Sunday, July 26, 2020

8th Sunday after Pentecost

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

Opening Prayer

Holy One, we come before you
     with sighs too deep for words.

We come with hearts overwhelmed—
     by the world, by personal relationships,
          and by inward struggles.

We come to praise your name
     and to be reassured of your unending grace.
In this time and place,
     open our hearts to your presence.

Open our ears to hear your word proclaimed.

Open our hands to serve you and the world.

May our lives reflect Christ,
     who walks with us and gives us life.
In the name of Christ, we pray.


let us begin today’s worship

L:        Praise the Lord!
P:        We gather to sing praises to God.
L:        Praise the Lord!
P:        We gather to give thanks
for all God has done in our lives.
L:        Praise the Lord!
P:        We gather to worship our creator, redeemer,
and sustainer.

We Love your Realm, O God #312 vs 1-5

(All candles lit.)

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52(NRSV)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it 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.”

The Parable of the Yeast
33 He 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.”

Three Parables
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; 46 on 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; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Treasures New and Old
51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And 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.”

The word of God for the people of God!

Sermon     The Kindom of Heaven is Like…        

And 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.”

Hmm what is a scribe?

According to Miriam-Webster; “Definition of scribe
 (Entry 1 of 5)
1: a member of a learned class in ancient Israel through New Testament times studying the Scriptures and serving as copyists, editors, teachers, and jurists”[1]

Hey I guess by definition those of us who read the Gospel and mine it for messages of relevance may be considered scribes.. . I do copy the text, I do teach the text, I sometimes will rephrase a text (edit)… Definitely a Jurist as I apply things I have studied and learned to the readings…

So then we are commanded, as scribes trained for the kin-dom of heaven to take this treasure that is the Gospel and bring out what is old and what is new…

I do not believe I had noticed that challenge before and yet it is what I often seek to do…

The Kin-dom of heaven is like a mustard seed…I remember in the 70’s it was popular to have an amulet, clear, with a tiny mustard seed in it. I am not sure we had any true concept of the power of a mustard seed. If you recall I have used the image of the mustard seed quite literally.  It shows how, if it is allowed too, a mustard seed can become a great bush and definitely becomes a haven for birds as well as other wildlife.

So the kin-dom of heaven planted again by the master sower, Jesus, starts small, a few disciples and a few apostles. “While a disciple is a student, one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is sent to deliver those teachings to others. "Apostle" means messenger, he who is sent. An apostle is sent to deliver or spread those teachings to others. ... We can say that all apostles were disciples but all disciples are not apostles.”[2] In case you have ever wondered about the difference.

 So a small ragtag group of fishermen and some groupies, quickly flourish into many communities and eventually into us here today.  So That parable works. Not only does a mustard bush provide comfort and shelter to any who choose it, the seed, the bush’s produce can add flavor, spice to everyday life.

The Kin-dom of Heaven is like yeast mixed in with flour…MMM makes me think of sour dough.  Sour doughs magic is that it depends upon natural yeast. “These yeasts thrive naturally on the surface of grains, fruits, vegetables, and even in the air and soil. The exact strains of yeast and bacteria will vary depending on the origins of the starter.”[3]

So how is the kindom of heaven like a person who adds yeast to flour?

“The Yeast parable is misnamed. Today, yeast comes in those tidy little packets. What Jesus is talking about is leaven which is a rotting, molding lump of bread. It usually is a negative symbol of corruption. (Matthew 16:6; 1 Corinthians 5:8) It is a "woman" who takes this leaven and "hides" (not "mixes" -- cf. below) it in the flour. Given the cultural perspectives of Jesus' day, all these details make it sound like something potentially sinister and furtive is going on. The only thing more astounding in this parable is that the woman uses "three measures" of wheat, enough to make bread to feed more than 100 people. Another example of a little can make a lot? Yes, but it also indicates that the dominion of God may take hold in hidden and unexpected ways.”[4]

I like to view this as the way we choose to live. How we live as a small community affects and changes the community around us. Example, our community meals which we miss so much.

Just by having a simple meal and sitting with our neighbors around tables can lead to people understanding and internalizing what it means to be Christian. Without preaching a word.  Same thing with the food pantry. People see the service we provide as part of our mission and they want to know more about us. As a matter of fact, some one inquired just this past week.

The same goes for the rainbow flag.  Just by hanging it outside our buildings people know, whether they need it or not, ours is a safe place and a resource for those seeking blessings, understanding, or compassion related to being a member of the lgbtqiaa community. They know if they are feeling lost or in need of support they can call on us as a safe and loving community.

Just working beside someone who knows that one is a member of this congregation, without ever saying anything, can be and is a ministry. We are part of the kin-dom of God here on earth and by living into that, just by living into that, we are touching and changing people weather we realize it or not. We are the leaven in the flour.

The next parable, the kin-dom is like a treasure hidden in a field, that has been found and hidden again and then a person sells everything they own just so they can have the field and the treasure hidden within it. Or like a pearl of great value that one sells all they have to own…

“Our two parables are expressions of the conviction that meaning resides principally in God and in the world to come, and they encourage us to understand everything else in their light. This is consistent with what we find throughout the gospels, wherein Jesus views earth from the vantage point of heaven and interprets the present by projecting himself into the future and then looking back. The world's chief values are not intrinsic but extrinsic; they reside in the God who is above the world and within the world and waiting at its end…

Everyday life is ruled by custom, habit, and routine, and these can all-too-readily cultivate a God-obscuring stasis. Unless one realizes that things are not what they seem to be and that they will not be as they are forever--as the leaven and the mustard seed reveal--one will miss what matters most--the pearl, the treasure--and substitute a god of lesser value and meaning. People can gain the whole superficial world and yet lose their own souls.

Because he believes that one cannot serve God and mammon, or God and anything else for that matter, Jesus proclaims the one thing needful. His teachings consistently reveal that the heavenly trumps the earthly, that the future will trump the present, and that we are surrounded by empty and dangerous distractions. To choose the pearl of great price or to dig up the treasure hidden in a field is to obey Jesus' imperative not to "store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). Jesus urges us to cast aside all but the single-minded pursuit of what should be our ultimate concern.”[5]

In this time of Coviid and safe distancing and nothing to do but allow the tv to feed us their perspective of a world that is crumbling all around us we can get lost.  We can get lost in the here and now and lose sight of the Kin-dom of heaven which we are working to make here and now.

“I know what you will think when you see today's headlines in the news: more conflict, more confusion, more corona. I know you will not be surprised and I know you will find a way to cope with these realities just as you have been doing for so many weeks now. But before you do it again, let me share another headline you may have missed on the news feed. I think it is important for you to know so here it is: “Somewhere Someone Has Fallen In Love Today.” That's it and if you ask me it is pretty earth-shaking. Even in the midst of all the chaos, two human hearts can find one another, cling to one another, heal one another, and find a depth of joy that no words can ever adequately describe. Love goes on. Love endures. Love sustains us and renews us if we will only let it do what it does best. And that is good news to hear on a day like this.”- Bishop Steven Charleston[6]

There it is, that’s the pearl, that’s the treasure…Love.  Love is the Kin-dom of God. Love is heaven on earth. Somedays we cannot see it for the here and now, other days it is all we seek because of the here and now, and everyday it is what we can express in the here and now.

Finally the kin-dom of heaven is like a net full of fish…that is drawn on shore and sorted…professor Jenifer Kaalund from Iona College says “The net “caught fish of every kind, when it was full they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad” (Matthew 13:47-48). As in the parable of the weeds, Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as diverse and inclusive. Again, the angels come to “separate the evil from the righteous” (13:49). However, the net contained various kinds of fish. Just as the fish exist together in the sea, we also must live together, exist peaceably, and leave the judgment to God.”[7]

So like last week’s parable we are not to judge but leave that up to the angels of God in the end days…but I also hear something else here.  Have you ever been fishing? Often time the sorting is done right on deck.  You keep what is legal size, you keep your limit and everything else is tossed back to continue to grow.

For those who believe in reincarnation that is an easy concept.

For those who struggle with why some die young and others don’t…maybe this is a comforting concept.

I like the concept in the chronicles of Narnia, in the final battle when the children cross over there are levels of Aslan’s kin-dom.  They keep going further up and further in.

“Lucy looked hard at the garden and saw that it was not really a garden at all but a whole world, with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains but they were not strange: she knew them all.
‘I see,’ she said. ‘This is still Narnia, and more real and more beautiful than the Narnia down below, just as it was more real and more beautiful than the Narnia outside the stable door! I see… world with in world, Narnia within Narnia…”[8]

The point is, through the many parables of Jesus and those attributed to him we learn what the kin-dom of heaven is like.  It is something to be treasured and to be sought and nurtured.  It is something that can grow even covertly without much effort like leavening. It provides a home and shelter for all living things. And it is made up all of a wide variety.

And when the kin-dom comes. No one will know what it is exactly, till we see it. And when it comes to judging others by what we believe the kin-dom to be, we shouldn’t! It is not in our hands.

For those who hear the ancient concept of hell in the parables. I understand its there. But I also hear this; The angels of God or God itself will sift out that which is evil. Sift out that which prohibits us from entering into the kin-dom, or working towards the kin-dom here on earth as it is in heaven.

I choose to believe that this is a sifting out of things not people.  If all are created in the image of God. If we are all children of the kin-dom then evil is something external to our spirit which can be sifted out allowing us to become whole and holy before God. How that works …not my Job but, my faith is in an all loving God, a God that is pure love, and all that is not love, is not possible in its presence.

Until that day, let us continue to work to bring the kin-dom of heaven here on earth. Let us continue to offer shelter and safe space. Let us continue to offer hospitality and love. Until then, let us be leavening and/or the river against the stone.

Until then, let us remember that someone fell in love today…and that we live in the presence of love every day…Amen.

A call to prayer

This is a unique time in our service. I say unique because it is different every Sunday. Often times we focus on needs, pain, healings we seek for those we care about and those in the world around us. We are also invited to share our praise for the simple to the miraculous we give prayers of thanks.

What are your needs today, who is in need of prayer, feel free to share that in the comment section.
What are you grateful for today, we are all in need of gratefulness feel free to share what you are grateful for in the comment section.

Seek ye First #56 blue hymnal

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Invitation to the Offering

Christ reminds us that our treasures, our gifts from God,
are most beneficial when they are used for the kingdom of God.
May this be the time when we bring forth our gifts to be blessed by God.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator Christ, and Spirit, one.

Offering Prayer

Almighty God, there are treasures all around us—
     family, friends, your abiding presence,
          and the love of Christ Jesus.
Bless these gifts we return to you now.
Bless them,
     that others might come to know
          the true treasures of your love and grace.
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry

I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in

Enter in the Realm of God #615

Benediction/sending forth
Go forth knowing that you are part of God’s family.
Go forth proclaiming the praises of God.
Go forth in the assurance that Christ is always with us.
Go forth to bring the kingdom of God wherever you are.

Just a note Bible study is on summer leave…

Next Sunday, Aug. 2nd, is Communion Sunday; set a sacred space aside with bread and juice, or cracker and water, whatever you have on hand to make the ritual meaning full

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