Sermon Sunday 13th June ASLM from very small to very big Lessons from Mark 4 and 1 Samuel 16 and 2 Corinthians 5 Revd Tudor Vaughan Roberts
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 and 14-17 Mark 4:26-34
In the Bible sluggards are not popular at all Proverbs 6:6 says.
“Go to the ant you sluggard consider its ways and be wise”.
The hard worker on the land is by contrast greatly commended:
“Those who work their land will have abundant food but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty”.
In Proverbs 27:23 it is the lard working Livestock farmer who is commended:
“Be sure that you know the condition of your flocks give careful attention to your herds”.
Indeed, throughout the Bible we are never commended to be those who simply gaze at the sunset. St Paul says, “awake O sleeper and arise from the dead and Christ shall give you light Look carefully then how you walk not as unwise men but as wise”. Ephesians 6:14 to 15
Throughout scripture and throughout Christian writings and experience hard work and diligence and keenness and fervour are extolled. It is no chance that the agricultural revolution and industrial revolution in Britain closely followed the Reformation and Puritan revival .I know being Puritan is now used as an insult but only those who have never read puritan works say this, read them, as in fact they are brilliant.
But here is the But, and its big but when it comes to growing the Kingdom of God, seeing people come to faith, seeing ourselves grow from small beginnings, we need to learn that this is a work of grace the Kingdom of God is a work of Divine grace .
We can Love Pray act dream Go
We can spread scriptures throughout the land We can worship. Indeed, we are as Romans 10 says to send out preachers, but the work of changing a boy and girl into a believer of changing a man or woman into a believer that is God’s work.
In Mark 4:26 – 33 Jesus tells two parables about growth the Kingdoms very DNA is to grow.
Elephants lift up their trunks.
And the Kingdom of God GROWS.
Somehow in England and the West we have it stuck in our mind the Kingdom of God declines
No! it grows whether we see it or not whether we hear it or not whether we perceive it or not.
As Jesus tell this story about a seed it is not like other stories about seeds in fact this one about the growing seed is unique to Mark.
Here there are no enemies no weeds, no people sowing bad plants just a growing seed; focus on that:
The point of this parable the first one in our reading from St Mark 4 is that seeds grow. As Paula Gooder (Canon Theologian at St Pauls London) says:
“Farming is a profoundly active exercise but at its heart is a mystery the mystery of growth. Conditions such as soil quality or the presence of weeds will affect the quality of production, but seeds do just grow It is what any gardener will tell you it is in the very nature of a seed to grow. All we have to do is let it!”
The Sower in this story is not sowing in rows he scatters the seed as they do in the Mediterranean world, and then he goes on with the routine of his daily life. Slowly imperceptibly the seed begins to sprout. The farmer does not know how this happens even today with amazing advances in microbiology life remain a mystery what was a dry seed becomes a living moving growing thing: a plant!
First the blade and then the ear then the full grain, then patience and rain and sun, and then finally the harvest comes, the sickle is sharpened and then the cutting begins immediately with no delay.
So, in This parable the emphasis is less on the Sower and more on the seed and the miraculous process by which seeds germinate and a plant appears.
In this context Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14:14 are worth reading:
English Standard Version
13 Put in the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
for the winepress is full.
The vats overflow,
for their evil is great.
English Standard Version
14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.
So as ever when Jesus preaches, he wishes to wake up our hearts and point to a future reality one day the harvest will happen when the world comes to an end in the meantime be encouraged Church the kingdom grows it s NOT dependant on us.
Secondly Jesus uses the parable of the Mustard seed: the Mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds yet when fully grown you can get, in the Near Middle East in good soils, what look almost like a tree. What was minute becomes massive.
Look at the growth of the Church today 2.8 billion people! From 3000 on the day of Pentecost.
And here is the radical thing: Birds perch in its shade. Birds normally eat plants, but the growth of this Mustard seed plant is so rapid, and it becomes so big they live in it!
In the West we need reminding that the DNA of the Church is growth
The group you invite onto Zoom to study the Bible might transform two lives, they go on to transform 20 lives.
The debt advice you give changes one family, the children grow up not bitter but thankful, they marry, and their families are a beacon of hope on their estate.
I was nurtured in the faith at my primary School by a Godly Welsh teacher Mrs Williams, I went to a brilliant Sunday School, l I came to faith in Paris France. You fill in the gaps for yourself.
In 1 Samuel, Samuel is told by God to see with new eyes and God chooses David not one of David’s big brothers. Small beginnings which became a mighty Kingdom
In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul tell us this
“From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view If anyone is in Christ the new creation has come”.
Small seeds become trees, boys become Kings, we see through new eyes. The Kingdom of God really is a totally new and radical way of seeing.
How we need this .
The Church Post Covid wil not be the same as 18 months ago. The world is different we can never go back.
How might God want you and I to see with new eyes, hear with clearer ears and sense with greater perception and a new heart ?
Romans 8 and Romans 12 tell us there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. and that we are not to conform to the pattern of this world.
So rather than weep at the problems we face God might just want us to lift up our eyes be encouraged in our hearts and see differently.
Then we CAN do something
We act on the truth that God reveal to us.
God brings the harvest but we have to get out the combine Harvester!
Off you go!
Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
To listen to the expanded story of this sermon see you in Church 10.30 am Sunday 13th June All Saints Lydiard Millicent SN5 3LS