JULY 12, 2020 – SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dear Church Family,
If we had a theme for our readings this week, I suggest it might be — how wondrous and mysterious are the ways of God. We have ears, yet we’re not always listening attentively. Seed of love and life are planted, but find no soil in which to grow. We need not only the sower, but also assistance – understanding to welcome the wisdom of the Spirit. Listen with more than your ears as you pray the Collect for the Week. Listen with your heart.
In Genesis we read the beginning of Jacob’s life – the focal character, whose twin older brother is Esau. God has chosen the younger, shockingly, to plant the seed of the future of God’s people. Being the younger brother, Jacob has no claim or right to the elder brother’s role, except by the grace of God. Let the seed of grace – God is in charge, and all will be well — sink in. Pay attention to the grace notes in your life.
In the Epistle from Romans, Paul poses two real polarities. There are those who live “according to the flesh,” and those who live “according to the Spirit.” We choose what seems wise – common sense of this world, or we choose a different wisdom – the rule of God. It’s not an “either-or” dualism within you, but a cosmic duality – life in sin or life in God. We can say we set our hearts on God, yet not submit to God’s law — to love God, and thus love one another. The Spirit God freely gives — and we accept more and more, grows the life of God in us. Listen – to your words and watch your actions toward others. We live under the influence of both worlds. Which seems to have the stronger pull for your decisions – words, acts of love and kindness toward others – all, not just ones you think deserve your love?
The Gospel — the parable of the Sower can be pictured – a field, seed, a farmer. In common, everyday life the mystery of God is embedded. Our heart condition determines how we respond — stony, thorny, hardened, or receptive. The Sower is foolishly abundant and reckless in scattering seed everywhere – even where it will fail big time. Yet in the end the harvest is miraculous – beyond reason or possibility. As Jesus says, Listen. We have ears – even those who are deaf. In some way we listen, but to what? Pay attention, learn. Jesus’ invitation – keep listening to this parable — it’s not an ending — “Go, do this,” but a gift that will fall into the soil of your life differently, at different times, and you hear it applied for you — differently. It is mystery – not literal, “Here’s the lesson you need to learn,” but implants within you — figuratively, metaphorically, imaginatively, like a seed within you, to emerge and blossom into the world. The outcome can be quite miraculous. It’s the sower – a sower who seems to do some crazy things.
Read silently. Read aloud with someone, or aloud alone. Listen so the seed of the Word can find room to grow in you. Meditate long enough to hear what God is saying to you. Then let the seed transform you — just a little, even. For in God’s hands — a little is enough.
Blessings, and God’s grace that creates the desire to listen and receive what God knows you need, Fr. Steve
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”