Second Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 254

2nd Sunday after Trinity

10.00am Holy Communion – CW

14th June 2015

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A drought threatened the livelihood and crops of a small farming community

 

And on one hot and dry Sunday morning – the local minister got up and preached from his pulpit – “There’s nothing else for it – he said – but to go home and pray for rain”.  “Go home, pray, believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for sending rain.” The people did as they were asked and returned to church the following Sunday. But as soon as the vicar saw them, he was furious. “What’s this – we can’t worship today – he said You do not yet believe!” We do they protested, “we prayed, and we do believe.”

 

“Then where are your umbrellas?” Our gospel reading this morning speaks of the kind of faith and trust in God that this vicar is asking – Umbrella faith.

 

Faith in things we cannot see or touch – or understand – faith that God’s promises will be fulfilled

 

First Point  Parables on the Kingdom

 

In our Gospel reading – Jesus is teaching on the coming of the Kingdom – and how that kingdom will grow

 

He tells a parable – about a farmer and his seeds

 

Sowing the seeds is the farmer’s job –

 

And when he has completed it – he goes to bed – gets up – goes to bed – gets up – night and day – in other words – he carries on with his usual daily duties – leaving the seed to grow in the soil  – not worrying about or knowing what the seed is doing

 

The seed too – follows its daily and seasonal life cycle – sleeping in the soil until it’s time for it to get up – to resurrect new life from the ground

 

The seed grows unobserved in the earth –  until out comes the stalk  – then the ear of corn and then the swelling of the corn – inside the ear –  and after this it’s time to harvest –

 

In this parable Jesus is announcing how God’s Kingdom is coming into the world –

 

The seeds of God’s kingdom are being spread through Jesus’ ministry in Galilee – who is planting God’s word into those He meets and touches –

 

It’s not the kingdom–of-God movement that the people were expecting – not the high profile entry that many thought the Messiah would make – but it’s the way that God has chosen –

 

And having planted the seed – Jesus moves on to the next person – leaving the seed to germinate – like the Farmer – going about his kingdom business –

 

Jesus’ time in Galilee is God’s seeding time from which His long promised and long awaited harvest will come – the people in Jesus’ time will not be able to see how God’s promised plant will grow from this seed  –  but grow it will – and the harvest will come –

 

And when the harvest is ready – the sickle will move in – and the crop will be collected –

 

Here Jesus is reminding them of the coming day of the Lord – when judgement will be served – not only on Jewish oppressors and the surrounding nations – but on Israel too –

 

God’s judgement will be on all people  – only those who have grown up and produced fruit from the seed that Jesus has planted – will be harvested

 

The story is also a warning – against looking down on small beginnings – or expecting quick answers – The people were expecting the Messiah – and God’s kingdom – to make a big entrance – to make a big initial difference –

 

But Jesus tells us that the Kingdom will grow in secret and from humble beginnings –

 

two or three people meeting together to pray and plan and read the scriptures – can herald the start of a new initiative – a new beginning that God has in mind –

 

Small beginnings – are the theme of His second parable – too –

 

Jesus uses an analogy with the mustard seed – which is the tiniest of seeds – but which can grow and produce a plant several feet high –

 

Jesus’ parable refers not only to the size of the Kingdom in terms of numbers – but also of the size of the kingdom within each one of us –

 

The Kingdom – like the mustard seed – will grow large enough for people to shelter within it –

 

The mustard seed is a small start – but in the end grows into a large shrub – Jesus’ sowing is a small start – but in the end will produce a vast harvest –

 

Point 2

 

In our OT reading Ezekiel – gives us another picture – of God planting and growing His Kingdom – this time representing Israel as a cedar tree –

 

Ezekiel lived in one of the most tragic periods of Israel’s existence – the people had been tempting fate for generations – ignoring God’s messengers –  prophets such as Micah, Amos, Isaiah, who warned that if they didn’t listen they would be destroyed –

 

Eventually the Babylonian’s swept through Judah and took large groups of citizens with them – Ezekiel being one of them – His voice blended in stereo with Jeremiah who was still in Jerusalem –

 

The Babylonian’s –took Judah’s leader Joachim and installed a new head Zedekiah over Jerusalem – although they were both descendants of David neither – of them were – chips off the old block –

 

Through this parable – Ezekiel tells the people that God Himself will pick a new leader – a new king  – He will take a sprig from the tree of David – breaking off a tender shoot and planting it firmly on top of a high mountain –

 

He will bring new growth and life to His people  – it is foretelling of the coming of Jesus – who will make high the low tree – and make the dry tree flourish

 

From such beginnings God’s kingdom will grow and offer shade to the world –

 

The birds in the branches represent – a great kingdom that – gives protection to its subjects.  People of every kind will become part of it –

 

Ezekiel is telling Israel to focus on the future – on God’s promises – on something they cannot yet see – Because through God’s actions they have the assurance of things hoped for and of promises fulfilled –

 

Point 3        So what does it mean for us today?

 

Jesus’ parables remind us – that like the farmer and Jesus – we too must sow the seeds of the kingdom – If the seeds are not sown – the kingdom will not grow –

 

we are not to stop – not to give up – the seeds we sow are for the kingdom’s future – and may not be seen in our present –

Once planted Jesus tells us – we are to carry on living our day to day lives – leaving the seed to germinate in secret – leaving room for God to work – and to allow the Holy Spirit to bring new life – from the seeds we have planted –

 

In our Gospel passage – we see Jesus both spreading the message of the kingdom and teaching how it grows –

 

We too need to be kingdom explainers – as well as kingdom workers – telling others what we know – about God – and how He is changing the world – and has changed our lives –

 

Growth can sometimes seem slow or none existent   but when we sow we should trust that God is at work – and that there will be a harvest –

 

We also have the assurance through Ezekiel’s vision that God will take a believer and plant him or her in a location of God’s choosing – so that that believer will become a blessing to the people who are there.

 

We should therefore encourage new people to come and share and be part of our church – part of God’s ministry here at St Mary’s – God has a plan – a future for His Kingdom here in Lymm – and all beginnings no matter how small are to be encouraged – since they could become something mighty – in God’s hands.

 

Conclusion

 

To the early church which was facing a lot of opposition and setbacks – like the church today – these parables are an encouragement – to sow the seed and trust in God –

 

The parable of the growing seed reminds us that when we sow we must trust and hope in the power of the seed – just as the smallest mustard seed can become a great shrub – so God can mightily use the tiniest acts of faithful loving service – to advance His kingdom –

 

The real challenge of these parables – is about what we should do – in response to them – and in response to the love God shows to us –

 

What better expression of our love can we make therefore than fulfill the commandment Jesus gave us – and to show God’s heavenly love to all – in prayer, faith and trust that God will do the rest.

 

Prayer to Finish

AMEN