Saturday, 16 January 2016

Sermon 17 January Hidden in Plain Sight

Mark 4:1-34

I think most folks love a story; and a story with a happy ending, or a moral or an interesting twist is even better.
We understand the idea of stories; they paint a picture with words; they can give us insight – try getting three people who all attended the same event tell you their story of being involved – three different version; all telling you about the same. Each correct in its own way; yet each unique.
And actually, generally if you ask someone to tell you their story, they will very happily tell you all about them, their life, loves and losses.

Jesus clearly loved a story too; stories with meaning; stories which made the hearer think.
Stories which were for everyone to hear; but not necessarily for everyone to understand.

This group of parables about seeds and growth and light and dark; about hearing and seeing; and knowing and not knowing disturb me somewhat… some folks refer to the Messianic Secret. They suggest that the reason Jesus talked in riddles was already a sorting; a discerning. It disturbs me because this sifting of who is in and who is out at such an early stage seems uncompromising, biased, inflexible or partial. And I guess I don’t like to think Jesus was more partial to some than others…
Who would understand? Who would get it?
Would they ask for an explanation, or were they just hanging round hoping to see something magical and mysterious?

When we hear the parables we can immediately envision what is happening; we see the field; the farmer; the seed drill.
We have all seen the collection of stones piles at the side of a field – when they are churned up by the plough the farmer will gather them together and leave them at the side… some things never change. So as the seed is sown some will fall to the side where the stones are; some will fall at the boundary where the thorny hedges are; some will fall to the middle where the farmer travels and tramples with the plough – and the rest will fall in the rich dark earth.
We can see it; we can visualise it…
It’s the same with the lamp; and with seeds – tiny, tiny seeds will yield relatively huge plants; time and time again.

Each parable; each story has the obvious meaning: the retelling of an age-old custom. Each also has a more subtle nuance.
Hearing God’s Word is one thing – living it out can be another thing all together
Being blessed with God’s gifts and talents is one thing – using them, letting them shine out can be something else again!

Jesus wanted people to know and understand about God’s love; God’s promises; Jesus also knew that people are fickle.
People are easily influenced; people follow one crowd this day and are just as likely to follow a different crowd the next.
People break promises; turn away from a Good Thing; people, can be just as likely to land in the good soil as they are to land among the stones or thorns.

As we discovered last week; Jesus had crowds and crowds of people following
Some wanted to see the wonders
Some wanted to hear the stories
Some just wanted to not be left behind
And some wanted to know more; dig deeper; seek the answers
Jesus had identified the ones who would be his inner circle; the ones he would spend more time with, sharing more, explaining more, telling more until they might find a glimmer of what it was that they were hearing.

Jesus knew it would take time – years – before they began to grasp what it was really about. And even at the end; when all was revealed, they still wouldn’t quite get it… but they’d try.

Jesus spoke in riddles; the truth about God was there, but hidden. Seen but unknown; the stories have their own value, but greater than that they point us to God; to an encounter with God – if we will let it happen…

Think for a moment of your own story.

Your history – events which stand out for you – meeting someone new; conversations which come back to touch you; birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and funerals… and the ordinary everyday things.
Work and leisure
Rest and activity
With others and alone

These are your stories – and if you can let it happen, God can speak to you. It may only be the faintest whisper
It may be a tiny glimmer
Or is may be a brilliant shining beacon blaring….

Think of your stories
All the chapters of your life
The people who have come and gone and left a mark on your soul…

Listen for God
In every chapter of your life
In every story
Every parable
Every tiny seed; hidden deep and waiting to grow…

Listen, look, wait for God
And God will be there


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