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Week of July 5, 2020

by Rev. Matthew Johnson on July 05, 2020

Opening Prayer
O God, We gather our scattered selves into this moment, hungry for an encounter with you, eager to hear your Word. Open our eyes and ears to the presence of your Holy Spirit. May the seeds of your Word, scattered among your creation, fall on fertile soil. May they take root in our hearts and lives, and produce an abundant harvest of good words and deeds. Amen. (Christine Longhurst, adapted)

Psalm 65

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, O you who answer prayer!

To you all flesh shall come. When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.

Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts.

We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.

By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might.

You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.

You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.

You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness.

The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.


Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

 

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”


Questions for Reflection
How do you receive this parable today?

When it comes to spreading the fruits of the Spirit, do you find yourself acting more like a farmer, preparing the ground to receive them, or this sower, broadcasting them everywhere and letting them fall where they may? What are the risks involved in choosing either action?

Why would God choose such indiscriminate methods for planting the “word of the Kingdom,” and what might that say about who “the Kingdom” is for?


Closing Prayer
God of harvest, you place us at the center, feed us, equip us and, having provided for us, look to a different harvest— a fruitfulness of lives in service to you and others. God of harvest, feed us prune us harvest us that our lives might bring glory to you. Amen. (John Birch)

Benediction
God will not let you stumble and fall; the One who watches over you will never slumber or sleep. God will keep safe from all of life’s evils; from your first breath to the last breath you breathe, from this day forward and forever. So go in peace to love and serve God and your neighbors. Amen.