A Service Of The Word And

Celebration of the Lord’s Table

(Condensed online version)


June 13, 2021

.

         

Pastor: Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel. Hosanna in the highest.



GREETING


Pastor: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you

Assembly:   And also, with you


Pastor: The risen Christ is with us

Assembly: Praise the Lord


OPENING PRAYER


Pastor: Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ the Lord.

Amen



PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE


PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION


          

Pastor: Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of the Holy Spirit, that, as the Scriptures are read and your word proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today.



LITURGY OF THE WORD



FIRST READING Ezekiel 17: 22-24


A reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel.


Thus says the Lord GOD: I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.

Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom. As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.


Reader: The Word of the Lord.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.



SECOND READING 2 Corinthians 5: 6-10


A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.


Brothers and sisters: We are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to  lease him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.


Reader: The Word of the Lord.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.



GOSPEL Mark 4:26-34


Minister: The Lord be with you.

Assembly: And with your spirit.

Minister: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark.

Assembly: Glory to you, O Lord.


Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.


Minister: The Gospel of the Lord.

Assembly: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ



SERMON


Redbirds, Seeds, and Weeds: What You See Is Not All You Get


We live in a world that mostly believes what you see is what you get. We trust our eyes to reveal what is real and what is true. For most of us, I suspect, this is our default attitude and orientation to other people, our relationships, and the circumstances of our lives. This approach certainly has its benefits. It is easier, definitive, and more efficient. It is not, however, without problems. A what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude assumes that life is limited to physical and tangible realities. It keeps us skimming across the surface of life. It puts humanity at the center of life as the final interpreter and arbiter.


We tend to see what we want to see, what we have been taught or told to see, and what we expect to see. Just because we look at the same thing doesn’t necessarily mean we see the same thing. Three eye witnesses to an accident will most often tell three different stories of what they saw.


I remember taking my younger son to the bird park one afternoon when he was four or five years old. We walked the trails, talked, laughed, and played. Walking back to the truck he said, “Do you see that bird on the pole?” “Yes,” I said. “He is red and very noisy.” To me it looked just like any other redbird, but not to Randy. “He’s talking to me,” he said. “He doesn’t want me to leave. He wants me to stay here with you.” He saw much more than a noisy redbird. He saw a relationship, love, security, and contentment. He was willing to see in a different way.


What we see is determined not so much by the thing seen but by how we see. I am convinced that a primary purpose of holy scripture and sacred doctrine is not just to tell us what to see but to teach us how to see. Paul reminds the Corinthians that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Samuel looked on Eliab and thought he was the Lord’s anointed, the next king after Saul. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’” (1 Sam. 16:6-7).


Too often human-seeing is outwardly focused and appearance based. God-seeing, however, is inwardly focused and heart based. This is not a rejection of outward and visible appearances but the recognition that our life and world is not limited to what we see. For every outward appearance we see there is a deeper inner reality.


A what-you-see-is-what-you-get way of living is too limited, narrow, and small. It cannot reveal the fullness of God’s life and presence among us. It offers no hope for reconciliation, forgiveness, healing, and transformation. It says to us, “This is as good as it gets.” If that’s how we see our life and the world then we might need to learn to see differently. God-seeing reveals that in Christ there is a new creation, everything old has passed away, everything has become new (2 Cor. 5:17).


We are always being invited into a deeper seeing. That’s what Jesus’ parables are about. They are the lens that aligns human-seeing with God-seeing. They give us a glimpse into God’s kingdom even as we look at the things of this world. Parables ask us to see in a different way. They rarely give answers. Instead they sharpen our focus and cultivate a deeper vision. Parables ask us to let go of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get world and trust that what we see is not all there is. There is always something more going on than what we see. That something more is the kingdom of God.


The kingdom of God is already planted in creation. God is always at work in our lives like a seed scattered upon the earth. As a seed does its seed thing so the kingdom does its kingdom thing. We may not understand it. Outward appearances may even suggest God is absent. It may look like nothing is happening. We sleep and rise. We wait. We trust. We hope. We pray. We go about the ordinary work of life. Within that ordinariness the life of God has already been planted in each one of us. One day it sprouts. It grows. The invisible becomes visible. The full harvest was always there hidden in the seeds. It may have been invisible but it was never absent. We now see what has always been.

Compared to the needs of the world and the circumstances of our lives the kingdom can often look small, insignificant, and inadequate; like a mustard seed. Looks, however, can be deceiving. It is only an optical illusion. The kingdom will take over.


In first century Palestine mustard was considered a weed. Jesus compares the kingdom with a weed. As weeds take over, so does the kingdom of God. You can refuse to plant it. You can pull it up. You can cut it down. Regardless, it is there and it keeps coming back. No person or circumstance is ever Godforsaken.


The redbirds, seeds, and weeds of life are everywhere. Don’t just look at what you see. Look at what is there. Look again if you need to. Look more deeply. Change how you see. Behind every redbird, seed, and weed is the faithfulness, promise, and power of God to change lives.



RESPONSE TO THE WORD


OUR FATHER


Pastor: At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say:

Assembly: Our 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.


Pastor: Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Assembly: For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.



LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST


Pastor: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.

Assembly: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.



ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION


Assembly: My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. 

Amen. (St. Alphonsus Liguori)



PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION


Pastor: Eternal God, We give you thanks for this Holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. 

Amen



CONCLUDING RITE


          FINAL BLESSING AND DISMISSAL


Pastor: The Lord be with you.

Assembly: And with your spirit.


Pastor: The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Amen.


Pastor: Go in peace.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.

0