Matthew 13:1-9,18-23. Today we hear of the Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13. It tells us about the various ways the world receives the word and why sometimes it sticks and often it seems not to stick. It is meant as encouragement both individually for what God’s word can yield in our own lives and also in the world for what it yields in the kingdom. Regardless of the yield, God encourages us not to give up because the yield will be there. But do think about this: is the seed even being sown into your own day to day life and through your words and deeds in the world?
Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 to come to him all who are weary and heavy burdened because they will receive his rest is a well used verse of scriptures. Christians love it for the promise it offers both them and those to whom they bring God’s mission. It’s the sort of thing we see on coffee cups, bumper stickers and even well, this pastor’s ‘business’ card. Peace, quiet, no hassles? Is that what Jesus is promising to deliver here? Today we look into what the rest that Jesus offers really is.
For the next fortnight the epistle reading covers Romans 6 in two parts. Romans 6 tells us about the ongoing role of our baptisms. Baptism is no less than union with the death and resurrection of Christ. This matters, because our sins are left behind in the grave. But what comes after is a new life where sharing his resurrected life we live like that actually matters. So we look to live in God’s way. And we come back in contrition and repentance when we don’t, thereby returning to our baptism. It’s therefore a continual life of grace that we live in, not law, even though the law shows us our need for Christ and directs us in God’s way. “Lord, thank you for giving us the mystery of life in Christ through our baptisms. Through your Spirit lead us to live our lives in committed service to you – true slaves to your righteousness. Amen.”
It strikes me that some common phrases in Christianity can lose their impact over time. Romans 5:3-5 is one. As you look at your own life, does suffering really produce endurance which produces character which produces hope? Only in a kind of more hoped for than realised way? Is the hope that comes from times of trial something that just makes you hope for a better day? Or is it hope that encourages you that your future is sound? Be honest! The alternate Psalm for today, Psalm 100, speaks of the joy of entering the house of God to praise and worship. Why does this matter to where we locate our hope? So today we’ll take a look at the wider context of the Romans text and examine how it is that its claim really can be true for us in Christ. ‘In Christ’ is the key. ‘For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues though out the generations’ (Psalm 100:5). How do we know? ‘For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).