St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-16-2017

St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-16-2017

Seed Generously

Genesis 25:19-34, Psalm 119:105-112, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

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

I began to follow the Lectionary Readings for my sermons almost as soon as I started preaching. I’m sure I’ve mentioned a few times before that one of the reasons for doing so was to keep myself challenged; to keep myself from preaching only the easy stuff and force myself into the harder, deeper, more contentious parts of the Bible that are just as important, if not more so, as the soft, light, and fluffy parts.

Then I began to wonder what I would do after I’ve covered every one of the readings in the three-year cycle. Well, I thought, besides the Gospel verses each week has an Old Testament reading and an Epistle selection that rarely convey the same message as the Gospel so I can just work with those extending my repertoire to nine years without directly repeating anything! Then, then there are the Psalms! Now I’m up to twelve years!

This concern, however, entered my mind when I still subscribed to the thought that every Bible story had one true meaning and the preacher’s job was to find that one true meaning and deliver it to the congregation.

Since then, with lots of bible study, I’ve learned that there is more than one meaning to each story, or at least many facets, and so there are as many ways to look at any of the writings and many beams of understanding shining from it, just like rays of light shining through a finely cut jewel. Today’s Gospel reading is no exception.

Just to quickly recap, the last time I preached on the same story we have today, I focused on the growing grain and the miraculous yield it produced; of sowing as a metaphor for teaching; and yield as a metaphor for acting on what has been learned; particularly the learners becoming sowers / teachers themselves. For that sermon, that was the facet I focused on and the light I saw shining from it.

But, in preparing for today’s sermon I looked at our jewel from another angle and noticed a new facet reflecting a different light; this one not being the seed, the place it lands on the earth, nor the yield it produces. Rather, this new angle was looking at the sower himself.

Now, any gardener, and certainly any farmer, knows that there is an up-front expense to growing a crop. Whether reserved from last year’s harvest, diminishing the amount sold and accordingly the year’s prophet, or bought with cash for this year’s planting, seed is costly. Therefore, any grower looking to maximize yield and prophet, would be careful to plant his seed in a well prepared field where it’s sure to grow as long as God, by his grace, provides the required amount of rain and sunshine.

But, take a look at the sower in today’s reading. Jesus tells us that “as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path… Other seeds fell on rocky ground… Other seeds fell among thorns… Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty”.

Soo, what are we to think of this sower? Is he drunk? Is he blind? Is he careless? Or is he simply a fool for throwing precious seed on the path, rocks, and among thorns instead of being certain that all of it fell on good soil?

Or, we could give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that, perhaps, his time was precious also. Maybe he had a lot of field, or fields, to get planted. And, maybe, he saw storm clouds coming and wanted to get all the planting done so all his fields would have the seeds quickly watered in giving them a head start on the growing season and, therefore, exchanged frugality for expediency.

Hmm, now we might be onto something, especially as we’re talking about the sower being the metaphorical character of Jesus teaching the “word of the Kingdom” (13:19) among the people. Jesus is no drunkard, he’s surely not blind, no way is he careless, and, although many of his contemporaries thought he was, he is not a fool.

Think about this: Jesus has been out and about preaching to crowds of ever increasing size. He has spoken of the need for hurry saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. (4:17) He has previously sent his disciples out to preach instructing them to “shake off the dust from [their] feet as [they] leave that house or town if anyone will not welcome [them] or listen to [their] words”. (10:14) And in many cases, there are the scribes, Pharisees, and other naysayers within the crowds who will not hear what he is trying to teach. Now, as he tells this parable, the crowd is so great that he is sitting in a boat as they listen from the shore.

Jesus knows his time is precious; he has large fields that need to be seeded and he sees the approaching storm cloud of the kingdom of heaven! He needs to get his word spread quickly and isn’t spending the time to make sure it all lands on fertile soil; he’s spreading it everywhere generously; he knows that some of it will not survive and yield; but he also knows that what does take root and yield, by the mighty power of God, will bring forth a miraculous harvest of 30, 60, even 100 times.

Now apply this to us; us as individuals and us as a congregation. Do we focus on the cost of sowing the fields before us and spread the word conservatively; trying to only land it on the places we are confident that it will take root and grow and yield? Do we speak about the love of God and Christ only to people we are comfortable with and have hope in their hearing? Do we hesitate while deciding who disserves our precious resources of time, energy, and money spent in spreading the word? Do we rely on ourselves, only on our calculations, to assure maximum return on our investments?

As you answer these questions thinking of yourself as an individual and thinking of St. Matthew’s as a congregation, also ask “is this the way it’s supposed to be; is this the example Christ gave to his Disciples and to us”?

Or does Christ, by his example, challenge us to ignore the cost of sowing the fields before us and spread the word liberally regardless of the quality of the soil on which it lands? Do we speak about the love of God and Christ to everyone knowing that some will take root and some will not? Do we hurry to get the word out knowing that concerns for reserving time, energy, and money will only delay the completion of our work? Do we rely on God to assure maximum return on our investments?

Look around us; there are many fields to be planted, much seed to be sown, and time is running out. Let’s get the job done!



Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
13:2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.
13:3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.
13:4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.
13:5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.
13:6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.
13:7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
13:8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
13:9 Let anyone with ears listen!”
13:18 “Hear then the parable of the sower.
13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.
13:20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
13:21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.
13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.
13:23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”


Genesis 25:19-34
25:19 These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac,
25:20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean.
25:21 Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.
25:22 The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.
25:23 And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.”
25:24 When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.
25:25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau.
25:26 Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
25:27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents.
25:28 Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
25:29 Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished.
25:30 Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.)
25:31 Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”
25:32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”
25:33 Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.


Psalm 119:105-112
119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
119:106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe your righteous ordinances.
119:107 I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word.
119:108 Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your ordinances.
119:109 I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law.
119:110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.
119:111 Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
119:112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.


Romans 8:1-11
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
8:4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
8:7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law–indeed it cannot,
8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
8:9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
8:10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.