Lectionary (Year A) Revised Common Lectionary: Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Theme: Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43: Living Among Thorns
This week’s Gospel reading highlights a perpetual fact, wheat and weeds frequently co-exist in farmed fields.
Farmers plant crops in various ways: some plant in rows while others sow seed by broadcasting (scattering). Fields planted by broadcasting are more likely to contain weeds. Broadcasting also forces the desirable produce to share soil with the undesirable weeds.
That Jesus draws our attention to the mangle of wheat and weeds in Matthew is no mistake. Is he trying to tell us something about the inevitabilities of life? And of the challenges of co-existing with others?
The passage presses us toward introspection. Can we live in fidelity to Christ among those whom we consider riff raff? Or do we constantly try to escape from messy people and messy situations? Are we in the church too quick to whip out weed-killer too slow to learn how to share space with undesirables? How may we live faithfully to Christ in contexts in which we cannot escape the constant prick of thorny personalities?
Jesus’ message in this passage is straightforward until verse 30. At that point, we see a glimpse of what the End Times will bring. Jesus’ teachings frequently carried apocalyptic meaning (See Matthew 13:50 and 25:41). Clearly Jesus intended his audience—then and now—to conclude that some type of judgment will take place at the End of the Age. God will sort out good from evil. Evil will be punished. In light of the recent verdict in a high profile legal case, we could benefit from remembering that God is the ultimate Judge.
Romans 8:12-25: More Than Adopted–Accepted
Adoption is one of the main themes in this passage. God adopts the Christian into the family of God. Roman culture informed Paul’s understanding about adoption. In Roman culture, fathers held absolute control over their families—including decisions over life and death.
In order for Roman adoption to occur the biological father had to relinquish his absolute power to the adoptive father. The litmus test that authenticates us as Christian is following the Spirit of God. Our adoption by God into the Christian family requires us to relinquish power over our lives to God.
Adoption by God means full acceptance and welcome into God’s family. God has no stepchildren. God’s adopted family is comprised of intimate, personal relationships evidenced by reference to God affectionately as Abba. Consider using the Roman adoption process as a key illustration to promote a fuller understanding of what happens when God adopts us.
(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)
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That fact is attitude.” – William James
“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” –Mohandas Ghandhi
“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Indira Gandhi
Shout to the Lord
Hymn of Promise
On Eagle’s Wings
Prayer of Confession (Based on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
Dear God, how easy it is for me to distinguish myself from “them.”
For the times I believe I am better than others—forgive me
For the times I put my ways on a pedestal to the neglect of others—forgive me.
For the times I avert my gaze so I won’t have to look at their condition—forgive me.
For the times I wished they would all go away and live somewhere else—forgive me.
For the times I feel no discomfort in judging others before I even know them—forgive me.
For the ease with which I label people “them” and “other”– forgive me.
Words of Assurance
Hear the Good News. Through Jesus Christ we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. God hears. God cares. God forgives. In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven.
In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven.