Sermon – 06-17-18 – Proper 6 – Cycle B
Scripture – Ezekiel 17:22-24, 1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13; Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:6-17; Mark 4:26-34
Sermon Title: The Lowly Shall Be Mighty
Once upon a time, a young, slender, shepherd boy became a mighty king. Once upon a time, a lowly, tiny seed became a mighty bush/tree. Once upon a time a lowly, tiny baby became our King and Lord.
Paraphrase of Psalm 92:12-18
Right now, lowly people who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. We shall still bear fruit in old age; we shall be green and succulent. We shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
Once upon a time and right now and in the future, we are privileged and responsible for the Kingdom of God to flourish. Privileged, yes! Not of the world, not to please the world, but to please our Lord God. We stay green and vibrant to grow the Kingdom of God in the world. We stay green and vibrant to remain enveloped in the great, green strong branches of this great tree – the realm of the loving God. This great tree provides security, companionship, a place to hide. But there is a time for hiding. It is not always time to hide. We may be nourished deep in the boughs of this great cedar of the kingdom, but to keep the whole tree alive we need to work ourselves to the edge of the branches, to extend the branches, to provide more invitation, more reason to join the kingdom, more passion for sharing the love of Jesus and the salvation for internal peace, and the salvation for eternal life.
This kingdom of God is already here but not fully! This sheltering tree brings you and me out of the world enough to be refreshed and sustained. We are not to be selfish. We are challenged by Jesus to go and share and invite.
At first this sharing is not easy. We are welcome to take little steps, to plant little seeds. We can gradually slip the word “God” into our conversations. For example, in conversation, I find myself saying that each time I return safely into my driveway, I thank God. Our inward and outward gratitude for each little act, that is engineered and guided by God, shows on our countenance, in our very being – the way we are.
Our attitudes become contagious – maybe in small bytes as in b-y-t-e-s. Our scripture today uses the image of seeds because Jesus used that image. However, this image did not start with Jesus. We find seeds as an image from the beginning of recorded history. There is so much promise in a seed. There is so much hope in the planting of the seed.
So when we proceed to plant seeds of invitation for people to accept the gospel, to accept Jesus to be in charge of our lives, to accept the gift of eternal salvation, we have this hope. Just as when we plant vegetable seeds, and flower seeds, and tree seeds, we envision with hope the sprouting, the growing, the flourishing. What about the promise? Surely, some seeds do not appear as sprouts above the soil – like little noses wanting to breathe the air and foreheads to feel the sun. Should we feel depressed about those losses? We could! Maybe the soil was too wet. Maybe we did not loosen the soil enough or water the soil enough.
In that case, we could accept that failure as a sign that we are not good at planting seeds and resolve never to plant another seed. Or, we could research the good methods to plant seeds. We can ask people who have been successful with being gardeners. We could “google” “planting seeds” on the internet. We could go to the library or a book store to read proven methods.
So it is when we feel obligated to plant seeds of inspiration. Inspiration is not necessarily limited to things of God. But to inspire can be an invitation to open the door to God and all that God offers for our souls and our general well-being. Receiving the blessings of God is the door opening in, letting God come in. We are made with a swinging door in our hearts and minds. What comes in will wither and die if we forget or ignore the part about going out to share the love, the guidance, the protection that God offers. If we forget the “going out” part, this gift from God will disappear.
The seed that is not nourished will shrivel and die. The seed that is nourished has a force that sends it forth. While the goodness is being sent forth into the world the roots are growing internally.
What is this nourishment that a seed needs? You already know – reading the Bible, letting the words and the meaning soak into our brains and feelings, praying, developing an open line of communication with God, singing songs about God, having an attitude of thankfulness. This is the nourishment which will grow the kingdom of God to become an ever-enlarging forest of faith. Faith and hope increase as we find our witness being on the edge of security, on the edge of comfort, bearing new branches and new seeds in the fruit of the branches.
Imagine a world where God’s word and love grow like a dry sponge that is made wet. Imagine our world where love for one another abounds. Evil would be stifled, crushed! Imagine! Do we want a world like that? Or do we like our competitive existence where countries fight countries, or countries overtake and swallow neighboring geographical entities? Do we think that is the best way to run a world? Who runs the world, anyway? Of course, God does! Then why do the nations compete and war? Then why are humans, yes even Christians, persecuted. Who is in charge here anyway?
Is this difficulty in our hands? Are we not doing our job well enough and earnestly enough? Don’t we have faith that our little seed will help to increase the kingdom? Oh, the promise is that even if our faith is as little as a mustard seed, this one mustard seed could become a large shrub, so that the birds of the air can nest in it.
Growing the kingdom of God so that the people of the world can find shelter in it! This seems like a 24/7 responsibility. Wait! Verses 26-29 of Mark 4 tell us that we shall get the seed to the ground and then we wait. When the seed has flourished and is ready for harvest, we need to be ready and active with a welcome, with a gracious welcome.
Getting the seed to the ground! Aha! We need to grab faith in hand and go forth. We need to mingle with the people of the world. God just placed this wonderful thought in my path from Thea Racelis, in a blog by Emily C. Heath on June 7, 2018, “We can love God enough to risk loving the world.” Let us challenge ourselves to get our heads out of the sand, grab a bit of faith, and go meet the world with some tiny mustard seeds of love and gospel.