notre dame montreal

Sermon on Matthew Chapter 13:24-30  36-43

By John Ayers 17 July 2005

Seeds of the Kingdom

Seeds of the Kingdom – Matthew 13: 24-30 and 36-43

Last weekend I went with my wife to the RHS Hampton Court Flower show. The sights, colours, the floral displays were really outstanding, there was so much to see and to take in. Everything that was presented from the gardens to the displays were of the best and of course trying to win those converted certificates. It is also true to say that most of what was on show all came from individual seeds. Seeds often so small that when you drop them into the ground these disappear – yet if cared for not allowed to dry out – not over watered – heated right, they will germinate and grow. Then when fully grown into glorious flower there are seeds for the next year, But on the way to full growth there are plenty of opportunities for disaster, stunted grow, disease and damage, not all seeds or plants fulfil their full potential,

The parable of the sower contains the realism of life. The kingdom of heaven can come into a person’s life through something as relatively tiny as a seed: a very small kindly action, a brief word of encouragement, an insight shared leading to a moment of seeing things differently. I have already suggested dangers that seeds face in growing. We might also keep in mind that seeds grow in their own time and space. Those of us who have children or grandchildren and encouraged them to plant seeds, know that they are soon digging them up to see how they are growing. Only time brings things to maturity. Similarly, the parables suggest, we cannot hurry the growth of the kingdom; after a seed has been sown people need time and, given that all that may go wrong, they need tender care and support. Development in faith, in a loving God, our neighbour and ourselves takes time

This realism helps us to see the importance of patient support and pastoral care of people. Jesus began his ministry announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand.

The kingdom was present in Jesus and was his gift to his followers then and to us in our time. But we only know too well in our own time that the kingdom is not yet complete – reasons all too obvious, rocky ground, weeds, seductive temptations, and difficulties have been present in plenty. We have seen and still see divisions in the church of Christ, through our selfish actions, misunderstandings, holding to certain dogma’s and events in our church life sidetrack us from growing as the church of Christ. If that were not enough the world around us is marred by situations like the bombers in London, wars and injustice, petty nationalism, corruption, selfishness. It makes me realise that as followers of Jesus our progress has been slow over two thousand years towards giving expression to the kingdom of God on earth in all the range of our human life and affairs. Just as we need to be patient to watch our seeds grow, perhaps we need a longer perspective; Who can tell how long it might take for enough seeds to be shown and for there to be enough growth of love in human affairs? How ever long it takes we can affirm that Jesus is the gift of God for the world, given into the ordinary affairs of life day by day. Jesus’ prayer is that God’s kingdom will come on earth. The challenge to us is that we must not retreat inside our walls, but respond to his gift of himself with two commitments. The first commitment is to Jesus, to let the seed of his love grow in us as we seek to follow him more nearly and love him more dearly. ‘Dearly’ in that context does not mean only with affection, it means bearing the cost of following him, accepting that we may have to face our own rocky ground, our own weedy temptations, the crushing tread of opposition: our own Good Fridays. The trial of growth are not only what other experience, they are part of our experience too.
The second commitment is to the world. It is the history of our own time that we shall be workers for the kingdom. If there are times of escape into the church they are given only so that we shall be renewed for our work in the world.

We shall know we are doing the work of the kingdom when we see kingdom things happening: a person being healed; a child being fed who might have gone hungry had we not worked for or given to Christian Aid; a law being changed in response to our work with a pressure group to defend a person’s rights; a person being housed; an act of neighbourliness that gives joy where there might have been none; a campaign so that a persons living in a distant country will be treated with justice; a person being claimed by the Gospel. It is through a thousand ordinary activities and acts and words of love in the world - seeds – that the kingdom will come. When Christians fail to express their commitment to Jesus in commitment in the world, we become as weeds to the work others are trying to do. So the kingdom is a process of transformation that required of us time and it will not be easy. We receive the kingdom from Jesus both as gift and a work. It is a new human society to which Jesus is committed and the explanation of the parable in verses 36-433 includes words of judgement that shows that this gift matters a great deal to him,

Finally, the kingdom of God – thy kingdom come, thy will be don on earth as it is in heaven ( as we say week by week) – is what Jesus wants for us and for the world.

So let us continue to let the seeds of our faith grow with his love and also realise that we to become the sower of the seeds of the kingdom to the world in which we are called to serve