Sermon – Levels of Openness
Today we celebrate communion. Aside from all the faith benefits, some people like it because the sermon is shorter.
If you ask anyone if they have a sense of humour they will tell you yes. If you ask people around them the answer may not be in the affirmative. Everyone thinks they have a sense of humour, whether others do or not.
It’s the same with listening. If you ask people if they are good listeners they will reply “of course”. Or they may respond by saying “Pardon”?
We also think that we are basically good people.
So we are good people with a sense of humour and great listening skills. So we really have nowhere to improve.
That is why we tell stories with morals – to others. We don’t need them. Others do.
Therefore the scripture today about the 4 soils really doesn’t apply to us. We all know that we are number 4. It’s the same with so many of the stories Jesus told. We all think that we are the Good Samaritan, but if you pay close attention you find out – you’re not.
The story of the 4 soils is easy to understand, partly because Jesus explains it.
The first seed is sown along the path, where the birds eat it.
The second is sown in rocky thin ground so it grows fast but withers because
there is no depth.
The third seed grows fast but gets choked out by weeds.
The fourth seed grows in good soil and produces well. Jesus’ point to the
disciples was, that these are the type of people you will meet as you try to
spread his story.
Jesus then gave the interpretation of the parable.
The first soil is the person who believes anything and everything. They believe the words of Jesus but next day believe someone else’s story and so on.
The second is people who have no inner strength. They have no will power and
as soon as there is any question or difficulty they back down.
The third is people who get distracted by materialism or addictions
But the fourth is the people who have it together. They hear the word of God
and they hold on to it in spite of other distractions. They have depth to their character
We often enjoy identifying people of the various categories. We know who the light thinker in the group is, or the materialist. We know which one of our friends has no will power and we sometimes share stories about their failures.
Then we discover that we are not to judge anyone other than ourselves and realistically that is the only judgement that counts.
So let’s focus on putting ourselves in this story. What if all these numbers apply to us? What number are you?
(Some would say they are a 10 but that’s a different story)
Most would say they are number 4, but are you always? I would suggest that we are all different numbers at different times. These are the stages we go through. We move from one stage to the other as we grow.
Sometimes we are a number one. We are just so confused that we can’t make up our minds about what to believe and so we stop trying to figure anything out. There are times when we are a number 2. Somebody ridicules our beliefs or opinions and immediately we abandon our convictions.
Sometimes we belong to category 3. We have discovered some wisdom in the word of God. We may have even made up our mind to practice or faith but then the materialism of our lifestyle takes over and we decide that we don’t have the time, money or effort to look into the spiritual side of life.
I believe it is a process to become a 4. It takes practice and courage to be a person who listens and grows; a person who is open to the seeds that God throws down in front.
Too many people have already made up their minds about too many things. They are not fertile ground anymore.
You know the saying, My mind is made up don’t confuse me with the facts.
We are constantly being showered with new seeds; new ideas; new ways of comprehending.
We have a lot of politically correct groups and special interest groups. Just because a group objects to something doesn’t mean they are right but it does mean we should listen. Not all the seeds that fall on the ground are useful. A forester told me just a few days ago, if you are looking for acorns to grow a tree, don’t pick up the ones that the squirrels have discarded.
We have all kinds of ethnic and racial support groups as well as Black Lives Matter, Gay, Anti-gay, Native, Environmental, Animal Rights, Women Lib, Men’s Lib, addiction and mental health groups etc. We still have a flat earth society. We have conspiracy groups. We have lots of religious groups. We would have a procrastinators groups but they can’t choose a date.
They are not all right but they all believe they have a reason for existence. Sort it out and discover the good seeds for yourself. You only grow by looking at new ideas.
When you think about it – there was a time when the conspirators claimed that there were other continents. It wasn’t until they brought home the sand of a foreign beach that they were believed.
You can never learn less than you know now
We do have an advantage over the soil. We can reject the seeds that poison the ground, but don’t reject them until you know they are poison.
There was a time when Jesus was seen as a bad guy.
Fortunately some were open minded enough to believe him.
Search for ways that God is trying to reach you. Seeds are being planted all the time – will you let them grow?
God, open our eyes, that we may see your vast creativeness. Open our minds that we may comprehend the interaction of all your creation. Open our hearts that we may see the value in every person and open our understanding that we might grow through the differences.
Jesus brought new ideas and new understandings of you. Help us reflect that new concept of unconditional love so others may see him in us.
We pray now for people who are close to us, We pray for others who especially need pray at this time.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen
Let us Pray. God we ask that you would bless this meal that we are to take part in. May your Spirit be present with each person who is gathered in so many ways. Amen
As we come together for this meal we are reminded of the physical distance between us. For months we have not been able to see people who we count as friends and as family. When Jesus celebrated this meal with his disciples he knew that many of them would be taking a journey and for some they would never see the others again. For some their world would be completely changed. The normal world that they knew would become new. So Jesus instituted this meal as a way of being together in spite of the distances between us. Ass we celebrate let us remember that we are not alone.
Hold the bread
After Jesus had given thanks he took the bread and said” This bread is symbolic of my body. It will be broken, but so you understand the depth of commitment I have for you. Take and eat this.
Eat the Bread
Hold the Juice
This juice is the fruit of the vine. It is symbolic of the new covenant. From now on all people are welcome. We are all together in this journey of life. Take and drink this juice
Drink the Juice
Let us Pray. God as we depart from here, help us to always feel you with us. No matter where we go or the barriers we need to overcome, may we always be mindful of your presence.
SERVICE July 12
Announce re Communion prep
Hymn – 376 Spirit of the Living God
Scripture Matthew 13: 1-9 + 18-23
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen