Saturday, July 12, 2008

Structure of the Sermon

Opening with question -- how do we begin to look like (smell like) God?

Parables -- Not Aesop's Fables

Parable for the Day -- the Foolish Sower

Three "things" or "people" in this Parable
  • Seed
  • Sower
  • Soil
Seed -- What IS the seed? (Word of God; Word = Gospel/Jesus; what does it look like? Words/actions)

First part of lection tells us something about the Sower

Sower -- Foolish Sower! Sows like there is 1) no end to seed 2) no end to time 3) no end to patience. (Story about my Dad/centipede grass seed)

Second part -- Jesus tells us about the Soil and how the soil receives the seed -- question: what kind of Soil are we?

Soil -- 4 kinds; hard packed; shallow; thorn choked; good (talk about the difference between Soil and Dirt)

Hard Packed by the path -- the pathways in our hearts are too hard packed; the seed just sits on the surface and the birds swoop in and steal it before it has a chance to germinate.

Shallow -- the soil receives the seed gladly; but it's too rocky and too shallow; the Word only survives for a short time, it's roots are too close to the surface; they get dried out by the hot sun and it wilts under the pressure.

Thorn-choked -- the soil receives the seed gladly; the roots begin to grow and sink into the earth, the fragile little leaves reach out toward the sky ... and then the cares of the world choke the little plant out before it can bear any fruit -- worries about money -- or even the love of money and material possessions and power and prestige. These big nasty thorns choke the little plant.

Good Soil -- But some of the seed falls onto good soil that receives the seed gladly -- it creates a HUGE harvest; not just 10 fold but 30, 60 even 100 fold!

What kind of soil are you going to present to God? (Story about Larry McMurtry) Larry's dad knew one place deeply. What place are you going to know deeply? Are you going to stick to the road? Stay in a ditch? Dwell among the briars? Or are you going to dig deep, enrich your life with the fertilizer of prayer and study? With the gentle waters of a baptized community? With the glorious light of God's presence? Dare we become good soil? (Challenge question)

Word of Hope -- God does not waste anything (personal theology) Story about old seeds in Monastery and sweetgum trees in gutters.

(Note: I tend to have a rather free form sermon style. Tom Long taught me that a sermon should be prepared, not written. So I tend to take into the pulpit an outline (which I usually never look at) and three or four pages containing stories, quotes and illustrations. I know where I want the stories to go -- I just use the sheet as a sort of prop to read from to demonstrate that this is NOT my story. And each time I do a sermon, it's different. This is just the way I do it -- mileage may vary.)

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