“I Still Have Many Things To Say…”

The First Reading from I Samuel 15:34- 16:13

34Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.  The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.  6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” 7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13Then 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. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

The Word of the Lord.          Thanks be to God.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark 4:26-34

26He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”  30He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  33With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

The Gospel of Christ            Praise to you Lord Christ

A homily by Mother Beth – “I Still Have Many Things to Say….” Mark 4

It is difficult to know what to say to you as I am called on to something new.  When we started on this journey in October 2016 I had no idea that God would lead me here to this day at this time.  I remember a familiar reading that I have clung to and mused over in John 16:12-15 and one line in particular stands out to me, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”  I knew from the beginning of this journey that God was leading and that there was more to His plan than what I could see or understand at the time.

The readings from today offer further insight into the great mystery of God and His kingdom and how He plans to bring it about.  In the Samuel reading from this week, the people had called for a King because they wanted to be like the other nations around them.  They wanted to have an earthly leader instead of relying on God and the prophets to lead them.  The people chose Saul – who was every bit the image of a Royal.

HE had the stature and the looks.  IN the reading from today we hear that God has chosen someone else to replace Saul and we get a picture of how God chooses a leader and how different that is from how the people choose.

God chooses differently then we might expect.   We hear in the Samuel passage that “the Lord does not see as mortals see”.   We look on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. Last week I spoke about God renewing us inwardly day by day and this passage in Samuel fits well with that.  God chooses based on the transformation that can happen or has happened in the heart.   As other have said, He qualifies the chosen – he calls each of us – not because we have it all together – not because we are the best and the brightest – he calls us because he sees the heart and recognizes – surrender and willingness to fulfill his will.   HE calls us not so that we will fulfill OUR plan but so that we will fulfill HIS plan.

God chose David for that very reason.  He knew that David would be willing to seek God’s wisdom and advice and obey and follow God’s direction.  He knew that David – for all his mistakes and missteps – would keep coming back to being open and honest before God.

God will not be controlled.  He does what is unexpected.

One year I planted herbs and when the plants began to grow, it become obvious that somehow a tomato plant had grown as well.  One or two little seeds must have fallen into the packet and I didn’t realize what it was until it was well on its way to being a full blown plant.    Once the fruit came on the plant there was definitely no denying that it was indeed a tomato and not the parsley or sage that it had been planted with.

Today in the readings Jesus tells the people the Kingdom of God is like someone who sows seed and then goes out day after day and discovers that the seed has grown into a plant.   This is the miracle of seeds that you can look into that ground day after day and see nothing and then suddenly, one day there is a green shoot – new life and before you know it – comes the harvest.   Now I realize that farming today is not this simplistic but think back to when you first planted a bean plant in grade school or the first time you planted a flower or vegetable garden from seed.  The early days seem like an endless wait and yet we know that something is happening below the surface of the soil.  The growth is starting on the inside, in the darkness before it is seen above ground.   So we do not lose heart – we walk by faith and not by sight.

In the second parable Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.  It starts out small but grows into something large.  Mustard like many other invasive plants can take over every place it is allowed to go.  This is a great image of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus is reassuring us that the Kingdom will grow and spread – that once it starts – like that mustard bush – it will multiply and spread and it all starts with one seed.

And although we like to think that we are entirely responsible for the spreading or growing of the Kingdom of God, the truth is God does it.  God does what is unexpected and He will not be controlled by people or the church.  God has a mission and He will bring His plan about with or without us.   He wants us to partner with him. He calls us to be open and willing to fulfill His plan.

For so long we as the church have thought in terms of the church being the mission – we have thought that the whole point of all of this was to get people to come to church.  But the truth is, we as the church should be fulfilling God’s mission – to introduce people to God – to provide an opportunity to meet God and to go from this place and live abundantly in our communities.   God’s mission is not limited within the walls of the church.

The beauty of the parable of planting a seed and then going on with the day to day duties of your life is that it shows us the regularity being about the things of God.  It is in our daily coming and going that the true life of faith is lived.   We make it hard on ourselves.  We think it is about a huge evangelistic meeting or that we need to be at the church every day of the week – that is what it means to be called or to work with God on His mission.  But the truth is, God is looking at the heart, He is calling to you and I to live our lives faithfully in the community.  God is doing the hard work – He invites us to be part of the big and unexpected things by planting a seed – by loving each other, by extending to a friend or neighbour, by standing strong in the face of trials or troubles.  He calls us to be part of the big picture by being faithful in our little corner of the field – what little seed has God given you to plant today?

As we faithfully plant those seeds in the lives of others – in the lives of the community, God will be faithful to provide the growth and His kingdom will spread and grow to the ends of the earth.  Amen.

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A transplanted Canadian living in sunny Florida. An Episcopal priest, wife, mother, dog lover, story teller and avid movie watcher.

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