Kingdom Stories

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

The Kingdom of heaven is like………..

How would you finish that sentence?

How would you finish that sentence today in the context of your own joys and struggles as you, along with all of us here today, try and figure out what God is up to in our lives and in our world.

Mathew 13:24-35

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

The Kingdom of heaven is like………..

How would you finish that sentence?

How would you finish that sentence today in the context of your own joys and struggles as you, along with all of us here today, try and figure out what God is up to in our lives and in our world.

This is how Jesus answers the question.

He says the Kingdom of heaven is like sowing good seeds and some evil person sneaks in and mixes weeds in with the wheat.

He says it is like a really small mustard seed that grows into a large bush, almost tree like and birds can nest in it.

And he says it is like yeast that a woman takes and mixes in with the flour so the flour can do what it was meant to do.

I’m sure that clears it all up for you right?

Well maybe not and I think this is intentional and I think it is ok.

I have to confess that I kind of like the ambiguity that comes with these three parables about the Kingdom of heaven. This is what faith and life are like sometimes. Not always clear.

Don’t get me wrong, in many areas of my life I like, I crave order and structure and routine. I might even be set in my ways which I know isn’t always a good thing.

But Jesus tells these stories for a reason. I think he is trying to help us understand that following him and seeking to understand what the kingdom of heaven looks like brings with it a good measure of ambiguity.

I think he is trying to tell us that kingdom work involves sowing a lot of seeds or providing leavening in this world with no clear outcome in mind other than the faith involved in sowing the seeds and adding the yeast to the flour and trusting that God will give the growth.

Understanding how the kingdom of heaven works and is made visible in our lives isn’t always clear. Very often we don’t see it right away or it doesn’t make any sense to us.

For those of us who want things neat and tidy and easy to see all the time, this can be stressful.

We never know how God might show up in our lives or our church.

We never know how God might need to use us in this world.

We never know what challenges we will face tomorrow, or next month or next year.

This applies to us as individuals and also to our church.

I love the response of the master who sowed good seeds in his field when he finds out that there are weeds in the field too.

He doesn’t panic. He doesn’t rush to judgment. He says let’s wait and see what happens. Let them grow together and we will figure it out at the harvest.

I hear this delayed response to the concern about the weeds as a word of grace because I know as well as you that in each of our lives there is wheat and there are weeds and sometimes we struggle to discern the difference between the two.

I hear all 3 of these parables, these Jesus stories, as opened ended opportunities to keep on sowing good seeds, small seeds. I hear these stories as a call for Christians to provide the proper leavening in this world in order for God’s truth, love and mercy to bear fruit in this world.

This is the work of the church, this is the story of the church.

This morning I need you to reflect on the story of this church, Augustana, in light of these three kingdom parables. I need you to help build the Augustana story wall. You should have received a letter about this story wall and it was in the February newsletter.

When the strategic planning design team participated in this story wall activity it opened our eyes and our hearts to the bigger picture of how God has been at work at Augustana over the years. Like small mustard seeds that were planted, large bushes of grace, hope and love have grown over the years because of all the sowing of seeds that has taken place here.

The story wall activity helped us to “uncover the deeper story of who we are as a church.”

It helped us to see what has made us who we are as a Christian community and it helped us to see how God has moved us forward in mission.

This morning it is your turn. As part of today’s sermon I am asking you to take one or two of the post-it notes in your pew and this is what I want you to do right now. Think of it this way, you are helping to craft this morning’s sermon. You have a part to play in writing the Jesus story, the kingdom story that is unfolding at Augustana and has been since 1907.

I want you to identify and write on your post it note, right now;

  • a significant event
  • a significant person
  • a significant success
  • or even a significant challenge in the life of this church and the year in which it occurred.

Write it on your post it note.  Examples could be a baptism, a new ministry that started here, a life changing, faith changing event that happened to you, your decision to join Augustana, a milestone event that happened here. Anything the spirit brings to mind for you. Write it down.

I would even like you to dream about what you want to happen here and where you think God might be leading us into the future and what that might looks like. You can use more than one post it note if you like.

Then after worship, I need for every one of you to go into our gathering space and over by the fellowship hall there is a big story board and I want you to put your post it note up on the story wall.

Now it is your time to keep this sermon going. I am hitting the pause button while you write.

This is your church and you are part of these kingdom stories. God has sown seeds in your life and in this church and the story of Augustana is still unfolding.

You help to make up this story.

You will be the ones to see how the story keeps unfolding.

It’s like a parable, a kingdom parable, a Jesus story that can seem kind of ambiguous and hard to understand.

But because God is at work in the seed and the yeast and in the sowing and in the reaping, we know and we trust that good things will happen. We know that God’s mission will be carried out through the people of God who are Augustana.

We know that the kingdom of heaven will be seen in and through the love, grace and mercy of Augustana Lutheran Church.

We are writing our Jesus story.

We are crafting a kingdom parable where the good news of Jesus is at the heart and center of who we are and what we do.

We are the beloved children of God writing the story of where faith meets life by our words, our deeds and our unending trust in the Lord of the harvest, the sower of the seeds and the savior of us all.

For Jesus sake and the revealing of His kingdom in our midst we say thanks be to God. Amen

 

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