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Monday, 19 January 2015

Text for 2015 - St John's Seven Kings

Most of the Bible was originally written to those living in an agrarian society, people familiar with working the land, managing livestock, and raising crops. Many of Jesus’ parables involve the farming life. Not surprisingly, then, the Bible contains many references to sowing and reaping.

At the beginning of a New Year we can look forward to the seedtime in the Spring, when the earth is warm enough and moist enough from the early rains to best guarantee the "sprouting" of the seed once it is planted in the ground, and also to the Harvest, when we reap what has been sown. The Bible encourages us, when it comes to our giving, that the more seed that is planted, the more fruit will be harvested. In other words, those who sow generously will reap more than those who don’t. But Jesus also speaks of multiplication; of seed sown that brings forth “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” A single grain produces many grains, the smallest seed grows into the largest tree, and the seeds which fell in good soil bore one hundred grains each. We are to sow generously and trust to God to bring about the multiplication.

Jesus said in Matthew 17. 20, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” When we face a lack of harvest, and that is what the mountain here represents, our first reaction is often to look at the lack. We think about the lack, rehearse the lack, talk about the lack, sometimes at great length. Jesus says, in effect, ‘don’t start with the lack, instead start with the seed. Imagine a farmer needs a thousand bushels of corn. He does not start with what he doesn’t have. He starts by sowing seed in the field, because the corn he wants will grow from the seed he plants.

When we face a lack of harvest in some area of life, instead of first trying to deal with the lack, consider first planting the seed. If, for example, we were lacking friendship would it help to lament the fact of being alone? It would be much better to try planting a seed of a smile or a helping hand.

What is the seed that we plant? Jesus said that many of his parables involving sowing and reaping were told to show us what the Kingdom of God is like. The most famous of his parables involving sowing and reaping is the Parable of the Sower in which Jesus identifies the seed as being the word of God. This is usually interpreted as meaning either the Bible or the Gospel but, if we take account of our Bible reading tonight where Jesus identifies himself as the seed, we can see that this also makes sense of the Parable of the Sower too as John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God. On this basis God the Father is the farmer who sows Jesus, his Son, into the world as the seed which is buried before bringing into being the Kingdom of God. So what is sown is life; the life of Jesus.

Jesus lived a life of generosity by living life for others and, ultimately, by dying for others. Jesus offered himself, his life, to come alive in hundreds and then in thousands and then in millions of others. But first he had to die and if we, his followers, are going to pass on his life then we too will have to learn the pattern of life through death. The Jesus way is what we are called to emulate. That is what we are to plant, the life of Jesus in the world, because it is what God the Father originally planted in order to bring the Kingdom of God into being. Sowing seeds of God in the world is not primarily about teachings or words, instead it is primarily about living life the Jesus way - the truth of being truly human as Jesus was truly human and thus at the same time truly God's.

So, the seed that we plant is our self; our life lived the Jesus way. Jesus lived a life of self-sacrifice, of service, and of love. That is what we should seek to sow, as generously as possible, through our lives. This is what Jesus says in verses which have been chosen as the Text for 2015 for St John's Seven Kings taken from John 12. 24 – 25: “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”


Bill Fay - Be Not So Fearful.

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