A sermon/reflection for The Sixth Sunday after Trinity
The readings for this Sunday are those of Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday:
Psalm 139.1-11, 22-23
Matthew 13. 24-30, 36-43
You might like to use the link below to find the above readings for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, Year A, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use:
Collect of the day
Let us just spend a few moments in silence,
to centre ourselves,
to gather ourselves in our souls,
to come before the Lord just as we are with our joys and sorrows,
our hopes and our fears,
our loves and our pains.
Let us just focus our minds and hearts on Jesus
who is the answer for every problem.
Let us pray that the Spirit will work through our lives
to bring Christ to the world. (Silence is kept)
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Prayer before the Sermon
Loving Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the words you have given us today.
We know they are words of life and salvation.
Open our hearts Father,
touch our souls,
forgive us our sins especially our lack of faith,
help us to respond to your word.
May we know that you are our Lord and Saviour
who promises us the power from on high,
your Holy Spirit.
May we experience in our hearts
your love and your presence always.
Seeds and Weeds…
The reality of wickedness
The reality of evil and wickedness are seldom more blatantly manifested than when innocent people are brutally killed and wounded or maimed for life.
It is difficult to comprehend the terribly cruel and mindless violence that exists in the world, that stalks on our streets. Robbers, vandals, terrorists, murderers kill, steal and perpetrate violence often on innocent people. Wickedness seems to flourish in our world, in our cities. Serious and vicious evil exist in the world. It is not ‘evil’ in the abstract but there are those who have given their lives and energies to inventing and developing wickedness, profiting from it, luring others into it, and wreaking large-scale human devastation as a result.
We are shocked. We are vexed. We are distressed. What is our Christian testimony before the reality of evil and wickedness in the world?
“Why doesn’t God do something?”
This is perhaps the most frequent question that people ask christian leaders and teachers – and those of some other faiths, too. Tragedies happen. Horrific accidents devastate lives and families. Tyrants and bullies force their own plans on people and crush opposition, and they seem to get away with it. There is so much suffering, illness, death in our world!
And sensitive souls ask, again and again, why is God apparently silent? Why doesn’t he step in and stop it? Does he permit all this?
The parable of the seeds and weeds that we have heard in the gospel today is not a direct answer to the question, and probably no direct answer can be given in this life. But they show that God’s sovereign rule over the world isn’t quite such a straightforward thing as people sometimes imagine.
Based on the reality of wickedness and evil, we ask: What is God’s attitude to all these?
The farmer permits weeds and seeds to grow together seems to be a good allegory of the attitude of God considering that the farmer is neither naïve nor dumb. He is just biding his time so as to cause lesser harm to the seeds. He knows exactly what he will do at the harvest time.
God’s attitude is similar. He is neither blind, nor deaf nor dumb. He loves us as a father, but he is not a tyrant or an inquisitor either. Just think what if God were to instantly intervene, judge us and punish us for our sins and our infidelities. Like plucking the weeds immediately as they appear amidst the wheat and thus destroying good wheat as well, would we be prepared to pay the price if he intervened immediately and continuously in our lives all the time?
Losing battles but winning the war!
It looks like God prefers to eventually win the war even if that means losing some battles. He is neither a sadistic monster who happily consigns his children to eternal fire nor is he an indulgent grandparent determined to spoil the youngsters rotten by letting them do whatever they like and still giving them sweets at the end of the day. He is neither one nor the other.
Although wickedness seems to win and flourish, Jesus has clearly promised us that finally the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (May I encourage each of you to read this parable during the week at home and reflect, meditate and pray over it? Because Jesus himself has given us an explanation of the parable).
Jesus’ life and example
When we look at Jesus’ own public career it’s impossible to say that God didn’t care. He was active, deeply compassionate, battling with evil (weeds!) and defeating it – and still warning that the final overthrow of the enemy was yet to come. By his crucifixion and resurrection God has already intervened in our salvation.
When today we long for God to act, to put the world to rights, we must remind ourselves that he has already done so, and that what we are now awaiting is the full outworking of those events.
We wait with patience, not like people in a dark room wondering if anyone will ever come with a lighted candle, but like people in early morning who know that the sun has arisen and are now waiting for the full brightness of midday.
What shall we do as Christians?
The parable puts us in a quandary but does give a new dimension to our Christian life, commitment and testimony. What should we do? What about terrorists who strike at innocent people? I heard someone say some time ago: Shoot them! Kill them! That is eye for eye, tooth for tooth! Isn’t that becoming terrorists ourselves?
The Christian position is clear. Jesus says: Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you. Pray for those who persecute you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, show the other; if someone asks you to go a mile, go two miles with him; do un to others what you would like them do unto you….
The only way of winning over evil
is the way of Jesus, the way of conquering evil with the power of love. It takes time. Sometimes it is letting weeds grow with the wheat. That doesn’t mean we are naïve or dumb. It does not mean tolerating evil but being active in working for the kingdom of God like Jesus was.
It is not to cop-out but to commit oneself to Jesus and his kingdom. God needs our cooperation. We must also wait in patience, like the sower, like the woman who baking bread leavens the dough and waits for it to raise until it is all leavened…in loving faith, in loving righteousness, in loving commitment to his kingdom.
We must seek his mercy and wait in faith even when we have to bear the tension of evil and good that exists in our world. The parable of the kingdom is about waiting and that is difficult for us. The farmer waits for the harvest time watching in frustration as the weeds grow alongside the wheat.
The example of Abigail Witchells: Love and faith before evil and tragedy
Love is the only way of winning over evil. It may take time. But that is the Christian option. We probably remember the dramatic story of Abigail Witchells, that young mother who was attacked while she was walking her little son home from the play group. The assailant almost killed her but for her shouts for help. He slithered away but she was wounded in the neck that left her practically paraplegic from neck down.
Notwithstanding the brutal attack, while she was slowly and miraculously recovering from her terrible situation, she showed no shadow of hatred or vendetta for her assailant and considered herself “incredibly blessed” notwithstanding all. Her luminous attitude of faith in God and in her husband, child, her family and friends in spite of the terrible tragedy is truly a powerful Christian testimony. That is the power of the seed overcoming the weed! That is the Christian way Jesus taught us: to hold on to him with all our hearts at all times and trust him for his promise that the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.
To conclude: The Kingdom and biblical mindset – Being good seeds amidst weeds!
Being good seeds amidst weeds is what happens when the Kingdom of God is established in your heart. When the Kingdom of God is real in your life, you are ready and able to testify and witness to those around you, socially as well. Your Christian and biblical mind and heart affects and influences and transform people and society.
Finally, and crucially, the establishment of the Kingdom of God in your heart actually comes down to this one question as I said last Sunday and as I always will repeat to you and that is: Have you given your heart to Christ? When you do that you are able to survive in spite of the weeds and in spite of the evil that surrounds our lives on this earth! It’s as simple or as difficult as that!
That life decision is yours alone to make. No one else can do that for you! But when the Kingdom of God is established in your heart, the world around you will begin to change! As Frank Buchman says: “If you want to change the world, change your heart first!” The world is changed from the inside out! It begins in your heart! Jesus says: “The Kingdom of God is within you!” (Luke 17.21)
Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
Thank you for rising from the dead to give me hope
and the gift of eternal life.
I repent of my sins and invite you into heart and life
as my Lord and Saviour.
Please grant me your Holy Spirit
so that I may know you, love you
and follow you every day of my life.