Welcome to your online worship from St. Mark’s for Sunday July 16, 2023.
First, I will be away on holiday for the next two weeks. The Rev’d Canon Dr. Darcey Lazerte will be covering Sunday Services while I am away. Your contact person for pastoral emergences will Debbie Belowitz and she will be supported by clergy in our community as needed. You will be in good hands, and I will return August 1st.
Second, in this weeks sermon I speak about a type of farming called “Natural Farming.” A foundational principle of the natural farming philosophy, founded by Masanobu Fukuoka, is to introduce harvestable plants into the existing life of a piece of land and with the least amount of intervention to discover what harvestable plants will grows there in harmony with the life that is already living there. There is no tilling or plowing, no adding of fertilizer or pesticide, and minimal weeding, instead the natural farmer seeks harmony between all the life living there so that all life thrives including their harvestable plants.
There is a wonderful and beautiful short film on “natural farming” or “do-nothing farming” here at this YouTube link. Also, here is an article about the work and philosophy of its founder, Masanobu Fukuoka.
Today’s Opening Sentence
“The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”- Deuteronomy 30.14
Today’s Reading – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”1
Your Online Message and Prayers
Click on the above image to view our online worship on YouTube.
Reflection questions for the week:
- The hardened ground of the path could be symbolic of busyness of our lives. We keep moving and stay busy and God’s message for us bounces off and has little chance of getting our attention or stopping us to consider what Good News God might have for us. Have there been times in your life, or in the lives of those around you that you see this happen?
- The rocky ground, where the sowers seeds fall, could be symbolic in our lives of they times when our good intentions are upended by challenge and hardship. Life is hard and sometimes it can become harder when our world goes one way and we let go of being the person we hoped to be. How have you faced those moments and how have you found your way back to follow God’s will for you?
- The choking, weedy, thorns of this world are not too hard to imagine. Our consumer culture can infest large parts of our lives and influence us in ways that are not healthy. Can you identify some of these earthly weeds that grow around you? How might you clear some of those weeds from your thinking and from your life?
- Thank goodness for the “good soil” in our lives. These are the places where we have felt the powerful work of love and goodness in our lives. What fruits and bountiful harvests have you had in your life? And what good fruits are you currently witnessing in your life today?
This week music is provided by Ryan Van Dijk, our Music Director, and the choir. Thank you to them all for their ministry of music!
A continued reminder that if you are at all uncomfortable being in-person for worship, or if you are not feeling well, please join us here online.
Thank you again for joining with your parish family in our online worship today.
Find out how you can support our ministry and good work in the community here.
God Bless you and have a blessed week. Be well!
The Rev’d Canon Rob Park
- Scripture quotation is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.