St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-17-2018

St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-17-2018

Look Out, Here it Comes!

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, Psalm 20, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17,

Mark 4:26-34

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

I find that, as a preacher of the Good News, I am often stretched between a desire to deliver an uplifting, make you feel good, sermon and addressing the issues of the not-so feel good world around us. It’s a hard balance to find. Yes, we should feel good, be joyful, celebrate life in the love of God and Christ! But, if we are true followers of Christ, we cannot blind ourselves to the suffering around us and can certainly not be a part of the cause of anyone’s misery.

This past week, in preparing today’s message, was particularly challenging for me. I saw so many life-oppressing things happening in our world that really need to have the light of Christ shown on them; that need our attention; that need us to do something about. Not the least of which done with false Biblical justification.

 But, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately so I also wanted to lighten-up for a change; give you a refreshing message in exchange for one about our need to do the work of God and Christ. I was thinking that it was time for us to take a break from our labor and have a little R&R.

Well… it’s happened before and it’s happened again! The Spirit has given me just what we needed in the Gospel reading for today.

I don’t know if it’s the same for you as it is for me, but having been brought up from childhood in the teaching that promotes very serious, often somber reading of the Bible, I hadn’t learned to see the humor that can be found in it. I do remember a time when I was very young, hearing the story of Jonah and the great fish for the first time and being admonished because I laughed. “This is God’s word, we don’t laugh at the Bible” I think was what I heard.

Anyway, with that perspective of reading the Bible with all seriousness, I find myself missing other humorous writings in Scripture, including those in today’s Reading from Mark.

It is two parables that, thankfully, aren’t separated from one another by the division of the lectionary because the first is the setup for the second.

First Jesus talks about how a farmer sows seed and then goes about his life. Bu the nature of God’s creation the seed sprouts, grows, and bares fruit. The farmer does nothing until it’s time for harvest.

Under the lens of somber reading we might only think of this as a parable about the judgment day when God reaps his harvest. But imagine, if you will, being there in that moment; in that time before the true identity of Christ was revealed. You’ve journeyed some distance to listen to this wandering preacher that everybody is talking about; you’re standing at the edge of the sea among a crowd of hundreds, perhaps thousands, ready to hang on to every word he says as he speaks from a boat in the water; and what do you hear… nothing but a story about planting and growing grain.

This is nothing newsworthy; everybody knows how it works. Dah!

Then, then he starts talking about mustard seeds. Now this is the part that we really miss the point of due to our place and time. You see, this mustard plant grew wild in the ancient middle-east It had a number of medicinal uses but otherwise it was a nuisance.

A better understanding would be if we thought of it as thistle; still a tiny seed, but get just one of them sprouting in your flower garden and before you know it, they’re everywhere, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of, and they’re choking out the beauty you worked so hard to create.

So, again, you’re huddled in this crowd listening to this… ah… wonder preacher, and he’s likening the coming kingdom of God… to a weed! What! If he wanted to give us visions of grandeur why wouldn’t he talk about sycamores, they’re big, and beautiful, and give us shade from the heat of the day! This Jesus fellow seems to have a really distorted view of the world and of God’s kingdom.


Yes, these are funny stories! Yet, along with the humor, Jesus is conveying a serious message. He is telling us that he has planted the seed that, with or without our attention, will grow in the world, slowly, subtly, until it bears fruit that will provide nourishment for our souls! He has planted the seed that, though some would rather it not be there and will put great effort into destroying it, will not succumb to their attempts, but will reproduce, taking over the world inch by inch. And he is telling us that our perception of what is beautiful and worthy of our efforts to cultivate will be overgrown by what God knows is truly beautiful; a world in which everyone is fed to fullness, and where even the least of us, can happily find shade, and shelter from the cats that would prey on us.

Keep your eyes open. And keep your mind open! God’s coming kingdom may not be what we envision, but it will come, and it will be glorious!



1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13
15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul.
15:35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.
16:1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
16:2 Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
16:3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.”
16:4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”
16:5 He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
16:6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the LORD.”
16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
16:8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
16:9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
16:10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.”
16:11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”
16:12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”
16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Psalm 20
20:1 The LORD answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
20:2 May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.
20:3 May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah
20:4 May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.
20:5 May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
20:6 Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand.
20:7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.
20:8 They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.
20:9 Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.


2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17
5:6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord —
5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
5:8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
5:10 For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.
5:12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart.
5:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
5:14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.
5:15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Mark 4:26-34
4:26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,
4:27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.
4:28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.
4:29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
4:30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?
4:31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
4:32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
4:33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it;
4:34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.