Sermon - July 23, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – July 23, 2023


Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 11
Sunday July 23, 2023
Year A

First Reading: Genesis 28:10-19a
Psalm 139:1-11,22-23
Romans: 8:12-25 
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

God’s Purpose will Prevail

The Collect:

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and forever. Amen.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven and Where is it?

Matthew 13, from the beginning, Jesus is teaching all who are following him. The great crowds have gathered beside the sea, to listen to him. He has been teaching in parables.

 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.”

It is difficult for the farmers, to be able to watch their fields grow, only to have weeds taking over and squeezing the roots of the wheat they planted.

We all have the weight on our shoulders and some people have more then others, lost jobs, lost income, possibility of being homeless…. The people who gathered on the beach to hear Jesus tell them stories, were not much different. They all had experienced oppression from Rome. Even among their own people, they watched the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Jesus, says, “Let everyone with ears listen” we are reminded that these parables are more than entertaining stories.

They are stories that read to us, and how we hear them, depends on the condition of our hearts and minds and where we are in our faith.

In the passages, following our gospel today, Jesus talks about 5 different parables regarding the kingdom of heaven.

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So, it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil form the righteous. 

This is where we can have that AHA moment of understanding, is it always clear? No, but it is something the disciples understood, He is speaking their language where they could at a time in history that only they can understand him. 

He is saying, it is not far off in a distance, or up there, or somewhere out there. The kingdom is everywhere, in everything that God has created.

With the parables and the others to follow, he tells us just how big the kingdom of heaven is. By talking about the mustard seed.

Mustard seeds are so small that they can go un-noticed when planting wheat and the farmer would sow his wheat and soon a mustard seed would sprout up with the wheat.

The farmer of course, would want them re-moved, because they were weeds in his field.

Jesus is saying, it is hard to separate the good from the bad, but as his kingdom grows and like the smallest of the seeds, become the biggest in the field, to offer shade and comfort to the smallest of birds. (people)

Showing us and the people at that time, how God is at work in the world. 

Jesus has described the growth of the mustard seed and the flour mixed with the yeast and it turns out to be leavened bread.

I must tell you that yeast was used for many reasons during the time of Jesus and it was not positive. Its symbolized impurity, evil and unclean. 

But we also see the positive of how it grows, God’s kingdom grows, infiltrating all of creation and the world.

If we look and try to see God’s beautiful creation, imagining his presence in all things, growing like the unleavened bread.

Yes, just like the field of wheat, the seeds are difficult to see and the bad mixed in with the good, it is difficult to separate out. 

God is telling us, it is not your job to do that, I will do that, when I send the angels and they will separate the evil from the righteous.

Jesus wanted them, to see that it was a way to describe, how God is growing in the community and working in them to spreading the news of how God grows in each one of us.

The problem with us, we do not see God in all places and in all things. 

We only look for God when we need him, we do not realize that God is working in us every day in his kingdom that is bigger than we ever thought. 

In Romans, we see that Paul says, all things work together for good for those who love God.

People are God’s creation and we cannot be separated from his creations, we have been called and we are glorified in him. (Romans: 8:12-25)

The Christians have no further obligation to the flesh. They are to live according to the Spirit rather than the flesh. There is enormous privilege in Christian living in having the presence of power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. 

What does God want us to do and how does He want us to handle these periods of waiting? 

(Romans 8:25) Paul encourages us by saying, “That we should look forward to something we do not have yet and to do so with patience and confidence.”

Paul means, not that all circumstances of this life are good for us, God’s love is reaffirmed; despite all present adversities, and that in all these things God’s purpose prevails.

Conclusion and Good News. 

The kingdom of God is as far as the ocean is wide and deep, the highest of the mountains and into space. We cannot even imagine the how big his kingdom is, because our minds do not reach that far.

Because we are in communion with Christ Jesus, God’s kingdom lives in each one of us and it is comforting to know that through us, God’s kingdom will continue to grow.

Remember, “That nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And God’s purpose will prevail! (Romans 8: 38-39)

Jesus, help us to remember not to focus on things that are on the surface, but to focus on what is eternal and to not live in the artificial world, but to live for the spiritual world which is where we find our strength and our salvation in God’s kingdom! 

The Rev. Lola Culbreath