Pentecost 6, July 16, 2017

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Title:Pentecost 6, July 16, 2017

 Sunday, July 16, 2017, Pentecost 6 (full size gallery)

Catherine is at the beach this Sunday and next. We welcomed the Rev. David Upshaw as our guest minister. In fact with the Rev. Ron Okrasinksi, Ramon’s mother-in-law from Springfield MA we had one minister per every 10 parishioners. 31 were in attendance.

The crepes myrtle came out this week in full flourish. They should last into August. Southern Living wrote about these trees. “The first crepes myrtle was brought to Charleston by botanist to Louis XVI, André Michaux in 1786. Originally from China and exported to England, it did not bloom since the clammy British climate wasn’t hot enough. But the south was! The tree loves heat and humidity, tolerates drought, and grows quickly. Unlike the azalea, camellia, and gardenia, which pine for acid soil, crepe myrtle flourishes just about everywhere. No wonder it ranks as the South’s most popular (and coveted) ornamental tree.”

Johnny made two important announcements. 1. The men earned $592 from hot dog, water and melon sales on July 4. 2. Yesterday, he led a crew of 5 to glean 1900 pounds of corn from Parker’s farm in Westmoreland. They were out in the sun for 3 hours. While not as bad as Wed-Friday this past week which was consistently in the high 90’s it was still hot. 

Myrtle Samuels, mother of Andrew Pogue died on July 11. The funeral will be July 29 at St. Peter’s. 

The Feliciano family welcome her mother and daughter from Springfield, MA. Yes the mother is a minister.

Today’s readings remind us of the surety with which God’s salvation will come. The prophet Isaiah describes how God’s word powerfully accomplishes what God wants. Paul reminds the Romans that God’s Spirit is alive and at work in us. In the gospel, Jesus describes his ministry through the parable of the seeds and their various responses. This week also emphasizes how we play our stories in the world.

David Upshaw, our guest minister, is a retired Baptist minister who served 5 different churches as well as served two years in Africa.  His voice was clear and strong though he admitted that due to a birth defect that affected his voice, he had to retire from an earlier church .

Upshaw focused his sermon around two purposes about the scripture:

1. The scripture reveals the nature of God (Isaiah, Psalms). God promotes joy peace and prosperity. God’s word is one of purpose and action, speaking at creation. Nature is a witness of the power and majesty of God.

2. The scripture becomes a mirror to see who we are. Romans shows what God can do in Christ, drawing us away from our corrupt nature. Our life is hostile to God and focuses on self and not God. We need God to help bring truth and light to the word. Regrettably God’s word has lost its power the current world where people are focusing on self.

Upshaw cited the Rev. Anne Richter of St. Anne, Annapolis on a  sermon on the sower from Matthew 13 for how to change this:

“This parable could be an invitation to ask ourselves, how can we make the soil of our hearts more fertile, more ready to receive the seed that is the word of the kingdom? How can we be the good soil so we can produce grain a hundredfold, and be part of a great agricultural ripple effect that makes more and more seed, that can be sown near and far and take root in places we may never dream of? How can we clear our little patch of ground of stones and be strengthened to endure even persecution for the sake of the gospel? How can we root out the thorns of worldly busyness, worry, self-interest, pettiness, and greed, so the word of the kingdom can abide with us, settle deep in us, make a home in us, and bear fruit? These are good questions, and if being good soil is the goal, there is help for us.”

“So good soil seems to be the result of letting some stuff go, die even, perhaps getting burned away and allowing room for life-promoting organisms to do their work. The same may be said of our hearts. To be receptive to the word of the kingdom, we may need to let some old, false ideas go, die even. To let idols go or have them taken from us may feel as painful as having them burned away, but letting them become compost may be the first step in making healthier soil. Letting in life-promoting, wholeness-producing understandings of Jesus and the true nature of God’s reign can turn worthless clay into soil good for planting. We can be the good soil in which seeds take root and grow into healthy, seed-bearing grain. Who wouldn’t want to be part of making God’s bumper crop of growth and new life? “What if Jesus is not only saying to be good soil, to be open and receptive, to let dead and death-dealing ideas die, and to welcome all that is holy and life-giving to make room and a hospitable reception for the word?

What if Jesus is also saying, “Sow!” Don’t worry about whether you think the soil you’re walking over is good or bad, receptive or not. Don’t be saving up seed for the places you think will be the most fertile. This seed is so precious, it has to be shared, and there’s plenty more seed where that came from. Not every bit of fruitful sowing is going to happen in the tidy rows of our pews, although by God’s grace it can happen even there. There is so much seed to be sown. Fling it. Toss it. Share it. Get out there. Sow.”


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