How Ministry Works – A Concordia Sermon based on Mark 4
How Ministry Works
May the grace, mercy, and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ sustain you as you mature in trusting God and serve those around you!
Cornfields of Dandelions?
As we look at the kingdom parables in our gospel reading this morning, I imagine you think the Farmer creates a farm like the ones we may be had driven by, where the seeds are planted in nice neat rows.
But the scripture says he throws the seeds, just slings them across the field, so a better illustration would be those beautiful flowers that spread their spores across the fields of my youth.
You know, those lovely things we call dandelions!
The spores fly where ever there wind blows, and overnight your beautiful yard is covered In bright yellow flowers, though some might call them weeds.
That is how the Kingdom of God is, as the seed of the gospel is blown about, and creates life from seemed barren, lifeless, and even dead. Yet that seemingly dead and lifeless seed, like the spores on a dandelion, produces incredible abundant life.
Without any manipulation of the farmer.
Which is why Jesus shared this parable with the disciples, and with us.
We’ve lost control!!!!
The first commandment is, I believe the simplest, and yet the hardest to put into play.
“You shall have no other gods to rival me. 4 ‘You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. 5 ‘You shall not bow down to them or serve them.; Exodus 20:3-5a (NJB)
That bow down part needs to be explained a little. In the culture of the time, it was more than a mark of respect, it was a mark of submission, of recognizing that the other person was responsible for you and had the right to direct your life any way they wished, including ending it. It was the kind of complete submission that occurs to one who has lost a war, or who really trusts the person they bow to, knowing the character of the person that they entrusted themselves to, as they bowed.
TO have a God means to trust them with your life, to run to them in times of trouble and need, and to trust their compassion, to trust them to make things right.
There is a problem with that, and it is not a new one. It is the reason Jesus told this parable.
We like to be in control, we like to know the outcome of our days, and whether the times we endured are worth it. We want to be able to have the right to question God and tell Him how we want the universe ran, or at least our tiny corner of it.
So too in the church, the challenge is to be focused on the gospel, on sharing God’s love as far as we can fling it and trusting the Holy Spirit to provide the result that our Triune God desires.
Except it always doesn’t work quite the way we like, and the Kingdom of God, which we would like to see nicely organized and ordered, in our opinion, seems messy and slow in its growth, and we can’t stand not seeing what is happening. We can’t wait for the blade to explode out of the seed, and the heads of wheat to form, and the plant to mature.
So we might get impatient, and rather than trust God, we trust ourselves. We strive to control and determine how and when growth happens. And in making ourselves God, we fall deep into sin. Believe me, it is easy to do, to become distracted from sharing the reason we have hope in what seems to be a dark and trying life.
It is pretty easy to move from frustration to sin, from impatience with God’s process to trying to take over and play God ourselves.
And yet the seed lies there, about to burst into life, all under the control of God, and not ours.
So how do we learn to trust Him, to look to Him to provide the growth, while still planting the seeds?
Time to find rest in the trees!
The other parable gives us the idea of how to do so, as we realize the seed of the gospel is simply Christ, who was planted in the ground.
This seemingly simple man, in the most remote part of the Roman Empire, dies, killed by his “own” people, those that claimed to follow God. And even as He is planted in the ground, the apostles had no idea of what we think of as Christianity today. They could see nothing but pain. Yet in His being planted, life is formed and created in us. A Billion people have found life in Christ, and in the second service, as a lady is baptized, another finds rest, like the birds that find a home in a mustard tree, safe deeply within from the predators.
It is when we know we are there when we can breathe deeply, and rest, and realize how God cares and provides for us that we learn to trust Him when we learn that He is the Lord of the church when we realize that He is God.
For we find our refuge and our hope in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and in the promised God gives us, as we are united to Jesus in our baptism. He cleanses us of all our brokenness and all the times where we’ve tried to play God.
This is what God does, hiding us so completely in His grace that we simply trust Him, that we simply relax and know His love, so incredible that we simply get back to work, throwing out the seed of the gospel, the very love of Jesus.
The gospel that draws people into a relationship deep within Christ, a place where we are revived and renewed, as we dwell in His love! AMEN!