Sermon for the 16th July 2017

A Reflection on Matthew 13.1-9

Sunday 16th July 2017

 

Open our minds O God, to your word, and our hearts to your love. Amen.

In early July we held a PCC away day, perhaps more accurately described as an ‘away morning’ as we stopped at 12.30 – or maybe just as a ‘morning’ because we didn’t actually go anywhere (we were only in the Upper Room) …. The idea was that the longer time could be used differently to a normal PCC mtg; as a time to get to know each other better and to be creative too. We covered quite a lot of ground before ending with a more business type session- but one of the key themes which emerged in the first half was about discernment; not only about ‘what can we do – what ought we to be doing?’ but also… ‘what do we need to do less of?’. To prune, or thin, or to release – to let go, which can be really hard. Somebody brightly suggested that we could do without a full sermon every now and then-  so today, given our family  circumstances * , I’m taking up that idea-  well, almost.

 

As Borg and others have observed, parable act as invitations: invitations to explore, tease out puzzle over the meaning of something which isn’t quite clear…

The parable we’ve just heard is a familiar one, but it is rich enough to come back to again and again, so what follows are a set of 3 snapshots; events from the past week which, in the light of the parable, have given me cause to stop and think. They will be followed by an opportunity to reflect together on the text we’ve just heard which I’ll read again..for as Luz says, ‘Parables ask to be lived, not grasped by the intellect.’

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Many of you will have been here on Friday for John Wood’s memorial service. It was a truly fitting tribute to a remarkable man. During the service Adrian Alker recounted the story of how John gave him a copy of Marcus Borg’s book ‘Meeting Jesus for the first time’, and how so much followed from that moment; the stimulation of Adrian’s own thinking and ultimately the birth of the CRC…all from seed scattered by John.

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On Weds night CRC members joined with visitors for an evening with Jeremy Pemberton

and Sandra Newton, Sandra being partly voiced by Janet. It was a very interesting and deeply moving occasion, made all the more so when the conversation broadened to include speakers from our audience. Some of our visitors spoke of their personal struggles, fears and experiences of rejection by the church; of how difficult it had been to gather up all their courage – simply to enter a church building……

 

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This last Friday morning at Broomhall Breakfast was the busiest morning they have ever had: 90 cooked breakfasts served in under 2 hours. The busy team of volunteers worked flat out giving of their time and energy to a hungry and appreciative clientele. I heard yet again this week from visitors that it is the kindness of the people who work there that is most valued, even more than the food. I saw one man give his full breakfast away to someone else who’d already eaten but was still hungry; without hesitation, he ate it all……

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As I read this parable again, I wonder- will you hear a parable about a sower- or a parable about soil – or a parable about scattered seed – or about something else entirely?

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 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. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

Matthew 13.1-9 (NRSV)

 

I wonder, who or where are you in this story?

 

Where are we as a community, as a church in this story?

 

 

Christ our teacher

You reach into our lives

not through instruction,

but story.

Open our hearts to be attentive:

that seeing, we may perceive,

and hearing, may understand,

and understanding,

may act upon your word

in your name. Amen.

(prayer by Janet Morley)

 

 

 

 

*Stephen Colver was due to preach this morning but was unavailable due to family illness.

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