Sunday 26/7/20

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A Sermon for the Seventh Sunday After Trinity
Matthew 13: 31 – 323, 44 – 52

 

“… Thy Kingdom come….”  Familiar words often.  What are we praying for?  What is the Kingdom of God?  Don’t worry if you find those difficult questions to answer.  Even Jesus found it easier to use pictures and parables to talk about the Kingdom of God than to deliver straight teaching about it.

The Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible translation calls Matthew Chapter 13 ‘A sermon of parables’.  John Pridmore describes as a ‘picture gallery’.  It is part of the third block of teaching in Matthew’s Gospel.  The first was the Sermon on the Mount; the second is about Jesus’ mission and ministry.  This section is about the the Kingdom of God.  Which brings us back to the question ‘What is the Kingdom of God?’

So what have we discovered so far in this picture gallery which makes up a ‘sermon of parables’?  The Parable of the Sower tells us the Kingdom of God comes slowly when it grows in good soil.  The rather more challenging Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.  Today we have a series of short parables; we might think of them as art miniatures.

A tiny seed growing into a strong tree; a woman mixing yeast to leaven the flour; treasure in the field; a pearl of great value; an indiscriminate drag net dragging up bad fish as well as good ones.  So what is the ‘Kingdom of God’ according to these pictures?

Jesus gives us no helping hand with a handy explanation of these parables.  In good biblical style, the last shall be first, the Parable of the Dragnet helping us to start where we left off the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds last week.  One parable telling us that separating good from evil cannot be done before the end of time, wasn’t enough.  In the Parable of the Dragnet, Jesus drives the point home again.  Reminding us, none too gently, that a judgement will take place at the end of time.  Judging evil from good is not our task, and the time is not now; it is the task of the angels at a time known only to Father God.

The four remaining parables are gentler explanations of the Kingdom of God, forming two pairs.  The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Yeast bring us back to the Parable of the Sower with the idea of tiny things growing slowly and unseen.  The tiny mustard seed being planted out of sight in the ground, growing slowly until it becomes a sizeable bush, large enough for birds to roost in, almost without anyone noticing. Something which is apparently possible if mustard is left to grow.  

The yeast too, is used in tiny quantities, growing and multiplying unseen, yet having a dramatic effect on a large amount of flour, enabling the flour to become light, risen bread.

To achieve their potential, the mustard seed and the yeast need the right conditions, just like the seed in the Parable of the Sower.  Given the right conditions, they will work slowly, producing big results.  These are parables of encouragement.  The Kingdom of God grows slowly and unseen.  We should not worry if we do not produce flamboyant, instant and dramatic results as we try to play our part in the Kingdom of God. Small, slow results do not mean we are weeds rather than wheat or bad fish rather than good to be judged worthless.  Fit only for the flames of destruction at the final judgement.

If we are growing in the good soil of God’s Word, allowing ourselves to be nurtured in prayer slow, well-grown results are better than fast won triumphs in the Kingdom of God.  Better to grow slowly than to be like the seed which fell on rocky ground, growing fast only to be destroyed quickly because it had no root.

 So we arrive at the final pair of miniatures in the picture gallery of the Sermon of Parables.  A picture of an ordinary field which proved to contain priceless treasure.  A pearl of great price, found by a skilled merchant after of searching through many less valuable pearls.

Prizes so valuable, they are worth giving up everything for.  That involves sacrificel; a willingness to risk giving up everything in order to gain something of very great value indeed.  But to count the cost is to miss the point.  Risking everything to buy a field containing priceless treasure or a costly pearl is not about sacrifice, it is gain.  

This is what the Kingdom of God is like.  It looks unobtrusive; just an ordinary field or a pearl among many, but it is far from ordinary.  It is treasure so priceless it is worth sacrificing everything for.  There is nothing more valuable than belonging to the Kingdom of God.

This is the Kingdom of God is like.  It grows slowly, unseen in the ordinary things of life.  And when it is found, it is utterly priceless. 

S Anne Lawson

23 July 2020


Prayers 

 

The Collect for the Seventh Sunday After Trinity

Generous God,

you give us gifts and make them grow:

though our faith is small as mustard-seed,

make it grow to your glory

and the flourishing of your Kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

The Post-Communion Prayer for the Seventh Sunday After Trinity

 

Lord God, whose Son is the true vine

and the source of life,

ever giving himself that the world may live:

may we so receive within ourselves

the power of his death and passion

that, in his saving cup, we may share his glory

and be made perfect in his love;

for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

 

May the Spirit pray through us

as we try to put into words the longings of our hearts

for the Church and for the world.

 

Father, we thank you

for all who have helped us to pray

and to grasp something of your great love and power.

We ask your blessing and empowering

on all of us as we minister in your name;

we ask for our Sunday worship to be an overflowing

of our daily walk with you,

an expression of our deepening love.

Lord of all creation:

teach us your ways.

 

Father, we thank you for the beauty and diversity

of the created world we inhabit.

We ask for the wisdom to tend It carefully,

respecting the natural laws and sharing the resources,

listening to the weak as well as the strident,

the poor as well as the affluent and powerful.

Lord of all creation:

teach us your ways.


Father, we thank you

for the candour and innocence of the very young,

and for the joy of friendship;

for all with whom we share our daily life,

and those we love but seldom meet.

We ask for hearts that are skilled in listening,

so that we discern and respond to the real agendas,

and remember that a conversation is a two-way event.

Lord of all creation:

teach us your ways.

 

Father, we thank you

for the advances in medical knowledge

and the hope of new treatments for many diseases.

We pray for all in medical research

and all whose lives are disadvantaged

by illness, frailty and damage.

Give comfort and reassurance,

healing, wholeness and peace.

Lord of all creation:

teach us your ways.

Father, we call to mind,

all those we have known and loved

who lived among us and now have died.

We remember all who made that journey

unnoticed and alone.

We ask that they may all know your mercy

and the everlasting peace and joy of heaven.

Lord of creation;

teach us your ways.

 

Father, we thank you for your wisdom and truth,

your understanding and generosity.

We acknowledge our total dependence on you,

and praise you for providing us with all we need.

 

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.





HYMNS