Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sermon - June 14 (10:15 AM - Baptism)

Lead me Lord,
 In the paths of peacefulness
 In the roads of righteousness
 in the ways of willingness.
Lead me Lord,
 Down the tracks of thoughtfulness
 In the streets of sensitiveness 
 By the journey of joyfulness.
Lead me Lord, today. Amen. (David Adam)

Today we begin a summer journey together, a journey through the parables of Jesus.

Parables are rooted in the images of everyday life and yet a parable is “where the ordinary has gone askew and thereby shocks us into realizing that the parable leads us into another way of thinking about life.” (John R. Donahue)

For Jesus is trying to expand our mind, to get us to consider things more deeply - What is the Kingdom of God like?

· A sower sewing seed - the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how; but then comes the harvest!

· A mustard seed – the smallest of seeds – after its sown, it grows & becomes the greatest of all shrubs

What is the Kingdom of God like?
It begins as a seed in the field. The earth nurtures it, the rain nourishes it. The farmer works to bring the grain to harvest; he collects it and separates it from the chaff. A baker then grinds it and kneads it; the dough is baked until what was once seed becomes bread.

In the vineyard, the grapes on the vine are cared for as if they were precious gems. Blessed by the sun and rain, the grapes are collected by the gentle hand of the vintner and then pressed and stored. In God's good time, at the perfect moment, the precious liquid becomes wine.

Bread and wine, gifts of the earth, the work of human hands.
Bread and wine, now placed on our altar.
Bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ, lovingly given to us in the Eucharist.

But the bread and wine is more than holy gifts for God’s holy people; they are parables of what it means to become God's people, to help bring about the Kingdom of God.

Like seed, we are transformed from grain to flour through the creative love of God. The seed first planted in baptism - farmers and vintners - in the form of parents, spouses, teachers, pastors, friends - have nurtured us and formed us. We struggle to finally grow up; we stumble along the way. Like grain that is baked into bread, like grapes that ferment into wine, we change and become complete not in spite of what we suffer but because of what we suffer and receive. We are kneaded in the water of baptism; we are re-created in the fire of the Spirit.

And like the many grapes that are pressed together into the unity of the sweet liquid that fills the chalice, our prayers and sacrifices, our acts of generosity, our work of reconciliation and forgiveness, our sacrifices for one another in imitation of Jesus (who is both the vine and winemaker), makes us "church" - the wine of the sacrament of unity with God and one another.

What we see on this table is ourselves. We are bread; we are wine. We are called to be the sacraments we receive. [Adapted from a sermon by St. Augustine of Hippo.]
In the parables of the Kingdom of God, it is the seed, tiny, almost insignificant and then it is planted & it grows, it brings life. Today that story begins for William Henry & Ariana Elise – the seed of faith planted with them at their baptism. That seed will be nurtured in them, like it is with us, in the Eucharist, and with the people around them.

In the Eucharist, bread and wine are transformed by the Spirit of God into the body and blood of Christ; the sacrament we receive should transform us into sacraments, as well - sacraments of God's love for one another, signs of God's presence to our families and communities.

As the Eucharist makes us Christ's church of reconciliation to the world, the Eucharist makes each one of us a minister of reconciliation; as the Eucharist animates the Church with the life of Christ, the Eucharist animates our lives in the love and compassion of God.

"If you have received worthily," St. Augustine preached, "you are what you have received."

Today the parables have begun. The seeds are planted. What are the parables saying to you?


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