heart where there are brief moments of true joy in the gospel that soon give way to chasing a better deal, a better thing, a high experience, a new thing to “keep me going” in all my issues and troubles….. Oyou may know that there are just too many thorns; too many weeds squashing the life out of your heart like that toothpaste out of the tube at the moment  

But, do you notice that this farmer sows anyway?   

Jesus just keeps throwing out that seed no matter where it falls – path, rock, thorns, good ground. He just keeps casting out that seed. Not a very efficient way to farm!  

Friend, Jesus is still sowing his words in you. He is as we speak.   

Thank God he is He is wastefulindiscriminate and irresponsible farmer  

His Word does its work on you. His law is a hammer. That hard path can be jack-hammered into a more receptive place for the gospel to find some good open soil to grow in you.   

The Evil One does not have to get a look in. By attentive receiving his love for you, that seagull Satan, can be warded off and yummy chips happily consumed can continue!  

He is deep. He calls, “Deep unto deep”. He calls you who may be in a rocky place to go deeperIn this disrupted time, I am sure the Spirit is calling you to search deeper prayers, deeper songs, some old some new, alone and with others.   

As for the weeds and thorns – the issues and the worry? His seed will take root and because it is His words, his power, his transforming voice, you are able to outgrow the weeds and thorns. We don’t have to pull the thorns out. By attentiveness in the heart to his words and ways we outgrow them, overcome them, steer clear of them. Like excellent fertilizer, Hgets to the roots and reignites us and inspires beyond the thorns.  

And, as a young apprentice tiler lays the tiles like his boss showed him; a young farmer farms the place the way Mum and Dad taught him or her; you fish like your dad or uncle of grandpa taught you to fishso for us. We ‘farm’ like Jesus – sowing indiscriminately on all the kinds of ground we find here in our community.   

We just sow. We just love. In the freedom of his love despite the worries and the misplaced goals and the hard -heartedness, we just go everywhere with the words of the Sower.  

What happy farmers we are!  

Amen 

  

 

It does what he says

Sermon4soils
Pentecost 5A, Sunday July 13, 2014
St Petri

It does what he says.

How God changes everything.

Isaiah 55:10-13
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

As I watched the rain fall and fall this week I could not help but hear Isaiah’s words likening God’s Word to rain falling.

The rain just falls and the water just goes where it needs to go – whether you want to go into that place and flood things or not! So, God’s Word is unstoppable and has a “mind of its own”, like the rain.

The rain also comes down from above and when it chooses. The rain decides when it rains down on us. So, God’s word that comes from only his mouth and “from above”, comes to us in the quantity and areas he determines – sometimes a little in a dry time and sometimes a lot, in a time like this week.

And the rain accomplishes the purpose it comes to accomplish. It sinks into the ground deep. Come spring time the grass, the vines, the trees, the flowers will be flourishing, and it won’t be because of our tending and care, although that is what is required of us by him, it will all happen because he makes it happen for us as a gift.

That is the goal of God in raining down his Word into our ears and hearts – to make us flourish in joy and peace – to change us from tired and scratchy old brambles to beautiful flourishing plants, flexible, able to move and grow and bear good fruit ….

12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

It is a beautiful image of the Lord and his intentions for his world. It helps me trust that the Lord is unstoppable in his intention to bring this world peace and joy and newness so that we flourish.

Then I hear Jesus, the Living Word of God with us.

As he speaks and lives and dies and rises, his intentions are the same they have always been – to be a stream of living water for our thirsty souls.

While sitting in a boat just off shore of the lake and thousands strain their ears to listen to the rain the Living Word calls you to ponder now what ground is your mind, body and spirit.

4 ….some (seed) fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Concrete path – impenetrable by the Word. Peace cannot get in. Joy is shut out. Dry times inside. What is given is quickly taken away and you are missing out of the life you really need.

5 Some fell on rocky places,….. and they withered because they had no root.

Some open and soft ground letting some of his Word into your soul and mind but still some hard heartedness.

You are receiving some of God’s good gifts of peace and new life but the gifts are never allowed to get down to your very fabric in how you actually make decisions, conduct yourself in relationships, invite God’s wisdom and his forgiveness into your very soul. So, things sprout from time to time but the fad never lasts.

7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants

Then there are the thorns among whom you live – voices striving for your time, idols calling you to bow down and sacrifice yourself to them in the hope that they can deliver what you think you need.

The voices are drowning out the Living Voice – the Viva Vox Dei – the Living Voice of God, and it is not because his Word is not falling, it is because you are finding shelter in other voices and values and victories you make.

8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

And then there is the good soil – open, listening, aware, eager to receive the mind of Christ on everything……. In you he grows the fruit of peace in relationships, joy in the soul, an awareness of God as the one from whom all blessing flow and to whom all praise is due.

You know that all of this comes “from above”, from His mouth as he will and you are grateful for every word that and every gift his Word brings into your life.

9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Yes, hear this….

The farmer and the one who sends the rain are indiscriminate in their gift giving.

The rain comes down on the just and the unjust and the seed falls on all kinds of hearts – impenetrable, proud, idolatrous, open, fertile…..

And the Word does what it says anyway – just like the rain goes where it goes and brings what it brings – despite the state of the ground, despite the state of our hearts today.

And that my friends in Christ, is the great gift of gathering together here in worship.

Worship is the place where the indiscriminate Saviour scatters his life-giving Word in his life-giving gifts on the weeds and the wheat, the just and the unjust, the poor and the rich, the fertile ground and the baron ground – unstoppable, indiscriminate, gracious, relentless in love and completely desiring our joy, our new life, our new hope, our flourishing.

What we do and say here is not some life-less, spiritless religious habit, but the ancient Word – the modern means of the Living Word’s rain for the soul and peace for our families, our friendships, our work and our town.

In this big boat called the nave;
• When the word says, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, you are in the name and presence of the Father, Son ad Holy Spirit.
• When the word says “I forgive you”, you are forgiven.
• When the raining word says, “the body and blood for forgiveness, life and salvation, you have forgiveness, life and salvation in that eating and drinking.
• When the Word says “The Lord bless you and keep you”, you are blessed and kept!

Worship is the indiscriminate grace of the Living Word raining on you and the rain has is falling to bring gifts of peace, joy and changed life to you today….

In the name of Christ
Amen

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Read the Isaiah 55 text out loud slowly. Consider the imagery the prophet uses of rain for how God’s word works in our lives. Share your thoughts on this beautiful imagery and what the prophet is saying about the power and the use of God’s word for us as Christians.

When you hear God say that his Word always achieves the purpose for which it is sent, what do you think about that?

What in your estimation is God’s desired outcome of sending his Word like the rain. Can you see his intentions in those verses 10-13? Share what you find….

Read the first 9 verses Matthew text slowly working through the various characters in the parable and what they are doing. Who is God and who is the sower and what is the seed in your estimation? In verses 18-23, actually tells us all of this. This is most unusual. usually he leaves the parables unexplained so that we have to really ponder what they mean. Why do you think he explained this parable so much? (No right or wrong answers on this question – there is no great consensus on it).

Ponder the soil and yourself and what kind of soil you would describe yourself as at the moment.

4 ….some (seed) fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Concrete path – impenetrable by the Word.

5 Some fell on rocky places,….. and they withered because they had no root.

Some (but not all) open and soft ground.

7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants

The thorns among whom you live

8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

The good soil

9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

What are you hearing for yourself in this Word from Jesus? Share what you are hearing.

PRAY:

Heavenly Father, we live in your presence and are baptised into your name. You continualy forgive us our hard heartedness and lack of responsiveness to your Word. You give us your holy body and blood to eat and drink for forgiveness, new life and salvation from death. You bless us with your mighty power and grace and we live in your blessing everyday. Help us receive all these seeds of your love and compassion and bear good fruit today. Amen