Sermon: June 14th, 2009

15 06 2009

Also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Mark 4:26-34

You know, I’ve got a question for you this morning.  Let’s just suppose for a second that God commissioned you to write a parable for Him – a parable that was somehow to talk about the power and the might and the majesty of God.  And then let’s further suppose that you were to pick out of creation something – something that would stand for the power and the might and the majesty of God.  What would you use in your story.  I thought of a tree.  Trees can be pretty imposing.  Maybe I would use a Giant California Red Wood or a Sequoia.  You know, I have seen pictures of these giant trees that reach high in the sky – wide enough for a car to drive through them.  Yeah, but maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea.  After all maybe not a lot of people here in Ohio haven’t been out to California so that wouldn’t mean a lot.  Perhaps a giant Oak Tree.  Most of us have seen mighty Oaks.  Majestic.  Tall.  Yeah, but this is Ohio.  Perhaps we should use the mighty Buckeye Tree.  We have all seen the mighty Buckeye.

Now the reason that I am mentioning this is because of one of the parables that Jesus tells.  He wants to show the power of faith that can unleash the majestic power and love of God.  And what does He use?  A mustard seed.  Yeah, but that is a great point.  The Mustard Seed is this tiny, teeny little seed, and yet when it is planted it becomes this huge shrub – big enough for birds to make their nests in it.  Yeah.  OK.  But it is still a shrub.  I mean, I don’t know about you, but shrubs don’t inspire awe in me.  I mean I have shrubs in front of my house.  I think they look nice.  They make my house look good.  But I don’t think that I have ever once stepped back when I was outside and said to myself, “Wow, just look at the shrub.  Isn’t that magnificent?”  It’s just a shrub.  Kind of ordinary looking.

But have you ever noticed how God takes the ordinary and makes it extra-ordinary.  I mean take a look at Gonxha Agnes.  She was born in 1910 in Skopje, Albania.  Not a very imposing girl.  Small in stature.  But a girl of tremendous faith and commitment to the Lord.  At the age of 18 she became a nun and took the name Mary Teresa.  Sister Mary committed her life to the poor of her adopted country.  And through her God did great things.  Oh, by the way, if you haven’t figured out who Sister Mary was, she did most of her work on the streets of Calcutta.  Eventually she dropped the name Mary and simply became known as Mother Teresa.  A tiny shrub who God turned into a mighty Redwood.

Of this tiny woman it was said:

Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor,” she said. She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.”

Or we could look at the life of Paul.  Not a very imposing man.  He describes himself as short and not a very pleasant person to look at.  He walked with a very noticeable limp.  And yet through this man the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taken from the Temple in Jerusalem to the courts of Rome.  And some even think that Paul travelled as far as to France and Spain.  Paul – this very unimposing man – took Christianity from being a sect within Judaism to being a world-wide faith.

Why do you think that God uses such shrubs as Mother Teresa or Paul?  Why doesn’t He go out and find a few Oak Trees or Giant Redwoods?  Why does He always seem to pick the shrubs?

Because I think that God is trying to make a point.  He is trying to say that great things happen not because the people are great.  Great things happen not because we are so charismatic.  Great things happen because He is so charismatic.  Great things happen because God is great.  Great things happen because His power is great.  Great things happen because He is a God of power and might.  Great things happen because He is a Redwood.  He is a mighty Oak.  Great things happen because He can take even shrubs like us and through us make great things happen.  The only question is, are we willing to become mighty shrubs in the Garden of God?  Are we willing to say, “Here I am Lord.  Send Me.  Send Me.”

Maybe you look at yourself and say, “There is nothing special about me.  There is nothing that I can do.”  Remember also the story of Moses in Exodus 17.  The people of Israel were in a pitched battle with the Amelkites.  God had told Moses to hold up his arm and stretch it out.  As long as his arm was stretched out the Israelites were winning.  When his arm became tired, they began to loose.  When Aaron and Hur saw what was happening, they came and stood next to Moses and held up his arms.

For every Moses the world receives from God, there are also Aarons and Hurs.  There are those shrubs who stand next to the Might Oaks and hold up their arms.  Maybe you aren’t a Moses.  But you can certainly be an Aaron or a Hur.  Through you God can do miracles.  Through you the power and the might of God can be seen.  Maybe you aren’t a mighty Oak or a Redwood, but with God you can be a mighty shrub.  What miracles are waiting inside of you?  What great things are there waiting to be born?

Amen!

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