Sermons 2009
Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009

Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 68 2009                                                   Mark 4:24-36


 In Nottingham England this notice appeared in the window of a small shop:  “We have been established for over 100 years and have been pleasing and displeasing customers ever since.  We have made money and lost money.  We have had good payers and bad payers.  We have been cussed and discussed, messed with, lied to and lied about, held up, robbed, and swindled.  The only reason we stay in business is to see what happens next.  It keeps us hoping.” (1)       


And this notice could appear in the monthly newsletter of a small church in southern Northumberland County, Virginia:  We have been established for over 360 years and folks have been pleased and displeased ever since.  We have been solvent and insolvent, in magnificent brick buildings and one room wooden storehouses,  We have had good tithers and no tithers.  We have been cussed and discussed, torn down, bricks sold, communion silver sent away, disappeared and rebuilt three times.  The only reason we are still here is that God is not through with us and we want to see what God will do with us next.  It keeps us hoping.”


Small things:  small churches, small seeds, small seedlings.  Out of small things, mighty things can grow and come.


When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I came to love the Douglas fir – we see them here shipped in as Christmas trees in November each year. 


As I recall the Douglas fir does not have cones like pines – they are more like cedars in their tiny seeds.  When a cutover forest is replanted, the Douglas fir seedlings are 4- 7 inches tall.  The mature Doulas firs in the forest grow to 300 feet if left untimbered.  The tallest one measured was almost 400 feet tall. (2)  Out of small things, mighty things can grow.


Small seeds:  Seed are small and mustard seeds are among the smallest of seeds – about the size of the poppy seeds we use in baking.  Tomato seeds are small.  Tomatoes were discovered in what are now modern day Peru and Ecuador by Spanish explorers in the 16th Century, spread throughout Spanish America. and have now spread throughout the world.  From a tiny seed to a gangly plant with heavy fruit. 


At first Europeans wanted nothing to do with tomatoes.  Poorer Europeans that the tomato plant thrived on benign neglect and that one tomato plant could produce enough seeds for a large garden, yielding bushels of tomatoes, year after year after year.  The poor discovered that tomatoes could be sun dried for the winter.  And then the poor of Naples Italy cooked some tomatoes into a sauce and spread onto a staple of their diet, a thin circle of bread.  I believe we call it pizza.


And now can we possibly imagine a world without tomatoes?  Next time in the supermarket, just look at how many things result from a small tomato seed.  Out of small things, mighty things can grow and come.


70 per cent of the congregations in the Episcopal Church are small churches.  They are the tomato seeds of Christianity.  Most denominations are like this.  I think that these small churches, found in small villages and  crossroads throughout the western world, are the seeds that God uses to provide nourishment for his people.  From the seed of the small churches row the good works, the kindnesses, the witness of lives that stock the shelves of God’s supermarket, the Creation.


Seeds do better when they are tended.  The fruit on the shelves of the Creator requires nurturing, weeding, and tending.   And we are God’s gardeners – and God’s seed – in the great store of Creation.


Good gardeners are good nurturers.  They nurture what they plant.  And they are quiet nurturers for the most part.  Love of life, of the whole of Creation and the Creator, love of our neighbors, is what makes us good gardeners of both plants and the Church. 


Good gardeners know to have patience:  patience to plan ahead, to prepare the soil at harvest’s and in the spring, to order the seed in midwinter, to wait until frost danger is over.  Patience because no human planted garden can spring into full sprouting over night.  So:  patience in planning and preparing, patience in tending, patience in watering, feeding, weeding, cultivating.  Patience in just waiting for seeds to sprouts, sprouts to grow, for harvest to come.


That’s the kind of patience and nurturing small churches need to do great things, the kind of patience – and hard work – that nurtures the seed that Jesus plants for us to bring to good harvest.





1.  source unknown

2.  Illustrations for Proper 6B, Emphasis on line, CSSS publishing