“The heart – The Seed – The Kingdom of God”

A brief sermon/reflection for Second Sunday after Trinity Year B – 2021

The readings for this Sunday are for those of Trinity 2:

  • 1 Samuel 15.34 – 16.3

  • Psalm 20

  • 2 Corinthians 5. 6-10, (11-13), 14-17

  • Mark 4. 26-34

You might like to use the link below to find the above readings, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use: http://www.katapi.org.uk/CommonWorship/CWLectionarySelV.php

Collect of the day

Let us first 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

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

OR

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Post Communion

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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.

Amen.

A homily based on the readings of today is given below:

“The heart – The Seed – The Kingdom of God”

Prayer followed by a story of faith (Testimony)

Introduction: The heart and the seed tell us about the Kingdom of God

The Word of God speaks to us today.
All the three readings are very special and are connected.
Please read them again if you can in your home bibles.

There are two words, like symbols, like images, that stand apart in the Word of God today. The first is what we heard in the first reading from the OT, the first book of Samuel, the symbol and image of the heart.

The second is in the gospel of Mark this morning, the symbol/image of a seed.

Both these images/symbols have a lot to tell us about the Kingdom of God.  What is the Kingdom of God? How does the Kingdom of God grow?

1. The Heart

The first image of the Kingdom of God is the heart. We have an example of it in the first reading of today in the context of the story of King Saul, young David, prophet Samuel and the family of Jesse all in the context of the story of Israel the People of God.

In the first reading from the Book of Samuel, we see a King and a Kingdom in decline. King Saul was a great king of Israel but ended up as a tragic disaster when he turned his heart away from God. This is what happens when we turn away from God. This is what happens when a nation turns away from God. Without God we are nothing and we lose our bearings!

So the prophet Samuel is asked by God to anoint a new king. “You shall anoint for me the one whom I name you.” (1 Sam 16.3) It was a risky business because King Saul was still alive. When you do God’s work it is not always plain sailing. As we read in the 2nd reading read by Hugh this morning, “We walk by faith not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5.7)

Prophet Samuel is asked to make a sacrifice to God, but his real goal is to anoint a new king for Israel. He is led to the family of Jesse and each one of his offspring, all young men, are paraded before the prophet Samuel. The Lord spoke through the prophet Samuel these extraordinary words as we see in verse 7: But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16.7)

We are also reminded of Jesus’ words to Simon the Pharisee when Mary Magdalene came in and washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair and anointed the feet. At Simon’s protestations in his heart, Jesus said: “Her sins which are many are forgiven her because she has loved much.” The Lord sees the heart of a human being not at the external deeds or accomplishments or position in society.

David the youngest son of Jesse who is absent because he is minding sheep is is called for, brought, chosen and anointed king of Israel by the prophet. (verses 12 and 13)  “’Rise and anoint him; fir this is the one.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16. 12-13) When a person is anointed in the Lord’s name, a person is set apart and equipped by the Holy Spirit for His work. God saw integrity and humility in the heart of David.

It is what goes on in your heart, your thoughts, your affections, your desires, your longings, your intentions, your perceptions, your understandings, your decisions, your prayers, your silences where the Kingdom of God grows or dies. Jesus says in Matthew 5.8: “Blessed are the pure of heart; they shall see God.” “The Kingdom of God is within you.”(Luke 17.21 )

Just like the physical heart is so central to our physical body and its functions, we need to take care of our heart as a spiritual centre as well. The heart as the spiritual centre of our lives is where the Kingdom of God is established and grows. We need to tend both our physical heart as well as our spiritual heart.

2. The Seed

The second image of the Kingdom of God is the seed as we heard in the gospel of Mark today, chapter 4. Verses 26-34. But the crucial verse is this: “The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground.” (verse 26)

We know a lot about seeds as we all have sowed seeds in our garden or elsewhere. The seed once sown lies under the soil in silence and darkness and then sprouts and grows as a plant or three until the time of harvest. Even the smallest of seeds, the mustard seed, grows into a shrub nearly a meter high where the birds can find shade and shelter. The Kingdom of God is like that.

The seed of faith that is sown in your heart at Baptism grows in silence, invisibly and then sprouts into a life for God and People. The Kingdom of God is like that. The seed of faith that is sown in the heart is nourished by prayer, the word of God and the testimony of a genuine Church. Take the example of saints or Christians we know of. Take the example of our dear Jill Priddy. The seed of faith in Christ sown in her heart sprouted and grew in her life until it became like a big plant where we all found shade, shelter, solace, comfort and inspiration.

In another parable, Jesus spoke about the sower going out to sow; some seeds falling on the dry ground, some seeds falling on the rocks, some seeds falling on brambles, but some seeds falling on good soil that produces a good harvest.

You have the seed of faith in your heart. That is where the Kingdom of god grows. How is your heart? Is it good soil for the seed like that of young David? Is your heart given over to God so God can work in you?

King Saul’s heart turned away from God and to himself. He forgot God. But David’s heart was innocent, upright, humble, obedient, unsullied and pure and God blessed him mightily.

3. The image of the heart and the seed speaks to us of the Kingdom of God.

And as we heard in the second reading, if we give our lives to Christ, we become a new creation, the old is gone; behold the new is come. (Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The Kingdom of God happens when you are with Christ, when you believe in him and give your heart to him, when your heart is with God. That is when the seed of faith sprouts and grows into a plant and tree.

Take care of your heart. Treasure the seed of faith you have received. May your heart be good soil for the seed of faith to grow by being submissive and obedient to God and His will and commandments. The grace of God and the Holy Spirit will do the rest! As Jesus also tells in the gospel: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all else will be yours as well.” (cf. Mt 6.33, Lk 12.31)

Let us pray:

Father, thank you for your son Jesus Christ.
Thank you for sending him to us as our saviour,
as our healer, as our hope for life.
Father, forgive us for our lack of love and our lack of faith.
We are so weak and we are so indifferent.
We go our own ways, doing our own things
and we hardly care to build our lives around you and on you.
We are quite lost and confused most of the time, Father.
We now give you our lives in to your hands.
We say ‘Amen’, ‘yes’ to you
and we accept you as our Lord and as our Saviour.
In the name of Jesus your son, we pray,

Amen.

A further Prayer you can say now:

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.

Amen.

[Revd Dr ST Mattapally, Rector, Springline Parish, Diocese of Lincoln]