Reverend Rob Lamerton
10 July 2005, Pentecost 8
When we have tried to talk to our son Gareth (who has Down's Syndrome); about Church, he says that Church is just "WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!"
Words can sometimes overwhelm us, but we need them to communicate
but so often we need to check how what we say and the words we use are received by others. — I know of one person who has been so traumatized that certain words send him into a state of anger and depression.
For him, the words are triggers recalling great pain!
Words too define us and depending on the way we use them they can help or hinder conversation.
What is God's WORD?
All three and more!
God speaks and it happens
WORD — God activity communicates LIFE!
When Paul uses the word "flesh" he is not talking about an aspect of our humanity which is our lower nature, but in the terms of his day, flesh referred to the whole person which required restoration or redemption.
(restoration with the Creator God.)
The option Paul is talking about when he contrasts living "according to the flesh" and living "according to the Spirit" is living according to our human nature.
living in openness to a relationship with God via God's Spirit.
Flesh is something like the life of Adam before God's Spirit is breathed into him.
The human life opened up to and enlivened by the breath of God's spirit within
To speak of Flesh representing our "lower nature" suggests that there are aspects of our lives which are somehow beneath God's power to redeem and restore. Sometimes people speak of our higher nature as something which does not need redemption.
We are not a body which is out of God's reach with a Spirit which is within God's grasp! We are complete people!
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
God's concern is with our wholeness.
On Wednesday we had a division about how the Bible is remarkably honest about human failure and frailty and yet woven through the story God's purpose is worked.
In our Old Testament reading today we hear of the next generation revealing their human frailty.
Last week Isaac met Rebecca and they were married.
This week Esau and Jacob are born.
The twists and turns continue and Jacob manipulates a situation where he gets Esau to abandon his birthright and bequeath it to Jacob.
Yet another example that these ancient people of God who are called to participate in God's purpose are NOT shining examples of moral behaviour!
— However, as time goes by, Jacob and Esau are reconciled as Jacob becomes open and responsive to God.
and of course openness and responsiveness to God is what Jesus is talking about when he tells the story of the sower and the receptive qualities of various soils.
We often refer to this story as the Parable of the Sower.
Some have called it the Parable of the Soils!
And once again, Jesus does not just use words — but stories and pictures which were very familiar to his audience.
The various levels of receptivity are represented by:
and here again we need to understand the words in context! Evidently, in Jesus' day if a head of wheat (from a single grain) produced seven (average) to ten (good) grains, it was a good yield. BUT Jesus speaks of
an absolutely AMAZING harvest!!!
It seems from Jesus' explanation in verse 19 that the seed is the "word of the kingdom" and the soils represent not faith and unbelief, BUT various different levels of faith within the Church for which Matthew wrote.
If we are right that Jesus is highlighting different types of response and Matthew seems to report it that way, then we ought NOT see ourselves as one OR the other! Instead we can look at our lives and see at different times that we have been like all of these!
At times I am like the path!
lacking understanding and hardened to God's word — God's speaking to me!
At times too I am like rocky ground where God is busily sowing seeds —speaking his word— and I am inspired but it quickly goes. My intentions begin well, but then fade.
Then I am the thorny weedy ground and the cares of the world choke out my concern to listen to; to be receptive and do god's will.
I am more concerned about my possessions and ambitions!
Finally, and very occasionally, I am the good soil where God's "words of the kingdom" are able to settle and grow.
Qualities of Good Soil:
Plenty of compost, old matter rotted down — life experience
Good drainage — prayer: the ability to sift
right conditions, rest, nourishment, friends, the Christian community
All mixed together, they allow the words of God's kingdom to grow to produce a harvest which is abundantly greater!