July 26 Worship Service

Our July 26 Sunday outdoor worship service will be available on video through Facebook when technical issues are resolved. It will be shown here when possible.

The August 2 worship service will be held in our church sanctuary with members and friends in attendance. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.

We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.

July 26 Sermon
1 Kings 3:5-12 | Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39 | Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Last week, Jesus gave us a parable, the famous “Wheat and the Tares.” This week, we have five parables. Actually, I’m leaning towards six parables. I think that analogy about scribes in verse 52 may well be a parable as well. But, there is a mixed decision on that one among biblical scholars. But, I’m leaning towards that one also being a parable.

He leads off with the mustard seed. Last year, as you all recall, we had Luke’s account of the mustard seed, and having the faith of a mustard seed, which is kind of confusing. What kind of faith does a mustard seed have? The mustard seed story is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. John doesn’t have it. But, Matthew is a bit different from the other two gospel writers. He doesn’t have the faith of the mustard seed, but rather a comparison of the kingdom of heaven as a mustard seed. That is a different tack. In fact, all of the parables this morning are analogies about the kingdom of heaven.

What does a mustard seed have to do with the kingdom of heaven? Everyone look at the bulletin, and find in the writing, a period. That is about the size of a mustard seed (they are usually a little bit smaller actually). They are nothing to write home about. But, they are loaded with potential. Put a mustard seed in the ground, add some water and sunlight, and stand back. Back home in California, where the central valleys are loaded with mustard. And I have seen mustard plants over 4 feet high. And, yes, I have seen mustard plants with bird nests in them. I found something even better than a mustard seed, which Jesus didn’t have access to in Palestine. This year, I planted hummingbird vine. The seed is about the same size as a mustard seed, but flat. And when they grow, they can cover 25 feet. Plus, they can feed the birds of the air. Their flowers (trumpets) are loaded with nectar. They might be as good as a mustard seed as an illustration. However, with a little vinegar, you can take mustard seeds and grind them up and make something that goes really well on a hot dog. They are amazing. There is a lot of potential to that little seed. It goes well beyond our wildest expectations of such a little thing. And, I think that that is the point which Jesus is making. The kingdom of heaven is well beyond what we expect. That holds for the rest of the parables.

Mix some yeast into flour, cover and put in a warm place, and watch out. It will swell to twice and three times its size. Punch it down, and it will swell again. All from these little tiny microscopic organisms which biologists are still arguing about what they really are! They can also go a very long way to adding flavors to your breads, try some San Francisco Sourdough bread sometime, my favorite. The kingdom of heaven is like that too. It grows and grows, try to knock it back, and it keeps on growing, and as members of it, we add flavor to this world.

The hidden treasure in a field, run out and buy that field! Think of the words of the hymn, “All is built on our possessing.” And the pearl of great price, sell all that you have and get that pearl. Translation, the single most important thing for us should be the kingdom of heaven. All other things pale in comparison. It is the must have of this life, and the next.

Then the kingdom of heaven is like a net which brings in a great catch of fish. Normally, I think of the Gospel as a great net which brings in a great catch, but Jesus here uses it for the kingdom. True, the Gospel draws people into the kingdom. But Jesus here speaks of the kingdom of heaven bringing all fish, both good and bad, large and small. Then, they must be separated righteous from the wicked. So, it is a bit different. Belief in Christ, and his Gospel, makes us all righteous, that is the faith which we believe and baptize into. But, here, I think Jesus has jumped ahead to what we like to call Judgment Day, when all will be judged righteous or not. But, that is not really our concern. It is a task for the angels. Our job is to get into that net, buy that field, purchase that great pearl, and trust in God’s judgment.

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes,” which just goes to show you that people have been lying for a long time. I don’t think that I get all of this. But, I hope that I am close. And pray that God will forgive if I am wrong. But that again is what we trust in, God’s willingness to forgive us for Christ’s sake. We may not fully understand Jesus’ teachings, especially some of the deeper aspects of his parables, but we trust, pray and believe in Christ’s merit and love for us. For, he is the pearl of great price, and the treasure hidden in the field. Jesus is the old and the new treasure, the Alpha and the Omega. Through our faith in him, and the promises of our baptism into Him, we have received the promise of the kingdom of heaven, of which, Christ himself is the guarantee. To Christ the giver of the promise of the kingdom; and God the Father, the giver of all things, be all praise and glory.
Pastor Rose

July 19 Worship Service

Our July 19 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. Our social spacing seating arrangement assures minimal risk. Due to technical difficulties, the service is shown in two parts. Click on the two pictures in order below.

Click on picture to view video part 1
Click on picture to view video part 2

The July 26 worship service will be held at 9 am on our church lawn with members and friends in attendance. Bring a lawn chair. In case of rain, we will move inside. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.

We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.

Sermon, July 19
Isaiah 44:6-8 | Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25 | Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

I, like many of you, have a garden. I like to see the flowers come up, as well as the herbs and vegetables. But, there is that phenomenon, besides squirrels, where you plant something. You watch to see when it sprouts. It does, along with a couple of other things. And you aren’t sure which are the weeds and which ones are what you planted. This is especially true when the plants are small. The only thing to do really, is wait until they get bigger, and are easier to identify. You don’t want to tear up what you planted, the squirrels will do that for you! However, I’ve also learned, at least in my garden that the weeds grow faster, and heartier, than what I planted and wanted to grow. I think that it’s part of Murphy’s Law – the worst will happen at the worst possible time. I do have a solution to a section of my garden this year. It’s called the lawn mower. That will take care of the whole issue.

Today’s Gospel lesson is usually called, “The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares,” or sometimes, it is just called “the Parable of the Weeds.” So, when we hear this text, most of us ask ourselves some questions, like “What is a Tare?” or “So what if there are dandelions in a wheat field? What does that have to do with religion?” Actually, the lesson today is quite a bit deeper than would appear on the surface, and it shows that once again, Jesus knew an awful lot about agriculture. The weeds he describes in the parable aren’t dandelions; that would be too easy. Jesus, in the Greek names a specific plant. They are tares, but, virtually no one calls this plant “tares” anymore. Remember, languages change over time. This one has had 2,000 years to change. Although, I think that tare is a good name for it in English. You want to tear it out!

The weed in question is more commonly now called “Darnel.” And it is a member of the rye family. It is also sometimes called “Cockle.” The problem with this particular plant is that as it grows, it looks almost identical to wheat. Wheat and rye can look very similar – for a while. You can’t really tell them apart until the head of grain develops, then darnel’s head is black. The other problem with darnel is that it is toxic, and too much of it can kill a person. My favorite name for this plant isn’t darnel nor cockle, it is its French name “ivraie,” which if you speak French, you know that ivraie means “drunk.” Drunk, because if you accidently eat a little bit of it, you start acting as if you are drunk, intoxicated. Eat more of it, and you die. It is probably one of the members of the rye family which can get ergot, a fungus which can cause these symptoms. Another problem with this plant, which shows us that Jesus knew his agriculture, and picked this illustration carefully, is that it tends to tear up the roots of wheat. That is why the farmer in the story says to his workers, “Don’t pull them out.” It would pull out the wheat as well. That is your agriculture lesson for today. But, that is not what Jesus is really talking about.

Jesus is really talking about the pervasiveness of wickedness and evil. Some scholars have argued that this parable was aimed at Judas Iscariot, and why Jesus didn’t kick him out. That Jesus was afraid others might follow Judas in leaving. I, personally, doubt that one very much. I think Jesus was looking at a much broader scale, like the whole world, or the whole Church. After all, Jesus tells this parable to the crowds, but he explains it to the disciples. And Judas would have been present when Jesus explained this parable.

There is the old adage that, “You have to take the good with the bad.” We all learn that one as we get older. We are surrounded by evil. Wickedness is everywhere. But, we are also surrounded by the good. Good is also everywhere. Sometimes, and this is the problem with the human situation, sometimes, we can’t tell them apart. Actually, we can tell them apart, but that is usually in hindsight. When we are in the midst of things, then it can be quite difficult to tell the good from the bad. And, as Jesus says in the parable, when you try to root out evil, you may root out the good as well. Often, as Jesus alludes in the story, the best course is to wait, literally until things come to a head, and then you can tell the difference by the fruit that they bear.

There is another way of looking at this parable, of course. Jesus’ stories are always much deeper when you delve into them than would appear on the surface. The wheat and the weeds/tares/darnel, the good and the bad, may also well apply to us as individuals. We don’t like to see it that way, but we do believe that we are “at the same time saints and sinners,” “Simul iustus et peccatur. “ That is the Christian situation. We are both good and bad. Because of baptism and our faith in Christ, we believe that the guilt of our sins is washed away. But, the part of that which we don’t like to remember is that the sin remains. It is in our flesh (that is what Paul is arguing about in the epistle text today). We are still sinners. But we hope and pray that we are forgiven sinners. Why do you think we begin the worship service with a Rite of Confession and Forgiveness? We recognize that we are capable of wickedness. We call that sin. In fact, we believe that we can’t help it. It is hardwired into us. But, we believe all the more firmly that Christ recognizes that, and forgives those who have faith in him. We believe that the sin in us, like the darnel, is toxic to us, and leads to death. But, through this parable, Jesus teaches that in the end it will be removed from us. And we shall be part of the Lord’s harvest, the wheat, taken into his kingdom in the end. There we shall share in the forgiveness of sins, everlasting salvation through Christ, and eternal life with God in heaven, where all is good for it is the home of God.
Pastor Rose