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Archive for June 18th, 2018

sower meme

Sermon 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Concordia Lutheran Mission 17 June, 2018. Text:  Psalm 1 and St. Mark 4: 26-34 

There are 150 Psalms and the 1st Psalm is the keynote and the Psalms begin with a Beatitude:  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but  his delight is in the law of the LORD…”   and the Lord shows us the way His people are to be like, “…a tree planted by streams of water”, then that man is fruitful, not so the wicked, “…like chaff that the wind blows away”, kind of unreal and quite fleeting, as fleeting as the morning dew or the last Facebook posting.  The way of the Lord is just that a “way” a road, a path.  As when the Lord came to earth, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me”. We stand, sit and walk in the Lord’s way, yet we are like trees planted by streams of water.  Walking and planted, how can we be both?  It seems God’s people are kind of like ents.   The ents were the trees in The Lord of the Rings who could both walk and talk, and yet took nourishment from the earth and they were slow in everything. Our nourishment is from the streams of living water of God’s Word. 

The Book of Ezekiel during the exile into Babylon. Both Ezekiel and the Lord saw in Israel dead bones. Can we see that in the church today?  Marriage between man and woman alone is denied.  Abortion is promoted. Divorce is winked at.  The poor are extolled while we worship our unappeasable appetites.  Celebrity is likewise extolled and adored while saintliness is considered antiquated. Good works as salvation via social activism is openly promoted while faith is assumed.  At church assemblies people know more about Robert’s Rules of Order, than the Lord’s rules, that is, the Law of God.  The newest fad of  ‘theology’ is read or lectured and the Bible is denied. Christians are more interested in updating their Facebook status than in improving their hearts and souls through the Word of God.  A comfortable Christ is preached but not the crucified Christ for the comfort of His forgiveness. We worship on our derrieres on padded pews and worse, to want our worship likewise padded, but not desiring the comfort of the Gospel for sinners.  As there really are no ‘sinners’, no one is wicked, except the person(s) we do not like. 

Truly,

And all man’s Babylons strive but to impart
The grandeurs of his Babylonian heart. (Francis Thompson)

The “streams of water” (vs. 3) is the Hebrew also for canals, as in the canals coming off the Tigris and Euphrates in Babylon.  The Lord will accomplish that which He purposes for His Word (Isaiah 55). He will plant it, as the Sower who cast His seed upon the earth, and water His Word even in Babylon.  Israel could live even in a foreign land for there was the living water of His Word.  As for the Church and Her Christians, “Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land.”   And the foreign nature of a sinful world will affect and infect even a family, a nation, the Church but we do not need to transplant ourselves into false doctrines and ways to thrive.  All in the seed is all the power of God to grow and grow us, watered by God’s almighty hand, fed by every Word of God.

In these fast paced times, running at cyber speed, we need to slow down.  As the main ent in Lord of the Rings, Treebeard said of his name,

“…my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.” 

The true story of the Bible tells us our name, Christian, Whom we belong to. Growth takes time and note that most of the lessons for today are about green and growing things: a tree planted by streams of water, a sprig from a cedar that the Lord planted on Zion, seeds broadcast planted and the mustard seed. God’s Word is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.  “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.’ (Prov. 16: 20) “Be still and know that I am God”.  (Ps. 46: 10).  “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Prov. 13: 14).  Two ways, the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked will perish

An important aside coming from today’s Gospel, as we are told about the farmer, “…sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.”  Except now we know a whole more on the how.  We know what is in a seed and it is amazing! Water, sun and time maybe are all triggers to begin the germination process with all sorts of reactions occurring in the seed.  Yet, the Lord in saying that the farmer “knows not how”, is not a statement of ignorance, but of wonder.  My Grandfather, a farmer one day said to me when I was a child, “Every year I plant my crops and ever year I am still surprised something comes up!”  With an 8th grade education Grandpa probably knew the “how” of germination, after all he first taught me about the last ice age in Minnesota that created the coal black, humus rich soil of Minnesota, but he was still amazed at germination.  Science does not explain the Creator away, but can increase the wonder and joy of what we take for granted as the Creator designed it all down to the DNA. 

“Man shall not perish for lack of information but appreciation”, wrote Rabbi Abraham Heschel.  Those seemingly inert, dead seeds come to life.  We think an atomic bomb is so powerful and it is and it is horrific and yes, and quick as one of them can change the earth in a nano-second and  we marvel at this work of men’s hands, but just think of the power in a seed, good seed, a yearly miracle of the Creator.  Seeds change the earth every year,

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” , 

as the Lord promised after the Deluge. We do not need to sweat “climate change” but neither do we intentionally treat the Lord’s gift of the planet as a garbage can. 

The seed of God’s Word is a daily miracle.  The sower rises day and night as the seed gives life as the seed of God’s Word is eternal life.  The seed of God’s Word that attends us, keeps us. The Lord will show us when we are amiss and wandering off like the prodigal son. Then He shows us the Way of the righteous which the Way of the Righteous One who on the Cross bore our sins and is our Savior, to guide us back to Himself. The seed of God’s Word will show us the ways to love sustained in faith in Jesus Christ.

Just think of the power in a seed.  Seeds look so insignificant.  We take them for granted.  Like a mustard seed, so many are so small yet in it’s DNA, in the smallest of seeds is the life of the world.  The Gospel, the Word of God looks so insignificant in the world.  The preaching and teaching of the Gospel is considered insignificant to the world.  It is despised in the sight of those that prefer the philosophy and wisdom of this world. But when it comes to results, to spiritual life and strength, then human wisdom cannot even come into consideration. For the Word of God alone can take hold of a man’s heart and renew it entirely, change his entire life and manner of thinking.  A foreigner became a patriarch, father of nations: Abraham.  A foreigner, became the ancestor of King David:  Ruth.  A runaway murderer received the Law from God, Moses.  I could go on. And the same effect may be observed in the history of the Church. A mere handful of disciples assembled in the upper room in Jerusalem has grown to a body whose size is such as to be known to God only, although even the number of those that profess Christianity is very large. That fact is a source of constant comfort to all believers, whether they be pastors or not: their labor cannot be in vain, since they have the living Word to deal with. (Dr. Paul Kretzmann)

The living Word Himself was planted,

John 12:23-25   23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

The cross is the tree of life in the paradise of His saints in the world. He is the Vine, we are the branches, without Him we can do nothing.    

“The sower went out to sow…” “…a farmer scatters seed upon the earth…” (Mark 4). The seed is the Word (Mark 4: 14). Yes, the times are rough…but just consider those 12 Apostles going into the Roman Empire, not exactly receptive politically or spiritually to the Word of the Kingdom! Jesus sent out the 12 and except John, all were brutally martyred and the Word spread, as a seed, insignificant to the world, yet it changed the world, people, like a mustard seed, “…when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With a lot of strange birds in it like Catholics and Lutherans, Baptists and Evangelicals and Orthodox!   “Even a seven year old child knows what the Church is: namely, holy believers, lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd.” (The Lutheran Confessions).  Now a nation may choose a ghetto for us in order to keep the Church contained, but I do not think we should ever choose our own ghettos, the Lord does not want us to.

“Jesus now pictures the life that is in the seed, as life which has the power of growth and development unto maturity in itself. … All that a man does is ‘to throw the seed on the earth,’ and that is all he can do. The seed itself does all the rest.” 

We need to do some throwing, sowing and praying the Lord of the harvest to show us ways to do so.

We cannot trust power politics to save the Church or the day any longer.  We were never suppose to.  We speak the Word, live the Word, pray the Word, love the Lord and serve and love our neighbors. We are spiritual Ents in Christ Jesus, trees planted by streams of the living water of our Baptism in the midst of our Babylons.  The Apostle Peter warned at the end of his second letter that many would deny the Word,

…which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

 

 

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