Mother Vivian Shelby – The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, July 30, 2023

In the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

So, many parables Here we go. Jesus is teaching with parables. We all love parables. This is a huge number of parables, short parables, all at the same time. So, they are kind of paired up. 

So, the first two parables are about the growth of the kingdom of God. So, the mustard seed and the leaven. Now, if you’ve never seen a mustard seed, if you take your hand and you had a pen, and you touched it with the pen, that little tiny mark is the size of a mustard seed. They’re very very tiny. And they grow to be about 10 feet tall. That’s why they call it a tree. It’s a bush. But it’s ten feet tall. So, these two parables are talking about the comparison of what starts and how big it gets. So then the leaven, if you’re a baker, you know you can take a really small piece of dough that you’ve saved and mix it in with new ingredients and it will start the whole batch to grow. So again, small amount of leaven can build and build. Now, leaven also, then you take a piece from that bread dough and save it. And you can start a new one. So, it’s like perpetual, the growth, the potential for growth. So, we start with something small. And it grows exponentially huge So, the growth of the kingdom 

Then, the second two are about our responses to the knowledge of the kingdom of God. And this is the hidden treasure that the man bought the whole field just so he could own the treasure in the ground. And the pearl of great value. This one’s a little different because the man is actually seeking a very special pearl as opposed to just finding a treasure. And he seeks it and he finds it and he sells everything he has and he buys it. So, the kingdom, the knowledge of the kingdom is supposed to be the most precious thing that we would ever find. That we would be willing to give up everything for it. 

Then we have the net. The net that’s thrown in the sea gathers up. Everything gets sorted. So, the sorting is about sorting those who believe Jesus’s word and those who do not. But what they’re saying is God is the one who’s going to do the sorting and God is the one who’s going to do the judging. And then he asks the disciples if they understand and you know, usually they’re like, “No, we need you to explain it to us.” And this time, with all of that, they say, “Yes.” 

So, he gives them another parable and says, “Okay, if you understand then you need to be like the master of the household that brings out all of his new treasure and all of his old treasure.” Well, the new treasure is what they’ve learned in Jesus Christ. The old treasure is their tradition and their history in Judaism. And he’s saying, they’re both needed. They’re both valuable. You have to bring all of that treasure. Okay, so that’s the exegesis. 

So, what does it have to do with us? Well, I think this is incredibly relevant. So, go back to the beginning. Growth of the kingdom. Think two thousand years ago, twelve disciples, Jesus. And fast forward to today. Millions of Christians, millions. That’s like the mustard seed and the bush. Leaven, the same thing. We have seen an incredible growth in the kingdom but we’re not finished. We are called to continually help people to learn about the kingdom of God. To learn about it and they can choose whether they believe in it or not. That’s not up to us. It’s the invitation. Part of our discipleship. 

Then the second bit, about what are we supposed to do with the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven? What are we supposed to do with the knowledge? We are supposed to continue to get that knowledge and nurture it so that it is the most precious thing that we have. The knowledge of eternal life, the knowledge of salvation. And to be be surrounded with such joy to have such inner joy that we would give up everything we have just to continue to know it. 

And then the last bit about the net and the master. God casts the net. God gathers everything. God sorts bad from good. Righteous from unrighteous. Not us. None of that is our concern. When it’s going to happen. How it’s going to happen. And whether you’re in the basket or you’re thrown away. We need to trust that God knows what he’s doing. And then to be the master of the household. 

We Episcopalians love our tradition. We do, we do, we do. And that’s a beautiful thing. And it is a rock that we build on. Our worship. Our music. But the world is changing. And new things are coming up. New ways to worship. New ways to reach people who don’t come to church on Sunday. And Jesus is saying to us today, “Bring it all.” Bring out all the wisdom, all the tradition. But you have to make room for the new stuff so we can get to know younger people and how their brains work and how their hearts work. So that we can converse. And show them this precious gift of being saved and eternal life. 

So this week, sorry, long sermon. Okay, this week, think about those three things. How are we helping the growth of the kingdom of God? How are you doing in your response to the knowledge of the kingdom of God? And how are you doing trusting that God’s going to sort it all out? That God will do the judging. God will do the sorting. And then how versed are you in the old and the new? Both things that we need to bring forward to help the church. Amen.

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