This sermon was given by Rev Sue on Wednesday 24 July. You can read it again here:
We’ve just heard one of the best-known parables of Jesus. It speaks of the sower sowing the seed. Some of the seed was eaten by birds, some choked by weed, some didn’t have enough soil to send down roots. But some produced flourishing plants that themselves produced plenty of grain.
The seed that fell on the path was quickly eaten up by the birds. To put it another way, the Word of God goes in one ear and comes out the other. We listen and then we forget. The trouble is that there is so much going on in our brains that we struggle to retain the important things. So, what is it for you that is flotsam and jetsam, the trivial things that keep us from the things we would like to be thinking about? One way we drive out thoughts about the kingdom is to avoid silence. The radio or the television goes on, or we use social media. Not bad things in themselves, but they can fill the space where God can speak to us. Next week, or at the end of August, some of us will be going on retreat. That is an ideal opportunity to commit ourselves to times when we are alone with our thoughts. Even if we do not specifically pray in that time, we give God the chance to speak. Or take a passage of scripture – anything that strikes you. Read it slowly and sit with it until it sinks in. Let the seed take root. If you can’t be with us on retreat, perhaps you could still set some time aside for God.
I had read the readings and had this sermon at the back of my mind when a friend, Steve, told me about some friends of his. They lived in a large family home, but one by one the children had left to set up homes themselves. They were getting older, and it was time to downsize, so they moved to a small bungalow. Steve offered to help take the things they didn’t need to the tip. “No”, they said, “we are taking it all”. Steve visited their new house. Every wall was lined with cardboard boxes piled high. There was scarcely room to sit comfortably. To get something out would require finding the right box, shifting the ones on top of it, and then sorting through. Repeat if you didn’t get the right box first time. That is an extreme case of when attachment to things might impede our quality of life. Imagine how you would feel living like that. I would find focusing on spiritual issues in that environment very difficult. Do you have clutter that is taking up your emotional energy and sapping the strength you could be using for better things? Do possessions crowd out the Word of God?
In Lent this year we used this book for our discussion group. One chapter is called The Deep Yes. It starts like this.
Here I read a story about how the best Christmas the author had ever had was one when there was a power cut. No television. Candles and an open fire. Conversation, togetherness and games.
Deep is about relationship, connection and engaging.
How could you move to a deeper life? It’s what church is all about. God made the physical world and he wants us to engage with it. In church we meet face to face, sing, eat bread and wine, engage with our neighbours and cherish our world. Watching a service on TV or a website is watching, not being. Virtual church just doesn’t work. We need deep soil to put down our roots.
Distractions mental or physical can keep us from God. A superficial existence can deprive the word of God from the soil to nourish it. But the opportunity is there for a deeper, more satisfying relationship with God, the opportunity to flourish and to lead fruitful and meaningful lives.