Sermons 2008

LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 12A 2008 Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Parables. Today’s parables are Kingdom parables. They were the way Jesus taught his disciples and the crowds who showed up whenever he sat down to teach. The parables in this section of Matthew are chains of multiple images interconnected to, or associated with, each other in some fashion or another. They are like the kaleidoscopes that still can fascinate children both young and old. In a kaleidoscope, the same pieces are used over and over again, but even the slightest change in the position of the pieces relative to each other will create a new pattern and a new moment of perception.

In today’s gospel the chain of parables moves in succession through metaphors of mustard seed, yeast in the dough, treasure hidden in a field, the pearl of great value, and the catch in a fishing net. Our perceptions are intensified as the images pile rapidly on top of each other. In each parable we are not told what the kingdom of heaven IS. We are told what the kingdom is LIKE.

One LIKE is that the kingdom of heaven has to do with ordinary daily activities. In ancient Palestine fishing and bread baking and farming and buying and selling were daily activities except on the Sabbath. Aspects of the kingdom are as obvious as the growing mustard tree and the rising bread and the fish in the net. And sometimes the kingdom seems to follow natural law: seeds growing, bread rising, fish swimming.

At other times human industry seems involved: baking bread, planting seed, digging up the treasure, buying the pearl of great price, casting nets..

The striking thing about the parables is their essential hiddeness: the mustard seed hidden in soil, the yeast in the dough, the treasure in the field, the pearl among all the other pearls, the net and fish in the depths of the sea.

If the kingdom is like these, then the kingdom is something not readily apparent, even though it may be all around us and very near to us – even within us. The kingdom is something that must be searched for, just below the surface of things, waiting there to be discovered and claimed, something we must train our eyes and hearts and minds and souls to see.

That’s what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus tells us. Whether it begins as a seed hidden in the ground or a treasure hidden in a field, the kingdom comes when it is no longer buried and hidden, but revealed, when the tree is full grown, when the treasure chest is opened, when what was lost was found, and what was secret is known and what was hidden away is finally seen for what it really is.

But where do we start looking for the hidden kingdom of heaven? If it’s hidden in this world, it is hidden really well. Unless God has played the oldest trick in the book and hidden it in plain sight, in the last place any of us would look – in the ordinary things and events and circumstances of our daily lives: the extraordinary hidden as the ordinary, all mixed in with the routine of our days, as easy to find as the rising sun or the waking smile of a child or grand child or great grand child, or the first good rain after a long drought – all of them signs of the kingdom of heaven, all of them clues to the holiness hidden in the dullest of our days.

That’s why Jesus talked about heaven in terms of farmers and fields and women baking bread and merchants buying and selling and fisherman hauling in fish in nets – to tell us somehow that the kingdom of heaven has to do with all these things, not exotic things in exotic places but in all the ordinary people and places and activities of our lives.

These parables surprise us with their mystery and its simplicity. They caution us to pay attention. Whatever else we may learn from them, we learn to pay great attention: the kingdom may already be among us; we’ll miss it if we don’t look closely at what is around us. That’s why Jesus said that it’s “like” things in our daily lives.

If we want to speak of heavenly things, Jesus seems to tell us, we must begin with earthly things. If we want to describe something vast beyond all words, we must begin with words we know: man, woman, field, seed, yeast, bird, air, bread; words such as pearl, net, sea, fish, joy.

The kingdom is like these things, the kingdom is
in and all around us. These are the places to begin looking: this is where the God who loves us sowed the seeds. If we stop and look and listen, we can see the seeds of the kingdom growing everywhere we turn on earth.

If we cannot find them here we will never find them anywhere else, for earth is where the seeds of heaven are sown.


Drawn in part from InterNet and other sources: eSermons, Selected Sermons, Lectionary Homiletics, SermonMall, Sunday Sermons, Pulpit Resource, Minister’s Annual Manuals.