The Parable of the Sower

A parable (Greek for “turn around or turn aside”) is a story that leads you to an unexpected conclusion and a different way of thinking about something.  It usually has a shock value.  If the parable that you hear in the Bible doesn’t shock you, then I think you don’t fully understand it.
In this parable, there is a story, but originally (at least for me), there is no shock.  I hear it and go, ok, I get it.  We all do different things with the grace we have been given.  So where is the shock?  As a farmer in Jesus day, they grow a crop and careful divide a portion of the harvest to save for seed next planting season.  You don’t want to place too much seed aside and have some left over, because you could have sold it and made money.  You don’t want to place aside too little and jeopardize the size of next year’s crop.  So, you want to make a thrifty decision with what seed is going to be saved for next year’s planting.  When next year comes, the sower is very deliberate and stingy with the precious seed.  He certainly does not want to waste any.  Yet this sower is careless with the seed and throws it on a path and rocky ground.  This carelessness would have gotten the ire of the farmer’s listening.  Why wouldn’t the sower just sow only on the fertile soil?  The carelessness of the sower would have driven the sowers that heard this “crazy.”
Jesus is saying that he gives everyone a chance to get the seed and to grow.  He is generous with his seed. The seed is his responsibility and the growing is our responsibility.  He may even know that the seed might be wasted, but Jesus will give us a chance with the hope that some crop will grow.
Pastor Gerry
The Gospel Reading: MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Come Unto Me…

This picture is of those that are weary with heavy burdens.  These people have been devalued, displaced, with nowhere to go.  They have only what is on their backs and what they are carrying which isn’t much.  Worst yet, they can’t see the future being good for them. Everything we can see from this picture and what we know tells the tale of extreme outside pressure that weighs these people down.  Through no fault of their own, they are caught and they can’t get out of it.  I think this is the extreme of being weary and with heavy burdens. 
These people cannot change their fate.  What happens to them depends on the saving grace of other people.  They need someone to step in and help them.  Someone that will give them rest and a new start.
Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and with heavy burdens and I will give you rest for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
            From the extreme situations of these pictures, we can see the people’s burdens thrust upon them and we can understand the need for grace from others.  That is the point for us this morning.  But this pattern is not just for such extreme situations.  We are all captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We can fool ourselves that we are pretty good, but we have an inherent selfishness.  Some people think because of their success or accomplishments that they are above and beyond sin. Today we hear St. Paul talk about this and Jesus offer a promise of grace for us.  This promise lightens our load.  It gives us hope.  Let’s see.  

Pastor Gerry

The Gospel Reading: : MATTHEW 11:16-19, 25-30

 Jesus said to the crowd, “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
        ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
       “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Summer Picnic

Summer Picnic – July 30, 2017

In case you haven’t noticed, we are scheduling a church pot-luck or picnic once a month. Why not! The Holy Trinity Birthday Party was blessed with great participation and lively conversation, not to mention, a Semi-Annual Congregation Meeting.

Our next one will be on July 30. It will be hosted by Mark Knauff and Jay Tobias from Thrivent. Why would I bring an insurance company in to talk with us? Thrivent is the company that used to be known as Lutheran Brotherhood or Aid Association for Lutherans. They have since diversified into serving all people with their products. But they are a mutual company, meaning they give their profits back to the community. Thrivent has programs that help us share the gospel. Specifically, they have this program called “Action Teams.” Each member can have two action teams per year and be funded with $250.00 to help implement a project. So, with God’s Work Our Hands, we can get $250.00 for each member involved to buy supplies (tee shirts) to make the event more noticeable or to reach our objective. Just think what we could do with the Oktoberfest!

We need to know how we can connect with Thrivent to make our mission happen. So, they will be here to tell us all about the “Thrivent Action Teams.” I hope we will enjoy the hot dogs and hamburgers, and learn how we can partner with them to reach more people in our mission of making Christ known. Please come and enjoy the fun! Pastor Gerry

Summer Reading

I have a couple of books that are great books about churches that have been successful and prosperous. Reading church books can be interesting and fun. Most of them are short easy reads. Come to my office and pick up a spare copy. Here are some recommendations:

It, How Churches and Leaders can get It and Keep It, by Craig Groeschel
This is a book about the presence of the Holy Spirit within a church and how we need to focus on hosting the Holy Spirit in our churches in what we do and say.

Speaking Christian, by Marcus Borg
This is a great book to open our eyes to how we speak about God and what that says about what we believe. There are other ways to speak about and understand God within our realm of Christianity. This will challenge us to see the similarities.

Change your Church for Good, by Brad Powell
This book talks about good change. It talks about keeping the important things important. You would be surprised how much churches lose focus on that.

Making a Good Church Great, by Steve Sjogren
This book is about how to develop a service culture in your church and live it out. This book really gets the reader to the heart of joyful service to others.

Power Surge, by Michael Foss
This is a book about spiritual development of people and of a church. It is a simple book that highlights what a Christian does to be a Christian. It is really a wonderful model for Christian living.

I also have spiritual development books and Bible books that are great. Just stop by if you want some great summer reading.

Pastor Gerry

Our Role in the Kingdom of God

As we know what the Kingdom of God is, how it works and that that it has the ability to be visible through us, what is it that we are supposed to do?  Is just being in the Kingdom of God enough?

I think that if we see the Kingdom of God and are part of it, then it is pretty hard to keep this discovery to ourselves.  We can’t go around like pious angels and say we are worthy because God has revealed himself to us.  We can’t be satisfied that God is here and we all are happy.  Frankly, I do not think God would be satisfied with that either.  In fact, biblically, Jesus says so—a zillion times.  Today, Jesus tells us to go be fishers of people.  We think of the happy pictures of a great catch and we think that it is all fun and joy.  We may even think if we don’t catch a fish that we are not cut out to be a fisher of people.  But what is fishing like really and what do you think Jesus said and the disciples understood about fishing for people?  Today we may find out a little more and we hope it makes us be better fishers ourselves.

Pastor Gerry

The Gospel Reading: : MATTHEW 4:18-25

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

KingdomOfGod, Virginia… Where is it?

The Kingdom of God is within you.
To be clearer, maybe we should say the power of the Kingdom of God is revealed through you.  Yes, God works through all of us to reveal his kingdom.  Sometimes we know it.   Sometimes we don’t.  Most of the times it is after something happened that we look back and say, “What just happened there?  That wasn’t my intent.  That wasn’t me that made that happen—there were too many other factors.”  That is the power of the Kingdom of God.
When we realize that we are the vehicles that the work of God gets done, we pause and we start asking questions.  What is God doing through me now?  What is it that God could do through me?  How do I make myself ready to do what God needs to spread the gospel?  These are all the tough questions that prime us for our next mission whether we know it or not.
Today, we talk about the parable of the mustard seed ( an underestimated parable of the Kingdom of God)  to lead us in an understanding of the power of the Kingdom of God within us.

Pastor Gerry

Nats Game, Anyone?

The deal is that we can get in and out of DC easily during the day, so day games are ideal!  If you are interested in the Thursday, July 27 game with Milwaukee or the August 16 game with the Angels, we will get tickets from $25-$40 dollar range, unless people want better seats.  Please let Pastor Gerry know by July 9.  Adults and youth are welcome.  Take me out to the ball game!  Come along and  watch Harper hit a home run!

KingdomOfGod, Virginia

Kingdom of God, Virginia
On Sunday June 18, June 25, and July 3 we will have a Sermon Series on the Kingdom of God. The reason that I picked this topic is that I think that we need to be reminded that the presence of God is around us and part of us---or at least part of what we are trying to do individually or as a church.  If we understand that God is trying to show himself in his kingdom, here in Leesburg, VA through us that may help us in our self-understanding as we begin our planning process.

What is it like?

More than anything else, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is like….this.   But it is still so fuzzy.  We feel the need to ask the come down to earth questions: Who? What? Where? Why? And How?  That is because Jesus doesn’t give us a tangible picture.  Why is that (oops!)?   The next Three weeks we will talk about that. We will explore how God works among us and how God is revealed to us in all the Kingdom of God moments that we experience.  
This week, we will be talking about what the Kingdom of God is like.  Where is it? How do we see it?  And maybe it is more tangible than we thought.  So maybe the Kingdom of God will be near this Sunday morning, you won’t know unless you see for yourself.  Let us find out together.
Pastor Gerry

What is the Holy Trinity?

Did you ever think about what the Holy Trinity is?  Yes, we know it is the God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Yes, we know that it is three persons in one God.  But really, besides that what are they?  They are the way God reveals himself to us.  We see Him in the result of creation.  We see Him in our Savior, Jesu Christ, and we see Him in the good that surrounds us.  God is everywhere.  Always coming, always breaking out, always finding new ways to reveal to us that something else besides ourselves is going on.  Also, in the Trinity, the most important characteristic about God is revealed: Relationship.  God enjoys and thrives in the eternal relationship of God in the Trinity.  Perhaps that is a good example for us as we enjoy and live in our relationships too.
As we celebrate our Holy Trinity birthday party, think about what the Holy Trinity mean to us.  What is about the Holy Trinity that guides us or grounds us?  What do we have in the guiding light of a name for our community as Holy Trinity Lutheran Church?