St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Sermon for July 27th, 2008

Sermon for July 27, 2008
St. James’ Goshen
Parish Picnic
Arthur Hadley

Here we are near Lake Wawasee much like when Jesus was teaching the people of Capernaum. Jesus came from Nazareth where he grew up.
The people of Nazareth, his family, brothers, sisters, cousins, rejected him, even tried to kill him. But his teachings drew a following in the sea side town of Capernaum where he called Andrew and his brother Peter who were fishermen, and another set of brothers, James and John sons of Zebedee. At first Jesus taught in the local synagogue, about 3 blocks from the coast of Sea of Galilee. Those who wanted to hear Jesus grew too large for the synagogue, and Jesus went down to the sea and got in one of the boats and went out a little so more people could hear him.

Jesus taught using a series of parables: seed sown on pathway, rocky soil, among the weeds and on good ground, and then seeds sown on good soil but weed seed still sprouted and the weed and weevil had to be purified from the harvested grain. In the gospel lesson appointed for today we have four short parables that try to describe the Kingdom God is like:
A small seed that grows into a great tree.
A small amount of yeast can become the leaven for a bushel of flour.
A small Pearl that is more valuable than every thing else you can own.
Going fishing in the sea and catching so many fish the nets would begin to break and the boat so full that it might sink. At the end of the age when God comes to judge the good can be sorted from the bad fish.

The parables Jesus used could easily be understood by those who came to hear him. They were stories of farmers planting seed, and stories of fishermen, and merchants and women baking bread. The simple story of the Kingdom of God is like things you already know. A very little bit of seed or yeast can grow into greatness. A little seed can multiply a hundred fold, or a little seed the size of a mustard seed can grow into a great big mulberry tree, or a small amount of yeast can grow in the flour to become a mass of dough for loaves of bread. And even if weeds grow up and evil weevil infect the grain it can be sorted out at the end and purified. We do not try to condemn the weeds and root them out now, but wait for God to sort it all out at the end of time, just like the fishermen do when the have a large catch;they haul it all in and sort out the good from the bad later.

The apostles Andrew, Peter, James and John and all the rest heard Jesus tell these simple stories to explain God’s loving gift of salvation, A New Testament , a Gospel, good news. After Jesus’ death and resurrection the Apostles retold the stories again and again and the followers of Jesus continued to grow upsetting status quo and threatening the traditional leaders. King Herod tried to stop the followers of Jesus by executing James and arresting Peter. But the followers of Jesus kept telling the parables and preaching that the Kingdom of God is now, God loves us now. We are given salvation now. And we keep telling the stories in ways all people, all over the world, can understand.

Thanks be to God.

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