Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sexagesima Sermon

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The Purpose of the Parables And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. (Luk 8:4-15)
Grace Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father, and Jesus Christ his Son Our Lord. Amen
The text for our sermon this morning is from the 8th chapter of Luke the Gospel that was just read.
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Holding fast in an honest and good heart the word, that with patience it might bear fruit, the wheat that bears a hundred fold. This is the word that falls on the good soil. So much of the seed had potential, but it is eaten before it has chance to take hold, trampled, scorched by the sun, choked out by weeds, but the good soil the seed that falls on good soil, reaches it’s potential with patience, bearing through the troubles, the trials and tribulations. They hold fast to the word with an honest and good heart.
It doesn’t take long. It doesn’t take long to see wheat go to naught. Seed scattered on the ground and eaten by the crows before it has a chance to even sprout. How often does one try to share the gospel, and it falls on deaf ears? People latch on to half-baked criticisms and excuses not to believe. Satan has done his work well and his crows are legion in society. They snatch up the seed it seems before it even has a chance to fall on the ground.
Neither is it hard to see the word take hold and sprout fast, only to quickly be scorched by the sun, as the shallow roots fail to find water. How many times do you see people start to believe? They revel in the joy of new found faith, the forgiveness of sins. But when the first trials of life come along they say, it doesn’t do anything for me. And they quit, and look for something else to make them happy. Someone else to do their bidding.
Then you have those for whom, well they come when times are hard, but then well things turn around. Everything they asked for God gave them, and they figure they don’t need him anymore. The cares and riches of this world choke them out. It’s amazing how a big house, cars and family time will choke out faith.
So you have people lose faith because things are good and you have people lose faith because of tribulation, either plenty or hunger, abundance or need, and they don’t know how to face it. Two ditches on either side of the road. But the good soil learns to hold fast to the word with a good heart and a clean conscience. They learn like Paul who says: I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phi 4:12-13)
This isn’t always easy. It isn’t that you just have faith so that you don’t feel the pressure of tribulation, trial and temptation. Sometimes it is hard to see the wisdom of God, to know his will is. But you hold fast to the word and trust his promises, realizing that the God who sacrificed his son for you, to give you eternal life, he won’t forsake you and he is in control. And the good times come and the temptation is to think you don’t need God, or his word. It would be easier just to enjoy life. And this is its own kind of trap and tribulation, through which the devil puts your mind on earthly things.
But bear with patience, enduring hardship and plenty, need and abundance, remaining faithful to the word of God, remaining and abiding in Christ through participation in his word and the sacraments. Here is the secret, patient steadfast adherence to God’s word, and fruit will be born, a hundred fold. It is as true for a congregation as it is for an individual. Steadfast endurance through abundance and need, plenty an distress, but through it all, and it bears fruit, a hundred fold, because the word takes root, and accomplishes that for which it came, your salvation, your life redeemed by the blood of Christ for the heavenly banquet.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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