Pentecost 6, Year A – Evening

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Pentecost 20, Year A October 18, 2020 Pentecost 20, Proper 24, Year A I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Psalm 96
Pentecost 19, Year A October 11, 2020 Pentecost 19, Proper 23, Year A Philippians 4:1-9
Pentecost 18, Year A October 4, 2020 Pentecost 18, Year A Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:7-14, Philippians 3:4b-14, Matthew 21:33-46
Pentecost 17, Year A – Elizabeth Heimbach September 27, 2020 Pentecost 17, Proper 21 Year A Matthew 21:23-32
Pentecost 16, Year A September 20, 2020 Pentecost 16, Proper 20, Year A 2020 The Season of Creation Matthew 20:1-16
Pentecost 15, Year A September 13, 2020 Pentecost 15, Proper 19 Genesis 50:15-21, Matthew 18:21-35
Pentecost 14, Year A September 6, 2020 Pentecost 14, Proper 18, Year A Ezekiel 33:7-11, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20
Pentecost 13, Year A August 30, 2020 Pentecost, 13, Proper 17, Year A Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28
Pentecost 12, Year A August 23, 2020 Pentecost 12, , Proper 16, Year A Isaiah 51:1-6, Ps 138, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20
Pentecost 11, Year A August 16, 2020 Pentecost 11, Proper 15, Year A Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Matthew 15:10-28
Pentecost 10, Year A August 9, 2020 Pentecost 10, Proper 14, Year A I Kings 19:9-18, Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33
Pentecost 9, Year A August 2, 2020 Pentecost 9, Proper 13, Year A Psalm 145:8-9, 15-22; Matthew 14:13-21
Pentecost 8, Year A July 26, 2020 Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12, 2020 Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Pentecost 7, Year A July 19, 2020 Pentecost 7, Proper 11, Year A Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
Pentecost 6, Year A – Evening July 12, 2020 Pentecost 6, Proper 10, Year A Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

 

Pentecost 6, Year A – Evening

Sermon Date:July 12, 2020

Scripture: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 6, Proper 10, Year A


“The Sower Under Setting Sun” (1888) – Vincent Van Gogh


I am so grateful to God to be standing here with you at St Peter’s, this place on earth that we share as our holy ground.  I’ve missed you and we’ve missed one another. 

During our four month physical separation, God has had the opportunity to remind us that, as that little song goes, “I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church together.”  Church is the people, after all, not the building.  Whenever we invite God in; into our homes, around our tables, in our own yards and gardens, we remember that we are inhabiting sacred space, because God is there with us.  We don’t have to wait to be at church to be with God.   

Tonight, though, we get to be back together on this ground, ground set aside for St Peter’s since the 1830’s as sacred ground for prayer, for worship, for learning, and for thanksgiving and praise to God.  Even though the cases of COVID are on the rise again in Caroline County and in our region, and we still have far to go before we can safely gather inside, at last we can be here together outside, thanks to the healing properties of the fresh air, the breeze, and the earth itself, plus the precautions that we are taking for one another by wearing masks and staying six feet apart, as hard as that feels.   

The first verse of a beautiful hymn by David Evans goes like this.  “Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy one is here.  Come bow before him now with reverence and fear.  In him no sin is found, we stand on holy ground.  Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy One, is here.”    As God touches each of us through prayer and praise, our hearts join in thanksgiving, and we do get to touch one another, at least figuratively, as we worship together.

So how fitting that today’s gospel is about soil, about the earth itself—for we are here, standing on sacred ground. 

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, which we’ve just heard, and the seed that gets sown on the good soil brings forth piles and piles of grain that will provide seed for the next year’s planting and flour for bread, so that everyone will have more than enough to eat throughout the year. 

Soil itself is alive.  Good soil is balanced—a mix of silt, sand and clay along with humus, that organic material that is essential to the soil’s fertility.  Good soil is strong enough to anchor the roots of the plants that grow, and is light enough to let in air and water which the roots need to thrive.  And the soil even helps plants communicate with one another.

Trees communicate with one another through their root systems.  They use a network of fungi in the soil that grow around and inside their roots.  The fungi give the trees nutrients and the trees provide sugars to the fungi.  When trees plug into the fungal network that is in the soil, they share resources with one another.  The BBC video that explains all this nicknames this system as the Wood Wide Web. 

It is through this fungal system that trees share resources.  Mother trees use the network to provide their shaded seedlings with sugars which give the seedlings a better chance of survival.  Sick or dying trees dump their resources into the network so that their healthier neighbors can benefit.  And if one tree is attacked, it can send chemical signals to the other trees in the network as a warning to put up their defenses. 

So good soil not only produces good yields from seeds, but it holds tree communities together in mostly positive ways, although a few trees do wage war on others through this usually beneficial fungal system by releasing toxic chemicals that can then harm their rivals. 

When we Christians are the good soil in which others can grow, we not only help each person thrive, but we provide the rich soil in which everyone can work together and bring forth even more fruit, contributing to God’s work of providing abundantly for the earth and all of its inhabitants, so that all can become one great superorganism working together for the good of all and for the glory of God. 

Now here’s another interesting thing about soil, and I am not making this up!

If you live in the town of Boho in the Northern Ireland County Fermanagh, and you get an infection, you go to the Sacred Heart Church there and ask the priest if you can check out some of the soil around the church.  The priest will provide you with some soil in a cloth packet that you promise to return, and then you go home, put the soil under your pillow and the next morning find the infection in full retreat.  People have probably been using the soil from this area since the time of the Druids to heal infections! 

Microbiologists got interested in the soil and wanted to find out whether the reports of the soil’s healing properties were some sort of hoax. 

Here’s what they found.  The soil around the church is teeming with a new strain of bacterium with powerful infection inhibitors from the family Streptomycetaceae, the same bacteria strain used to produce antibiotics.  The researchers found that the healing soil around the church really does kill many disease causing organisms, including some that antibiotics can’t control.     As more and more antibiotics are becoming ineffective against superbugs, scientists are exploring more carefully what’s behind the old folk remedies, including the soil itself, in order to find healing properties that can help us now. 

So–we Christians can be the good healing soil for the diseases in our society that cannot be solved or healed by politics or money, or even with simple good will.

Difficult diseases from which people suffer such as divisions brought on by skin color, political affiliation, systemic economic inequities, culture wars, religious divides and other intractable problems  can only be healed by the powerful infection inhibitors that we contain, the reconciling love of Jesus, which has healed us and continues to heal us,  and which Jesus asks us in turn to use to be healing soil for our neighbors and our society.  In this good healing soil, our churches and our nation can become not something that has been, but something new, well and healthy superorganisms that work together in positive ways for the good of all people and the good of the earth, only for the glory of God. 

Feel this earth beneath your feet.

Think of yourself as this earth, supporting growing things, facilitating communication, being creative in helping all the things that God has planted, all of the people that God has brought onto this earth, to grow strong and healthy and  life giving so that they can bear much fruit. 

Feel this earth beneath your feet.  Think of yourself as this earth, as healing soil, teeming with life saving disease inhibitors—the reconciling love that Jesus has given to us so that the Holy Spirit can fill us with joy and peace.  

Begin tonight to dare to be God’s good soil.  Stand on this sacred ground, Be still and feel this soil beneath your feet, “for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here.” 

“Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place:  He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace.  No work too hard for him.  In faith receive from him.  Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.” 

Go, and be good soil for this world.     

 

References

“Be still, for the presence of the Lord”  by David J. Evans

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWOqeyPIVRo  How trees secretly talk to each other—BBC News June 29, 2018

https://www.treehugger.com/dirt-soil-irish-church-healing-4859455

Dirt from this old Irish church really does have……