Category: Sermon

From Little Things, Big Things Grow ~ The Rev. Brenden Humberdross, Novice

Lord God, we thank you for the gift of your word in scripture; as we contemplate the meaning of the gospel for this day may your spirit open our hearts and our minds to those messages you would have us hear. Amen.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Mt 9)

This scripture wasn’t in our reading today but I wanted to share it as it includes the recorded words of Christ just before he calls the twelve and sends them out. I want you all to take a minute to contemplate the words of this short passage of scripture…do the conditions mentioned feel familiar?

As I contemplated the gospel reading for today and read further to discover this passage it came to my mind that Christ could have very well been speaking to us. We live in a day where the world is calling out for the transforming truth and love of Christ to heal its wounds. However, when I survey the world around me I see such confusion and turmoil, not only in the secular world but within the Christian world as well.

Christendom, which had such a promising beginning, filled with truth loving communities bound together under the leadership of the Apostles and their successors the Bishops, now finds itself in a fractured state. Instead of standing together in faith and love the so called “shepherds” of much of the Christian world stand in opposition to each other having shed much of that faith once delivered to the Saints and preserved by our Holy Mother the Church Catholic.

In such a condition is it any wonder that there is a rising secularism in the Western World that rejects all things of faith, not only Christianity, but faith in general? What is it that we, can do? Should those of you “in the pews” do anything at all or does this duty rest on those of us called to the ministry?

Let me tell you that each and every one of us are called to be one of the workers in the Vineyard. When we passed through the waters of baptism becoming joined with Christ in his magnificent family, we committed not only to follow His teachings but to hold them in our hearts and be every ready to share them with those around us.

In today’s gospel reading we see this message writ large in the mission call to the Apostles. They were called by Christ to go out and preach to the community. They were called to teach, to convert, and to heal those who were receptive of the message of Christ.

Now I am sure that many of you right now are thinking things like “but I’m not an Apostle”…”I can’t possible convert anyone”…”I’m not going knocking on doors or preaching on the street corner”…

Well let me tell you that each and every one of you stand ready right now to go into the vineyard and teach the word of God and heal a broken world. No special training is needed, no awesome spiritual insight, or perfect nature is necessary. Instead all you need to do is walk your life hand in hand with Christ and be a visible beacon of what it means to be a Christian.

In my secular life I’m a school teacher, and while I have never used that platform as a means of “conversion” or “preaching” at my colleagues and students they are all acutely aware that I am Fr. Brenden and what that means. When issues arise I’m not afraid to let my “Christian flag fly”.

When teaching my science classes I happily dispel misconceptions students have around Christian belief and open their minds to the idea that faith and science are not mutually exclusive. Often this is not done in an overt way by simply by showing that a person of faith can also be a person of reason and science.

In the staffroom questions of morality and belief often come up around the lunch table and when they do my voice is always ready to share what the truths of the gospel are and the moral insight of Christ and His Message.

It is in these simple things that the Christian faith and love of Christ are spread; from these simple instances of sharing what it is to be a Christian (without being “preachy”) comes great change in people’s lives. These conversations and opportunities plant the seeds of hope and faith within hearts. After all, in the words immortalised by Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly “from little things big things grow”.

While each and every one of us could be called to literally walk forward into the world and preach the gospel in a radical way, I believe that it is through these small almost invisible acts of “faith sharing” that the transformative love of God will spread the light and love of Christ inti the world in real and tangible ways.

So, I want to challenge each and every one of us to leave this place invigorated in our faith and prepared to share the Christian faith that lay inside of us. Boldly walk forward in the world and be an example in thought, word, and action and help heal a broken humanity.

Let us pray:

O Lord, grant to us the insight that we may know and understand those things that we have been called to do. Walking in the light of your Spirit may we also have the grace and power to faithfully accomplish your will in all things; grant us the courage to always stand as examples of your love and truth. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Called To Be Free ~ The Rev. Dcn Dollie Wilkinson, OPI

Most Americans can give a short explanation on why we celebrate the Fourth of July or how the holiday came about. As children, we are taught this very important history lesson in school. Way back in the 18th century the United States was not considered the United States. In fact, what we now call states were actually called colonies. The United States was actually an extension of England, so people would travel from England aboard ships to settle in America.

When the colonies were first settled they were allowed to pretty much develop freely without hardly any interface from Britain, but things abruptly changed in 1763. Britain suddenly decided that they needed to take more control over the colonies, and that the colonies needed to return revenue to the mother country and to pay for the colonies defense, which was being provided by Britain. But the colonies did not agree with these new rules at all. They felt that since they were not represented in Parliament that they shouldn’t have to pay any kinds of taxes to the mother country, hence the saying “no taxation without representation”?. When Britain continued to tax, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress to persuade the British government to recognize their rights. When this didn’t work, war was declared – The American Revolution.

After the First Continental Congress failed to persuade Britain to recognize the colonies’ rights, and war was declared, things began to heat up. Many people decided that enough was enough and that any kind of taxation without representation was considered tyranny. People such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin, as well as a group called the Sons of Liberty decided that it was time to unite all of the colonies and to stand together against Britain. During the course of the American Revolution a second Continental Congress was formed. It is this group that adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. All thirteen colonies stood behind the Declaration of Independence and adopted in full on July 4, 1776.

This is where the Fourth of July holiday comes in. The Fourth of July is known as Independence Day because that is the day that the Second Continental Congress adopted the full and formal Declaration of Independence. Even though we had declared that we were independent, the American Revolution was still being fought, which meant that we were still not independent. Regardless of the ongoing war the following year, the people in Philadelphia still celebrated a muted Fourth of July. While celebrations on July 4th during the American Revolution were modest, after the war ended in 1783 the Fourth of July became a holiday in many places. The celebrations included speeches, military events, parades, and fireworks. To this day the Fourth of July is the most patriotic holiday celebrated in the United States.

And though we are now declared independent from England, it would take many years with more wars, protests, rallies, sit-ins, for American citizens to be declared free. But we are a long way still from every person to feel completely free. There are those in our country, whose motto is, “Home of the Free, Land of the Brave”, who are being made to feel inferior, less an American, due to their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or even sadly income levels.

During all of the political drama, in the past and now, I wonder how many of us seek guidance in God’s Word? Our Christian elders certainly knew something about independence and freedom. Here are just a few passages I found in the Bible, that should serve as a guide for those seeking freedom.

John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Luke 4:18–19 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

John 8:31–32 – “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”


John 8:36 – “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Galatians 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Galatians 5:13–14 – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”


James 1:25 – “But who so looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

1 Peter 2:15–16 – “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

How many of us take certain freedoms for granted? I believe the most important freedom we should fight for is the freedom to worship the one true God. By always following His Word, trusting in a loving and faithful Lord, and extending this love to all whom we meet, freedom isn’t just a word on paper, but something we all can eventually know.
As an American, I have enjoyed many, many anniversary celebrations of my country’s declaration of independence. I pray that I, and you dearhearts, will always remember to thank God Almighty for the certain inalienable rights that He has given to us, especially the freedom and liberty that we have in these great United States of America.

Independence Day Prayer

Lord,

We stand today as our forefathers have stood before You in times gone by,
Celebrating our history and revelling in all the great things that our country has achieved.
On this day we rejoice in the favor You have graciously given us.
We thank You for the blessings of liberty, for this generation and for the generations to come.
We thank You for our independence, peace and for all those who have bravely given their lives in the defence of freedom and justice.
We thank You that Your gracious and provident hand has given us so much.

Yet as a nation and people we have not always chosen the right way.
We ask You to forgive us for these times.
On this day we commit ourselves to wholeheartedly honoring and serving You.
With everything that we are, we lay our lives before You.
Make us a generous people,
A holy nation,
A people set aside to love You forever,
For the sake of the land of the brave and free, 
And the peoples and nations of this world.

Today, we do not presume Your grace for our country. 
Our land is in need of You, 
Our people are in need of You,
Our industry and business is in need of You.
May we look only to You
This Independence Day, dependent on You.

Please come now by Your glorious Holy Spirit,
Breathe new life into the sinews of this nation.
May justice flow like rivers,
And righteousness like a never failing stream,
Until the whole of our country is covered with Your glory,
As the waters cover the sea.

We ask all this in the wonderful name of Jesus,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit.
One God, now and for all eternity.
Amen.



 


Don’t Doubt It! The Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle ~The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

1st Reading: EPH 2: 19-22.

R Psalm: PS 117: 1BC-2.

Gospel: JN 20: 24-29.

Today we come together to celebrate the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas was born in Galilee in the Roman Empire in the 1st Century AD.

Thomas is said to have travelled outside of the Roman Empire, preaching the Gospel as one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. He also has the nickname of ‘doubting Thomas’, because as it tells us in today’s Gospel reading of JN 20:24-29, Thomas had doubts at first when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and had indeed appeared to the other Apostles, saying, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (V. 25). But when Jesus appeared to him later and invited him to touch his wounds and behold him, Thomas finally showed his belief by saying, “My Lord and My God.” (V. 28). Jesus then told him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” (V. 29).

Haven’t we all had doubts at some point in our life of faith just like Thomas? The true fact is that we are human and nobody in this life has a faith which is perfect. But our imperfect faith is always able to continue to bloom and deepen.

There are many things which at times we could doubt just as Thomas did about things of our faith lives. Maybe it could be doubts about our salvation, or doubt about God’s love for us- especially in times of suffering, illness or hardship. Maybe we may doubt the reliability of the holy word of God in the scriptures sometimes- this can happen in the world we are in that sadly, often, misinterprets the word for their own agenda thereby possibly causing confusion.

However, having times of doubt does not mean that we have lost our faith, we can use our times of doubt to by trusting God, to build a type of bridge that can lead to stronger faith.

In ministry, we are bound to come across those with doubts in parts of their faith life. We should consider the following when dealing with this:

1. We should have mercy on those who are doubting. We are told in Jude 22, to “have mercy on those who doubt.” It is far too easy for us to fall into the trap of judging them, of condemning them, or to see them as being less Christian than ourselves. However, if we have mercy on doubters, we are there for them. We can and ought to comfort them and build them up.

2. We must be prepared to live with mystery: As humans, there are times when we expect the answers to everything and to know all full understanding of God before we are totally willing to commit our entire lives to him. Yes, God has revealed to us much, and there is much we are able to understand, but there are also those things that we cannot begin to comprehend that belong to God alone, as we are told in (Deut 29:29). We merely need to trust God entirely and to use that which we do understand to be enough for us to rest in God with the things beyond our comprehension.

3. We shouldn’t give doubt the courtesy that we do not give to our faith. If we are able to doubt, then surely we should be able to doubt those doubts and to question them in our hearts. As Christians we can be sure that doubt will never outweigh the central truths of our faith which we do comprehend. Yes, doubts may be a pesky nuisance that pesters us, but if we learn to question our doubts, never should these be able to overthrow our faith.

If we return to Jude 22, which as we have already discussed, about having mercy on those who doubt, it matters not whether that doubt is with ourselves or in our brothers and sisters. It goes for both equally, it says have mercy and so let us do so.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, the light of your love shines on, illuminating the places where you are present. As the bewildered Apostle Thomas heard of your appearance to the other Apostles, you penetrated the darkness of his doubt with your word of peace. You showed Thomas the appalling marks of your sacrifice for us, you opened his mind and his heart to understand and to believe. Increase our understanding, we pray, and open our minds and hearts to receive you Lord. Speak to us your word of peace and let your love shine on any dark or doubting areas of our faith in you.

In your precious name we pray. Amen.

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The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ Br. Igor Kalinski, OPI (Translated from the Macedonian)

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Written from The Dominican Hermitage, The Oratory of Saint Sebastian and Saint Peregrine in Gevgelija, Macedonia

The Readings for Today:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070118.cfm

13 Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the book of Wisdom we read verse 113-15 and 2:23-24 “Because God did not wake death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living, for he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of neither world on earth for justice is undying.

Comparing this with another verse in today’s readings we find we are told something else about death: that all that who have possessions, experience it. We are made from God to be similar like him, imperishable, image of his own nature, and death that he did not make, neither does he rejoice for our destruction but His justice is undying, He God is the ultimate justice, eternally living, and all who experienced death as a result of our sin, will be a moment even though physically sanctified will go back in destruction. All of these what God has promised us the believers after death, and what can the wicked expect, and what we have to expect from undying justice, our Lord Jesus Christ, and after our sufferings is a reward, that’s why we have to love the justice and wisdom.

Now as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in love we have for you, you may excel in this gracious act also”

We learn about Macedonians, from their giving , and that is the grace from God, that has been giving to the churches in Macedonia for the severe test of affection, the abundance of their joy and generosity, this is true example with love for one another brings immediate help to those afflicted of any kind of problem “ As is written whoever had much did not have woke, and whoever had much did not have less”

This is the way that help you decide what cause need immediate attention with equality principle, and this principle say about getting your own needs met. The test of generosity toward our povery, will not make us lazy and bored or with no lack of help, that principle reveal generosity, helping your neighbor we help ourselves, we bring help to those in need, and when our turn to be afflicted, God is bringing someone to help us. Jesus is rich Son of God that passes everything, and he chose to be born in barn, and to live in poverty “to test the genuineness of your love by your concerns for others”, this is the way, first we pray for the hungry, than we feed them.

Jairus the synagogue ruler, feel at Jesus feet and begged him to heal his 12 years old daughter.

When was my last time that I feel at Jesus feet, I was asking myself, from the every beginning of this story that occurred, I was attacked from the first sentence, to kneel in Gods presence in a way of kneeling with your mind, with your heart, with your thoughts, what I always try to do, but this kneeling with my body, this sinful body, that is made to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, this really gave me attention to contemplate, and that in the room with the dead girl, only Peter, James and John were allowed to enter and to witness this miracle, this simple problem for Jesus, to bring back the life, as a giver of eternal life, this shows the divinity of Christ, none is capable to do such a thing than God Almighty in presence of his son Jesus our Lord, and the three apostles represent Peter the faith, James the hope and John the love, in this I see the first image, story from the Gospel, like a holy sacrament of anointing the sick, but in this case resurrection of dead body. Jesus is giver of life, everything is possible in his name. Amen.

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Strength, Faith, and Determination: The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul ~ The Rev. Shawn Gisewhite, OPI

In the name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two of the most influential men in Christianity.  Peter, the rock on which Christ built His Church and Paul, the converted persecutor of Christians turned missionary.  As Christians, we can look at the lives and deaths of these great men as a model of how we are to live and possibly die for Christ.

Let us look at each of these men individually.

Peter, known originally as Simon, was the brother of Andrew.  Both fishermen by trade, they later became “fishers of men.”  Andrew, having discovered Jesus as the Messiah through John the Baptist, ran home to tell his brother Simon of the good news.  Simon meets Jesus who instructs the brothers to lay down their nets and follow Him.  A command the Bible tells us they obeyed without even a second thought.  Simon’s faith is later tested by Jesus as he walks on water and then denies Jesus three times.  In the end, Jesus tells Simon that from now on his name shall be Peter (meaning Petros or Rock) and on this “rock” He shall build His Church.

After Pentecost, Peter traveled to Antioch where he established a church which he ruled from 33AD to roughly 39AD.  Peter goes on to travel all over the Roman Empire in what is now Turkey.  He arrived in Rome in 40AD and remained there for the next quarter century.  In 51 AD Peter returned to Jerusalem for the Council in which it was decided Gentiles need not adhere to the customs and regulations of Judaism.  It was at this council that Peter and Paul not only meet, but butted heads.  Paul rebukes Peter publicly over the subject of Gentile Christians.  These two would meet again in Rome in 67AD.

Paul, originally known as Saul, was a Roman citizen and a Pharisee.  As such, Saul was a leader of Christian persecution.  One day Saul has a blinding vision, a conversion moment in which his heart is turned to Christ.  He is baptized and becomes one of Christianity’s most fervent missionaries.  Now known as Paul, he preaches the Gospel to the ends of the world.  First to Arabia then back to Damascus.  Then to Jerusalem where he visits Peter for the first council.  From Jerusalem he travels throughout Europe, including Macedonia, Greece and Italy.

While preparing for a missionary trip to Spain, he is imprisoned for 2 years by the Jews in Capernium.  Paul later travels again, but his ship wrecks in Malta.  He is imprisoned once again.  This time for 2 years for preaching in Rome.  Paul was arrested a third and final time in 67 AD in Rome.

Although both Apostles of Christ, these two men ministered independent of each other.  In the end, there were two people who linked their fates one with the other; Simon Magus and the Emperor Nero.

Simon Magus was a practitioner of black magic.  A sorcerer if you will.  Offering to pay the Apostles to give him the gift to confer upon others the Holy Spirit, Simon Magus is rebuked and ran out of the Middle East by Philip.  Now bitter and more determined than ever to show his power over that of these so called “Christians,” Simon Magus takes his show on the road all the way to Rome.  There he meets Emperor Nero.  Besides being an all-around bad guy, Nero has a strong desire to be a sorcerer.  He appoints Simon Magus to his court and aims to learn all he can from him.  In order to show his superior power, Simon Magus decides to recreate the ascension of Jesus by flying around in the sky.  Simon Magus does so with the help of demonic spirits.  That is until the prayers of two men cause the sorcerer to come crashing to the pavement at Nero’s feet.  His legs crushing on impact, Simon Magus dies of his wounds a few days later.  Who were these men who caused the death of Nero’s sorcerer?  None other than Peter and Paul who were both in Rome preaching the Good News of Christ Jesus.

Nero, who had begun a city-wide persecution of Christians, was furious over the death of his sorcerer by these leaders of the Christian movement.  Fellow believers pleaded with Peter to flee Rome and save his life.  Although he was determined to remain in Rome and suffer persecution alongside his followers, Peter gives in and heads out of town.  During all of this, Paul is now incarcerated in Rome.  When he comes to the city gate, Peter has a vision.  He sees Christ walking into the city.  Peter asks Jesus where he is going, to which he replied, “I go into Rome to be crucified again.”  Peter, understanding the meaning of the vision, returns to Rome where he is imprisoned alongside Paul.

While in prison, Peter and Paul convert the Captains of the guard and 47 others.  Eventually on June 29th, 67 AD Peter and Paul’s lives come to an end.  Peter is taken outside the city gates where he is crucified upside down.  Paul, being a Roman citizen, does not face crucifixion.  Instead, he is beheaded.  Tradition is that his head bounced 3 times down the pavement, and at each place a spring sprang up from the ground.

Looking at the lives and deaths of these great men, we can find the strength, determination and faith to carry on the great mission to preach the Gospel unto the ends of the world, even in the face of persecution and death.  Like Peter, we are to give up everything to follow Christ when he calls us.  This may not be an easy task.  After all, we worked long and hard for that new car, that big house, and to secure the perfect job.  It is hard to give up everything and go where the Lord leads.  It is equally hard to walk out into the deep, trusting in the Lord that we will not sink.  Like Peter walking on the water, so are we to have faith strong enough keep us afloat.  Like Paul, no matter how hardened our hearts are, we can turn to love and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Even when imprisoned and on a sinking ship, Paul didn’t let anything stand in the way of him carrying out his missionary duties.  No matter how bleak the situation or how tall the obstacle, we must remain strong in our faith and push on.

Remember these men when we feel that it is impossible for one person to make a difference.  Remember them when we are persecuted for our faith. Remember them when we see Christians around the world martyred for their beliefs.  When our own faith is shaken and we feel like the world is against us, remember Sts. Peter and Paul and ask them for guidance and look to their examples for the strength to go on.

Amen.

 

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Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord! The Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Liturgical Colour: White.

1st Reading: IS 49:1-6

R Psalm: PS 139: 1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15.

2nd Reading: ACTS 13: 22-26

Gospel: LK 1: 57-66, 80.

 

Today we briefly take a step away from Ordinary Time, to come together to Commemorate the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist.

John was the forerunner sent to pave the way for the coming of the Lord. If we take a look at today’s first reading of IS 49: 1-6, we are told:

The Lord called me from birth from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm: You are my servant, he said to me, through whom I show my glory…to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

We can clearly see from this scripture that the Lord wants to save his people, he wishes to restore us and to raise us up. However, it was (and is), a necessity to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord into the world. This was the purpose as to John the Baptist being sent as the forerunner, to prepare the people for his coming.

At the heart of preparation of the people for the coming of the Lord, was (and still is) repentance, as we can clearly see in this scripture of Matt 3:1:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near! Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.

But what does to repent truly mean? It is far too easy for us to believe that it merely means that we are sorry for our sins! To truly repent is far more than this, it is to come to a new mind, to have a whole new way of thinking and to put the Lord as our first priority, foregoing worldly notions to gain heavenly wisdom and readiness.

So how is all this relevant to us today?

If we look at John the Baptist, we can and should also learn about ourselves in terms of our duties and service as ministers of God. Just as John was, we ought to be steeped in God’s word, and in the true teachings of the church. We should announce to all what God reveals to us and to see all things through his light. We are to summon God’s people to the truth if all that God proclaims, and to expose lies and errors for what they are, Just as John did in his ministry.

Just as John the Baptist was the forerunner sent to prepare the way for the Lord coming amongst us on the earth, we are now like John before us, the forerunners who are sent to prepare the people for the return of the Lord in glory, so that all will be ready and well adjusted to the radiance of the salvation of the Lord’s love, and will be conformed to be as suitable as is possible for His heavenly Kingdom. In short, we are the John the Baptist’s of the modern age.

 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, by whose Providence thy servant John the Baptist was born and sent to prepare the people for the coming of your Son, our Saviour, by preaching repentance. Make us also follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent and following his example, to prepare the way for the second coming of your Son, our Lord and Saviour, only speaking the truth of your word and rebuking all else, and to patiently accept suffering for your Truth’s sake, to your glory.

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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How Does Your Garden Grow? ~ The Rev. Dcn. Brenden Humberbdross, Novice

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable to you O Lord, our God and our Creator. Amen.

This Sunday’s gospel reading consists of two parables, one more well-known than the other.
The second parable in the reading is the parable of the Mustard Seed which is found in three of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Due to its occurring in the Synoptic Gospels it’s quite likely you would have heard a sermon or at least read this parable before. I know in Sunday School and youth programs when I was younger it was a part of lessons and talks on more than one occasion.

The first parable in the reading, which goes by numerous names depending on which version of the Bible you are using is far less familiar and so is what I am going to focus my thoughts on today.

In this parable we see Jesus relating a story to his audience about a man scattering seed and the resultant process of a seed growing to maturity. With our modern understandings this may seem an odd story for Jesus to be conveying to a crowd who is asking to hear great messaged of faith. However, as with all parables Jesus was sharing the great truths of the Gospel in a unique was that both allowed listener to learn if they were true seekers but also to hide the truth behind a curtain of allegory for those who may not be ready for the higher things of the Gospel.

In this case, this seemingly simple story about seeds growing relates a message of what the Kingdom of God is. This may raise the question for us all what is meant by this term “Kingdom of God”. Depending on your theological stand point this term can evoke many different images; for some it refers to the heavenly kingdom of God on high, to others an earthy Kingdom that will be ruled over personally by Christ when he returns. It’s impossible to say that any of these views are more correct that others however, speaking as catholic and orthodox Christians the Kingdom of God refers to the whole of God’s dealing with humankind, in other words the entire plan of salvation. So how is the story of a man growing seeds able to express this?

In this particular case we can view the man who plants the seeds as Jesus Christ, while the seed is the Gospel itself. Jesus walked upon the earth and while he was here his mission was to spread the Gospel to his people for the redemption of humanity. This message culminated in the great sacrifice of Christ upon the cross of Calvary and this is represented by the man falling asleep and his waking refers to his glorious resurrection.

This then leads to the question that if the man is Christ and the seeds the Gospel how can Christ not know the process by which the seeds grow? Doesn’t God know all and have all in his control and at his command? This is most certainly a fact that cannot be in doubt and this “not knowing” does not indicate a lack of knowledge but in fact refers to a letting go to allow fallen humanity to use their free will to accept the Gospel and let it grow within their hearts and minds. Christ is not a manipulator of men and never seeks to coerce any of God’s children into service.
After the seed the man plants grows it is quite a natural conclusion to the story that he would want to harvest the field and gain benefit from what he has planted and grown. In the plan of salvation it’s obvious to me that this harvest refers to the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

When a farmer harvests their crop not all of that which is harvested is fit for use and makes it to market and thus it will be at the great harvest which shall be performed at Christ’s coming. Each and every one of us will be judged in the harvest and our reception of the gospel and the way that we have tended to the seed of faith that was planted in us will indicate our reward in the world that is to come.

It is my hope and prayer that each and every one of us will tend to the seed that we hold within us and grown in the faith and love of Christ. If we do this we will work hard to be fellow workers with Christ tending to the field alongside him assisting God’s children with their needs both temporal and spiritual.

Please join me now in a word of prayer. Let us pray:
Lord God, you protect all who trust in you, and without you nothing is strong and nothing is holy:
In your great mercy guide us through the good things of this life, so that in the end we do not lose the things of eternal life. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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