Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer NT Reflections: Proper 6 (B)

from the Episcopal Church website (Sermons that Work)

Discussion Leader: Shane Patrick Gormley, Nashotah House Theological Seminary (WI)

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13) 14-17
In what are we confident? We are confident that God has prepared something better for us. Previous to this, Paul has said, “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (5:1). No matter what happens to us in this life, God is preparing something greater for us. This we may not always see; only our faith beholds the beauty that awaits us and will be revealed to us in the proper time. The confidence that Paul teaches us to have is to be enacted in the here and now. We live by faith – faith in what is being prepared for us, guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”

The work required by God has already been accomplished. “We are convinced that one has died for all” (14). Jesus Christ offered himself to be the propitiation for our sins, and so we enter into this work by joining in his death. We die to ourselves and live to God. “He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (15). We are remade into a new creation. “Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (17). And we can never forget that it is God who works this in us (18).

· What struggles do you encounter that you know are not a part of what is to come?
· Do you accept the grace to overcome those things now?
· How can you live as a new creation? How can your life continually be made new?
Mark 4:26-34
These two parables look at the kingdom of God, the reality that has broken upon the kingdom of this world declaring God as the true and righteous king of creation, and compare it to seeds. In the first, the kingdom is compared to the growth of a seed. Going to sleep, whether you’re a farmer or not, allows you to rest and let the world worry about itself for a little while. A seed doesn’t need us to stay awake for it to grow. We plant it and we water it, giving it what it needs for sustenance. But making it grow is up to God. Whether we think of the seed that we plant or the seed that is planted in us, we must remember that it is God who gives the growth.

When the harvest has come, we can also be assured that God will be there to reap it. God tends his garden and keeps it alive. God sustains his own kingdom and gives it the growth it needs at the proper time. He can work with anything we give him. Even the “smallest of all the seeds on earth” will become “the greatest of all shrubs.” Its large branches are the branches of the kingdom of God, which will stretch to the corners of the earth. God placed humans on earth to tend to it, and provide for its growth (Gen 1:26-28; 2:15). We are to take part in furthering the kingdom on earth, being its very branches and stretching farther and farther.

· What is the soil of your life like?
· Do you prepare yourself to allow the kingdom of God to grow in your life?
· How do you tend to the garden of your neighbor’s life?
· Do you make it easier for him or her to let the kingdom grow in his or her own life? How do you spread the kingdom around yourself?
All the Sunday readings can be found here. (Track 2)

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