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Sermon July 30 2023

Pentecost 9 A 2023 Six More Parables

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Over the last three weeks we have heard three parables concerning the “Kingdom of God.”  Well guess what?  Today we have six more parables concerning the “Kingdom of God.”  It seems that Jesus is trying very hard to get the disciples to understand what He is trying to tell them.

And get this.  At the end, Jesus even asks them if they have understood what He has been trying to teach them, and they respond “Yes, we have.”  You know, I wonder if they really did understand what Jesus was trying to tell them, or if they responded “yes we have” because they just wanted to get past the parables.

Now, each of the parables we have today is important.  Each parable is important because each one of them offers a glimpse into a different aspect of Gods’ Kingdom.  Each parable is like a facet on a diamond, displaying a different view of God’s Kingdom.

The first parable speaks of God’s Kingdom as one that begins small, and then grows to become a tree large enough where birds, symbolizing the people of many nations, can make their home. 

The second parable illustrates that the Kingdom of God is like a tiny piece of yeast that enters our world and grows and expands until it has a positive impact on the whole world.

The next two parables describe the Kingdom of God like a priceless treasure (or pearl) for which someone sacrifices and gives up everything so they can hold onto their newfound treasure.

The fifth parable reminds us that even though there is both good people and bad people in our world, the separation of the good from the bad is not ours but God’s.  Our task is to gather in all who will come, and not judge or separate, and leave the final judgement/the final separation to God.

The final parable today informs us that the Kingdom of God is like the head of a household who not only seeks out new treasure but refurbishes the old to make it new again. 

As the old service hymn “Now the Feast and Celebration” states “For God has come to dwell with us, to make us people of God, to make all things new.”

And so, as you can see, all these parables read together, side by side, present to us a fuller and bigger picture of the Kingdom of God.  And the parables call us to reexamine our thoughts and beliefs about God’s Kingdom.

Together, the parables declare that the Kingdom of God is priceless, powerful, life changing, and grows in amazing and unseen ways.  Together, the parables highlight how different God’s Kingdom is from the kingdoms and rulers in this world. 

Sometimes the kingdoms of this world are oppressive governments.  Other times it is simply the things that we allow to lord it over us like money, anger, fear, prejudice, material goods, gossip, anxiety… the list could go on and on. 

The parables today urge us to step outside of our comfort zone and embrace God’s Kingdom.  The parables urge us to stop for a moment and smell the coffee (so to speak) and catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God breaking into this world.

And this is hard.  It is hard because all the bad and horrible things in this world get all the airtime.  Positive news does not sell.   Good news is boring.  Wholesome news does not catch our eye. 

And that is why we should take a page out of Solomons book and pray for an understanding mind – a listening heart – so we can recognize both the good and evil in this world and discern God in the midst of it all.    

And as we do so, we need to remember that no matter what happens, God is here with us now.  The Apostle Paul talks about this so well when he states that nothing, including other kingdoms, empires, rulers, or even angels, can separate us from God’s love. 

Just reading this news from Paul makes our journey in life lighter.  Our steps bigger.  Our smile broader.  Our perspective more joyful.  Why?  Because no matter what hardships we face in this world, we know that we are firmly embraced in God’s love.   

Yes, there are many kingdoms and rulers trying to lord it over us in this world. 

The question is “Who will we serve?”  Will it be one of the princes and principalities of this world, or will it be God’s priceless, powerful, and life changing kingdom. 

My friends, today, right now, God’s Kingdom is at hand.  Therefore, let us repent and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray:  Merciful God, we confess that we have squandered your blessings and turned our backs on your love.  Help us to repent and return to you, confident that you will welcome us as your sons and daughters.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.