Lectionary (Year A) Revised Common Lectionary: Genesis 25:19-34, Psalm 119:105-112 or Psalm 25, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
Theme: Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23
The Parable of the Sower is one of many parables recorded by Matthew. In lieu of direct confrontation, which may have been life threatening, Jesus frequently used parables to communicate his message indirectly—a strategy worth considering today. In this parable Jesus notes the various things that can happen to seed ( the Word of God). From some people the evil one steals it. In others the seed fails to take root or has fleeting benefit because they are more concerned about creature comforts. Thankfully, some people hear, heed and allow the seed to bear fruit.
A question for we who are charged to proclaim God’s word is this: where do we choose to sow seed? Do we try to figure out where the best soil is to the neglect of other soil we deem too rocky? Do we step around thorny personalities because we are more concerned with success in our ministry? Or as ministers of reconciliation are we called to sow the Word of God at every opportunity?
The focus of this passage is life through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The doorway to this new life begins with our choice to follow the way of the Spirit.
Paul reminds us that life in God, which the law could not provide, is now possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ put on human flesh and dealt with sin and death. Now, new life can dwell in the place of death within God’s people.
How is all of this possible? Because God resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead, proving that God is greater than death. That unparalleled power that resurrected Jesus Christ brings new life to God’s people.
Paul sets forth a clear dichotomy between living according to the flesh and living according to the Spirit. Living according to the flesh means living according to the law of human desire. Such a life is controlled by passion or lust or pride or ambition. That person’s life is self-absorbed.
In contrast, living according to the Spirit is a new life, refocused on Christ. It is a life that has relinquished control to the Spirit of God. This life bears spiritual fruit, practices faith and ministry, and subjects itself to Christian discipline.
This passage begs for a clean, clear presentation. Bring out the clear dichotomy between life in the flesh vs. life in the Spirit. Provide a concise remedy for the dilemma posed by living according to human desire — i.e. life-changing trust in Jesus Christ.
(For more sermon helps on Romans see “Book of Romans Sermon Starters: http://www.gbod.org/site/apps/nlnet/content.aspx?c=nhLRJ2PMKsG&b=4956515&ct=10848391¬oc=1)
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” –Maria Robinson
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman
“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” –Flora Whittemore
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.” –unknown
Lead Me, Guide Me
Be Thou My Vision
Light of the World
Hymn of Promise
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Gathering Meditation: Still God Sows (Based on Matthew 13:1-23)
What can be compared to God’s faithfulness? In spite of ‘thorny’ receptions, God continues to sow good news. Forgiveness, grace, love, and comfort all come from God’s hand with the hope that someone will receive them.
God sows tirelessly knowing that distractions prevent many seeds from sprouting. God sows when Doubt barges in, when Impatience taunts faith saying, “Why not give up because God has not answered yet?”
Still God sows, hoping that we will be the “good soil” that chooses to believe, to endure and to bear good fruit.
Sowing Seed: A Call to Worship (Based on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)
Leader: We plunge heart first into the seed-bag
People: Sifting, sorting, searching for the best seed to sow
Leader: While people gather around to sit and watch.
People: We wrap the seed in prayer and deliberation
Leader: Hoping, believing, trusting the seed will take root.
People: But, sometimes limp hands let the seed slip through their fingers.
Leader: We press the seed inside quips and quotes.
People: Some thank us for a “good talk,” but forget what they heard when trouble barges in.
Leader: We spread the best seed on the altar for all to see.
People: Some inspect the seed, but still prefer what the world offers.
Leader: Why do we bother?
People: Why DO we bother?
Leader: Because somewhere…
Leader: Someone will hear.
People: Someone will heed.
All: And it will be worth it. And we’ll prepare to sow all over again.