Seeds, yeast, treasures…

There is no recorded sermon today, only recorded scripture readings.

The Celebration of the Gospel

July 30, 2017 —8th Sunday after Pentecost

    ________We Gather as the Body of Christ______

PRELUDE    I Will Arise And Go To Jesus  Southern Folk Melody, arr: Mark Hayes

[As we listen to the music we quiet our minds and bodies,
listen for our hearts’ deepest desires,
and become present to the Holy One who is lovingly present for us.

Leader:  Creator God, we are yours; and we praise you.
All:    Crucified and Risen Christ, we are made new, and we thank you.
Holy Spirit, we live by your power alone, and we serve you.
Holy God, we come to tell the story of your grace and to sing your praise.
We come to hear your love, and to sing you love.
We come to worship.  Alleluia!

* SONG   Come, Thou Almighty King  Blue hymnal # 61


___________We Attend to the Word___________

Gracious God, you plant the seed of your grace in our hearts and among us as a people.  And your Word accomplishes what you send it for.  It bears fruit in our faith and our changed lives.  So we open our ears to your Word. We open our hearts to your Spirit.  And we open our mouths to sing forth your praise, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT   Isaiah 55.10-13
[Just as the rain falls and does not turn back around into the sky, God’s Word comes and fulfills its purpose.  We are blessed, and all Creation rejoices.]

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish the purpose I give it,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

PSALTER    Psalm 148 
[All Creation and all manner of people praise God.]

Praise the Holy One!
Praise God from the heavens;
praise God in the heights!
Praise God, all the angels;
praise God, all the host!
Praise God, sun and moon;
praise God, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Creator,
for God commanded and they were created.
God established them forever and ever;
God fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise the Holy One from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling God’s command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
Rulers of the earth and all peoples,
royalty and all leaders of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Faithful One,
for God’s name alone is exalted;
God’s  glory is above earth and heaven.
God has raised up a horn for the people;
praise for all God’s faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to God.
Praise the Holy One!

NEW TESTAMENT   Romans 8.26-39
[Paul assures us that though we don’t know how to pray, God prays in us. All things work for good: God has predestined us to be loved, to be like Christ, to be glorious with love. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.]

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit prays in us with sighs too deep for words. And God, who knows everything in our hearts, understands, because the Spirit speaks for God’s holy people according to God’s desire for us.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. For God has chosen people from the beginning to share the image of the Only Begotten, so that Christ would be the firstborn in a large family.  And when people are chosen they are called, and when they are called they are made right with God, and when they are made right with God they shine with God’s glory.

So then here’s what this means:  If God is for us, who could be against us? God did not hold back the Only Begotten, but gave Christ up for all of us; so trust that God will also give us everything else.  Who will bring any charge against God’s chosen ones?  Since it is God who justifies, who has the power to condemn? Our judgment is in the hands of Christ Jesus, who died, and yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who is on our side.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or poverty, or danger, or violence? As scripture says, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are looked on as if we are sheep to be slaughtered.”   No!  In all these things we are more than conquerors through the One who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus the Beloved.

GOSPEL  Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52
[Jesus tells various parables about the Realm of God as a valuable and fruitful treasure hidden among us, leavening our lives.  These are stories about seeking, finding, paying attention and honoring God’s presence.]

Jesus put before them another parable: “The realm of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”   +

[Imagine God’s grace as a tiny seed in you, a tiny seed among all of us, growing great.
Where do you see those seeds bearing fruit in your life?
Where do you see it in this church?

Jesus told them another parable: “The realm of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three bushels of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; he told them nothing without a parable.  +

[Imagine all of your life, even the plain, heavy parts, are leavened with God’s grace.
What does that feel like? How does it change how you see those parts of your experience?

Jesus said, “The realm of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in her joy she goes and sells all that she has and buys that field.”  +

[Imagine buying the whole field of your life, and everything in it, because God’s love is hidden there. Your whole life, even the hard parts.
What might you have to embrace to really own your life?
What might you have to give up— to “sell all you have”—to fully possess your life?

“Again,” Jesus said, “the realm of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. +

[What is that one pearl of great price for you?  What is the one thing you treasure the most?
Are you willing to give up everything else for it?

Again, the realm of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the realm of heaven is like the householder who brings out of their treasure what is new and what is old.”

[When God’s grace enters your life it leads you to make new choices.
What are the new things you are called to embrace?
What are old things you need to let go of?


* AFFIRMATION OF FAITH      from Romans 8   Blue hymnal #887

* RESPONSE   Holy, Holy    Black hymnal #203

[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

______ We Are Sent in Ministry to the World_____

OFFERING OUR GIFTS   O Love That Will Not Let Me Go   arr: Mark Hayes

*  OFFERING SONG    Give Thanks   Black hymnal  #2036

Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts.  Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will.  May the yeast of your grace leaven our lives. May the seed of your love bear fruit in our service. May all of our lives be a song of praise to you for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


*  SONG    I’ll Fly Away   Black hymnal #2282

RESPONSE    We stand and sing to our neighbors:
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you my friends.
Go and share the love of God, love that never ends.

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord     Tune: ST THOMAS, arr: Robert W. Thygerson

[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]

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