Sunday Readings & Comments

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

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 10
July 12, 2020 – Year A
The Collect

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.

Old Testament

Genesis 25:19-34

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.”
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

The Response

Psalm 119:105-112

Lucerna pedibus meis
105 Your word is a lantern to my feet *
and a light upon my path.
106 I have sworn and am determined *
to keep your righteous judgments.
107 I am deeply troubled; *
preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, O Lord, the willing tribute of my lips, *
and teach me your judgments.
109 My life is always in my hand, *
yet I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me, *
but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111 Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; *
truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes *
for ever and to the end.

The Epistle

Romans 8:1-11

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law– indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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.

The Gospel

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 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!”

“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.”

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