Lectionary Year A
July 28, 2002
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Step VI - Contemporary Address
(JFC) A sermon from these parables might depict some of the features Jesus presents
of the kingdom of heaven.
B. Describing the Audience
(JFC) The congregation where this sermon gets preached is the one described in
previous weeks; a substantial congregation in a county seat between Kentucky's capital city and Louisville; no, Louisville is NOT the capital of Kentucky regardless of whether you pronounce it Lewis-ville or Louie-ville! Shelbyville is a very nice community of some 6,500+ people and the congregation has in access of 300 members with a good 100+ attending worship regularly. They have outstanding preaching, excellent music and good youth and children's programs run by a seminarian interning there since their DCE left last summer to go with her husband to his first call in is home state of New York.
(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Want To Go To Heaven?"
We might begin by telling the story of the Sunday School teacher who asked the class who wanted to go to heaven and all but one student raised their hands. The one explained he thought the teacher was getting up a load to go today and he wasn't ready to go just yet. It's admittedly an old joke, yet might appropriately set the stage, though.
I. The Nature Of Heaven's Kingdom, verbs in the present tense!
A. Heaven's Kingdom is here and now. It is for us and with us and within us, as well. It also is meant to include all people; the yeast leavens enough bread to feed a hundred folk! Many fish of all sorts, small and large ones, were in the net in the parable of the fishing. Some Biblical period authors see the enlarged tree sprung from the mustard seed offering a protective place safe from the sun and/or a place for many types of animals to dwell.
B. Heaven's Kingdom is almost too good to be true. It is almost impossible to describe, but Jesus tries to explain it with pictures drawn from ordinary life experiences. He declares that the fishermen's net catches the good and the less than ideal fish together. Goppelt calls it a corpus mixtum, referring to the tares among the wheat in Matthew 13:36-43). Jesus died for us all and calls all to follow and to serve for the sake of the whole world. Jesus invites us all into God's Kingdom, the Church, as Jeremias says it is.
II. Home-grown Products
A. Surely everyone in the crowds to whom Jesus told these parables understood the figures he used - the mustard seed, the yeast, the fields, etc. We know these figures, too, without doubt. The images they conjure up tell definite stories to our imaginations.
B. Those early listeners to these stories also must have comprehended the processes He declares the subjects going toward their goals - growing, expanding, enlarging, being valued, etc. Even lesser significant entities broaden, widen, deepen spiritually as they/we develop. Such processes might bring a new you and a new me, too, which can bring joy.
III. Expanding The Panorama
A. The gifts with which God endows us have far reaching consequences, as did the mustard seed, the wheat, etc. "Insignificant beginning and magnificent end", as Schweizer terms it, might describe a vision of our journeys toward faithful maturity!
B. As we consider gifts with which God endows us, we might envision how they might grow to benefit more and more people at home and abroad. Dare we think of amplifying to get at some aiding in some transformation of terrorists' misbehavior?
God invites us to participate as citizens of the realm of heaven here on earth and in our own lifetimes. It is a good environ in which to live and to associate with our God and one another the world over. It is a blessed place to be. It brings great joy to reside here and to be an active citizen of this realm where God reigns. Jeremias describes this joy as, ". . . that great joy, surpassing all measure, . . The effect of the joyful news is overpowering; it fills the heart with gladness; it makes life's whole aim the consummation of the divine community . . ." Does it for us? Might it do so more when we realize how happily being in God's Kingdom moves us to enjoy it?
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