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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 16 - Proper 11 - Year A
Romans 8:12-25; Psalm 139; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
"A Farmers's Parable: The Wheat and The Weeds"

READING: Romans 8:12-25; Psalm 139; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43 SERMON : "A Farmers's Parable: The Wheat and The Weeds" Rev. Richard J. Fairchild a-or16sn 681000 The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United". SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC. Sermon Sources: King Duncan "Weeds In The Garden" Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43" from Dynamic Preaching, July 1996 and William H. Willimon, "Some Way To Run A Farm" in Pulpit Resource, Vol. 21, No. 3. Year A, July, August, September 1993. Note that this is a sermon that works in sequence with last week's sermon. GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand) * WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP L The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. P And also with you. * HYMN: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind" - VU 234 * PRAYER OF INVOCATION: We thank you Father for calling us to come to you today and to receive the food that our souls need if we are to grow as you have planned for us to grow. We thank you for your forgiveness and your mercy. Open our hearts and our minds to your presence, increase our love for you and for our brothers and our sisters, and guide us in this time of worship so that we might be persons who shine with the light of our Lord and Saviour . We ask it in his name. Amen. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS Gathering in of prayer joys and concerns. PRAYER OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER Intercessions and Thanksgivings as gathered. INTROIT For The Word of God (please stay seated): Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear; and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear. Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine! (VU 371 v.2 & refrain) A READING FROM ROMANS 8:12-25 (NRSV) So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- {13} for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. {14} For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. {15} For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" {16} it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, {17} and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. {18} I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. {19} For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; {20} for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope {21} that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. {22} We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; {23} and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. {24} For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? {25} But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. L This is the Word of the Lord P Thanks be to God. CHILDREN'S TIME: (See Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 16 - Year A Object Theme: Source: * HYMN: "Fairest Lord Jesus" - VU 341 RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 139 (VU 861) and Sung Refrain A READING FROM MATTHEW 13:24-29, 36-43 (NRSV) He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; {25} but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. {26} So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. {27} And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' {28} He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' {29} But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." {37} He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; {38} the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, {39} and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. {40} Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. {41} The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, {42} and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. {43} Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! L This is the gospel of our Risen Lord. P Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ. * HYMN: "O Christ, The Word Incarnate" - VU 499 SERMON: "A Farmers's Parable: The Wheat and The Weeds" "Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. Breath your Spirit into us and grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way you want us to go. Amen. Last Sunday we heard the parable of the sower and the seed - and discovered that God has some peculiar farming techniques. This week - with the parable of the weeds in the garden we discover once again God's method of farming is different than ours - and I am for one am very glad of it. Last week's "parable of the sower and the seed" and today's "parable of the weeds" are parables about the church - about the field that God plants in the hope of gaining a rich harvest of blessing for himself and for the world that he has made. We are the field of God - we are the ground he works - the plants he nurtures - the people he rests his hopes upon - the folk he plants his seed in, the congregation he anoints with his Spirit. The farmer's parables are parables about us - about you here in the church - you who are called by the name of Christ - as much as they are about God and what he does. We are the field of God. I daresay that the two predominant reasons modern folk give for not being Christian and for not associating with or attending church are the following: One - People in the church as just as lousy as everyone else in the world - that in general they are hypocrites - and in particular - there are thieves, liars, gossips, cheats, snobs, and adulterers among them. And/or Two - The whole idea of a good God is clearly ridiculous - because if he was so good why would he allow so much evil to exist in the world. Does any one of those two reasons sound familiar to you? Say Amen if it does!.... IT's true. That's where people are at. They are upset - and I think rightly so - that not everything is perfect. Like the farmer's servants in today's parable they are concerned: concerned that there are weeds among the wheat concerned that the harvest might not turn right concerned that the good purpose of their master might fail. At least some are - the rest are just plain critical - they don't understand things of the Spirit nor do they want to understand things of the Spirit. The highly esteemed Bible teacher Dr. Howard Hendricks said something quite interesting sometime back. Let me quote: "From research and personal experience," says Dr. Hendricks, "I've come to the conclusion that in every church, 16 percent of the members will never change. The tragedy is I see young pastors every day leaving the ministry because of that 16 percent. It's as if they're butting their heads against a brick wall. What they should be doing is concentrating on the 84 percent who are ripe for change. That's where the real ministry of the local church takes place." Dr. Hendricks is right. What is true for young pastors is true for many people. It is easy to be intimidated by what we might call the weeds in the church; it is easy to focus that exist in here in the church and out there in the world; it is easy, so easy, that we can forget the vast bouquet of flowers that makes up the rest of the church, the eighty-four percent that is the baby instead of the bathwater -- or perhaps it's just five percent! but that five percent is the leaven that raises the whole loaf! the electricity that makes the whole engine operate! the power that makes it all come alive and come true. There is almost no explaining why God allows the devil to cast his horrid seed in his garden. But the word that God gives his servants about it is very clear - "do not disturb it! Do not try to pluck it out - because if you do - you're going to wreck the whole place; you're going to end up pulling up wheat as well no matter how careful you are, you're going to develop an eye of judgement - and while you may be right in that judgement - you may end up doing wrong. Leave it to me. The weeds will be burned at the time of harvest - and all of you will have a hand in it - you will see justice done. The weed will perish - and the wheat stored in the granary of heaven." Leave it me. Wait for the time I have set.... It's hard to wait. And it's hard to understand - especially when you see such terrible things happening; but when it comes to dealing with other people - with other folk - both in the church and out of it, God calls us to mainly to plant and not to pluck up --- at least for a while. We are to resist evil of course - in ourselves and in others - through his power. We are called to recognize evil and to name it - and to pray to God that he will take care of it, much as the farmer told his servants in the parable that he would take of it. BUT most of all we are told to do good instead of evil - to bless instead of curse - to praise instead of criticize - to help instead of stand off - to love instead of hate - to forgive instead of resent - to tell truth instead of lies. It seems that there is a plan, that God does have a system, but still - when you look at it with only the dim light of human wisdom, or the closed eyes of human doubt and human pride, there is almost no explaining why God allows the devil to cast his horrid seed in his garden.. Why, O why does God allow weeds in his field? I want to finish off today by saying that I am sure glad of one thing in this whole mess, - in this strange system of divine agriculture - in this field that is so mixed and cluttered with weeds (and some of them are real whoppers), I am sure glad that God waits a while and that he tells his servants to hold back. You see - every now and then I get this idea into my head that perhaps I'm being a weed right now. And I know for sure that I've been a weed in the past - that some things I have done or failed to do - were more of the devil than they were of the Lord. And knowing that - and knowing what God has done and can do with we and for me - when I let him; I'm rather content to have the weeding put off to the end! How about you??? How often have you been a weed in the garden of the Lord? Would you - with what you know now - fancy being plucked up at those times? My friends, God is so merciful that he allows evil to exist so that what is good might grow. He allows it exist because so many times he can turn it to the good. Indeed - as we celebrate here today with Holy Communion - he can even turn death to life. There is almost no explaining any of these things - but there is a truth - there is a substance to it - that can be touched and experienced much as the disciples touched the risen body of Christ; and that truth is a saving truth, a healing truth, a truth that can only be found in that crazy mixed up field in which God plants his seed, in the love of Christ Jesus our Lord, who gave himself over to death so that we might live and who lives so that we might never die. ---- Check out George Hartwell's Creative Closings - Ordinary 16 - Year A for a different prayer or meditation with which to conclude the sermon and/or lead into the prayer time below. PRAYER OF THE DAY Gracious God, we thank you for your love - a love so great that you have mercy towards all people and give to them the time they need to come to you and to open their hearts to the good seed you want to plant in them. Grant that our lives may be open now to your touch, to your word, to your leading. Help us to be ones who are focussed on the good things that you do rather than the bad things that the evil one does. Help us to be ones who help instead of stand by at the side and criticize - to be ones who love instead of hate - who trust instead of fear - who plant rather than pluck up what has been planted. Lord, hear our prayer.... We ask you to hear all our prayers, O God, in the name of the one who taught us to pray - he who is our brother, our friend, and our Lord, both now and forevermore. Amen * HYMN "We Plough The Fields" - VU 520 * MINUTE FOR MISSION: Our Life Together and In The World * SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication We pray thee, O God, to receive the offerings of your people and to bless them in the work you have set before us. May all that we say and do be said and done in the manner that Christ taught us. Amen. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen * DEPARTING HYMN: "O Jesus, I Have Promised" - VU 120 * COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of Christ. * BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ; and may all the blessings of God - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit rest upon you and abide with you, both now and forevermore. Amen * THREEFOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" - VU 964 copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2006 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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