Pentecost 6, Year A – Morning

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Choose Life September 5, 2010 Proper 18, Year C, RCL Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Luke 14-25-33
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever August 29, 2010 Proper 17, Year C, RCL Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, (Psalm 118)
Sabbath and Healing August 22, 2010 Proper 16, Year C, RCL Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-20; Luke 13:10-17
Jesus Brings Fire August 15, 2010 Proper 15 Luke 12:49-56
Baptism – God Has Promised Us an Inheritance August 8, 2010 Proper 14, Year C, RCL Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12: 32-40 ;Revelation 22:1-5
God, Do You Really Care? August 1, 2010 Proper 13, Year C, RCL Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23
Christmas Eve Sermon 2009 December 24, 2009 Christmas Luke 2:1-20


Pentecost 6, Year A – Morning

Sermon Date:July 12, 2020

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-13, Ps 65, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 6, Proper 10, Year A

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

God is always raising up new things out of the old, creating, freeing, filling God’s people with hope and joy and peace. 

The prophet Isaiah knew that God not only promises, but also keeps promises. 

God sends the rain and the snow to water the earth, so that the sower has seeds to plant and wheat to harvest, so that we may have bread to eat. 

And God’s word works in the same way.  For those who listen, God’s word produces fruit—the fruits of joy and peace, and celebration, a celebration that includes the whole earth, which is free to be productive as God planned in the beginning. 

Maybe Jesus had in mind Isaiah’s passage about the sower and the psalmist’s words about God providing for the earth, crowning the year with goodness and filling our paths with plenty, when he told the parable about the sower, the seeds and the soils that we’ve heard today. 

Jesus shares the parable with the crowds, but he only divulges the meaning of the parable to his disciples later, when they ask him what he meant when he told the parable. 

(Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to ask Jesus in person—“So what did exactly did you mean when you said that?”)

Jesus wants the disciples to understand that no matter how generous God is, and how many seeds are planted, and how much rain falls, the seeds might not grow at all if they are planted in poor soil.

And we disciples are the soil in which God sows the words of promise, hope, peace and joy.  So our job is to be the soil in which those seeds can grow. 

So that not only can we be the ones that God sends out in joy and leads back in peace, but also the ones who hear God’s word and understand it and then bear the fruit that will bring justice, joy, peace and hope into a world desperately in need of those things. 

The good growth in our hearts and the fruits of that growth that we share with the world give God glory. 

So we want to be good soil so God’s word can grow in us. 

The Apostle Paul reminds the Romans that if they expect to be the good soil in which God’s life and peace can grow, then they need to take in Jesus, their Savior, whose love and mercy replaces the hardness of heart and sin in their lives, so that they can set their minds on the things of the Spirit, and in doing so, find life and peace.

Jesus works this way in our lives if we let him, turning us into the good soil in which His Word can grow. 

Here’s a current illustration of Paul’s point about sin and how sin must go in order for new life to grow. 

The following story highlights our responsibilities for one another and for the earth itself—a great example of how choosing to walk in the Spirit can set our minds on life and peace. 

Off the coast of California in Humboldt Bay is an island that is about a mile long and half a mile wide.  Most of the island is a salt marsh but the elevated lands that are the high ground were formed by mounds of clamshells discarded over centuries by members of the Wiyot Tribe.  Their two villages on the island thrived. 

But then in 1850, the first American settlers arrived, and in 1860 a death squad from Eureka, a town right across the bay, attacked the villages.  They killed over 200 women, children, and elders with hatchets, knives and clubs so that the residents of Eureka wouldn’t have to hear gunshots.  Then within days 100 additional people were murdered—the reason for all this mayhem was the accusation that someone had stolen cattle. 

In reality, a settler named Robert Gunther had procured a US deed to the island and wanted to take it over, which he then did.  He tried to drain the land to graze cattle there.  Later, an 1870s shipyard and a sawmill after that  left behind ground and water pollution.  In 1850, an estimated 1500 to 2000 Wiyot people had lived around Humboldt Bay.  But by the 1900 census, only 100 Wiyot people were left. In just fifty years, the efforts to destroy an ethnic group of people had been quite successful, but not completely. 

After many years of work by the Wiyot Tribe, in December 2018 the Eureka City Council who still owned part of the island, returned the land to the Wiyots, no strings attached.  At the meeting in which this happened, the mayor says that she didn’t expect to, but she cried because there was just so much joy in that room. 

One of the councilwomen said that “Giving the island back can’t take away what happened, but it is a step in the right direction.  It’s always important to make amends.” 

Meanwhile, the island itself has been transformed.  Starting in 2000, when the Wiyots had been able to purchase 1.5 acres of the island, they began to clean up what had become a toxic wasteland, full of scrap metal, hazardous liquids, a seawall made of old 12-volt boat batteries leaking chemicals into the bay.  Over the years, volunteers removed over 60 tons of scrap iron and steel.  They started restoring the salt marsh by removing invasive plants so that the native plants could return.  With EPA funding the cleanup was completed and the island was certified clean in 2013. If you go to the island today, you will see seagulls, wading shorebirds, pelicans, loons, egrets and herons.  Baby crabs cover the mudflats. Deer swim between the islands.  The water is cleaner and native species are flourishing.

And the Wiyot people plan to continue their native plant restoration and cultural restoration on the island, until the whole island is freed and restored.     

Tribal Administrator Michelle Vassel says, “This story tells you that you can change history and turn back the times.  I’ve seen all this happen in my lifetime.  But it doesn’t happen just because it’s right.  It takes a lot of people working over time.”  

That story is a story about the seed of justice, life and peace taking root in good soil.  The people of Eureka and the Wiyots, working together, are the good soil which can once again can bear fruit and yield a hundredfold, and everyone benefits. 

God is always raising up new things out of the old, creating, freeing, filling God’s people with hope and joy and peace. 

Here at St Peter’s, I believe with all my heart that we want to be the good soil in which the word of God can grow, and that we do want to set our minds on the Spirit so that God can bring life and peace to the world around us, so that we too can have new life. 

And we can do that, because Paul reminds us that the Spirit of God dwells in us, and if the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, then God will give new resurrection life to us too. 

Jesus said, “Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!” 


Questions for discussion

The Spirit of God dwells in us.  What does that mean for you, and for us as a congregation?  How do we set the Spirit free and become the good soil that will yield one hundredfold for God?    


Reference:  Helvarg, David.  “An Island of Resilience:  The Wiyot Reclaim their Land and Culture from a Dark Past.” Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Spring 2020.