Sunday, July 03, 2005

July 10, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +8

Genesis 25:19-34 or Isaiah 55:10-13
Psalm 119:105-112 or Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

In the midst of struggles of life where do we find the way through to freedom? Relatedly, is freedom the way or the result of a way? These questions come before us at every point along the way. We resolve them temporarily and then need to do so again.


  1. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

    On a patriotic July 4 comes the parable of the sower/the seed. It would be so easy to begin noting the wonderful soil that is us. How we have blessed the seed sown in us. How the seed had found its rightful home.

    One of the characteristics of creation is its profligacy. Seeds go everywhere. They travel by bird and squirrel and wind and catching on pants. Seeds end up everywhere.

    We could claim that there is no place for seed eating birds, no place for that which we call weeds, no place for rocky ground. But consider how ugly, monocultured, and defeatist that would be.

    We would miss the beauty of the finch, dandelion wine, and those lone flowers on the side of a desert butte.

    Truly this is not just about good seed triumphing. That's eugenics at its worst. Let's consider for a moment that Jesus was most truthful when quoting Isaiah (in the elided part of this week's pericope) "we listen, but never understand" and was least truthful in drawing a one-to-one correspondence between an evocative tale and one particular take on it.

    See if you can go back to the story alone and see what it says about your current state of affairs. If possible for you, forget you heard an explanation that has cut off every other option. Simply see if you have ears to listen.

  2. Romans 8:1-11

    If the seed of GOD is in Jesus it is in good soil. How wonderful. If the seed of GOD is in a bird or a briar patch or some dried out somewhere, it is still the seed of GOD. How wonderful.

    I do believe the Spirit of GOD which raised Jesus dwells in me and you, whomever you might be. This spirit dwells whether I've been bad or good enough for Santa. This spirit dwells and gives life. How wonderful.

    We can parse GOD out of lives or into. Your choice.

  3. Psalm 119:105-112 or Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13

    According to the song, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose". The same can be said for Obedience. We move in one direction as far as we can, testing the boundaries of freedom or obedience, and then shift direction to the other polarity.

    We also do this with the models of individual and community, as well as with categories of inclusion and exclusion.

    As we hold our lives in our hands and in each other's hands, we struggle for clarity of where mercy fits into judgment in models of freedom and obedience.

    As you read here what model of the above pairings did you hold when 2 or 22 or 42 or 62 or 82? What rhythms have you found working in your life and lives?

  4. Genesis 25:19-34 or Isaiah 55:10-13

    A seed is sown. Will it be rain or snow? Will it be Esau or Jacob? Either way they journey forth and will not return until they have watered the earth, until they have revealed more about themselves, one another, and GOD.

    This feels like an appropriate spot to note that old gospel hymn, The Songs of the Reaper. Seeds scattered, tears and songs and joy flow mingled down, life is invested and gone beyond.

    Friends, keep scattering those seeds. [note: just mistyped that and noted the similarity between seeding and seeking -- my but isn't that what progressive Christians do!]

  5. Romans 8:1-11

    Today brings this community the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Now to a reflection on being set free from the law of sin and death.

    Paul plays a lot with a resurrected Jesus. This was his experience. What is set aside here is not literal death.. Death still occurs and we will recognize both temporary escapes from it and its eventual reality during the Relay for Life.

    What is set aside is death as a limit. This includes the usual limits of life, as well, resources, energy, insight, etc. Paul sees new life being given to life and resurrected life being added to death. All the Flesh and Spirit stuff boils down to New Life being available today and tomorrow, both in our living and in our death.

    Consider, for a moment that it is true that this seed of New Life has been planted within you already. It was cast forth while you were still flighty, distracted, hardened, or ready for it. Whatever your state it was sown and re-sown. Now it is time for it to be nourished and nurtured by you, intentionally. that it might burst into good fruit for the common good of those around you as well as yourself.

    While not free from sin or death (whatever those metaphors mean) we are free to live beyond them, nonetheless.

  6. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

    After a telling of the parable of the sower, verse 9 ends, "Let anyone with ears listen!" Verse 18 begins, "Hear then the parable of the sower." Implication - the missing portion is significant in making the transition.

    So how will Jesus deal with the slow-to-catch-on disciples? He could throw up his hands and lump the disciples in with all the rest who hear but don't get it. He could simply go on to something else, having just planted an idea in their heads that life happens in a variety of ways.

    Here he chides them, but they probably don't get that either, that others would know what to do with his parable and other teachings and healings and confrontations. But those would would get it quickly are gone, so he has to deal with what is at hand, such as you and I.

    It appears Jesus goes back to the primer approach that “this means that”. Of course this cuts down on the multi-valency of the parable, but it is more at the learning level of the disciples.

    When folks don't get your message, you have some choices. Will you write them off? Keep repeating yourself and getting the same result each time? Back up and give them a bit of what they can get their heads around, knowing that the Spirit of Understanding will come later to teach them things too difficult at the moment.

    Let's engage at the level available to us. Let’s use the KISS method, “Keep It Simple, Sinner.”


Thank you for blessing us with your response.