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Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

 

God’s kingdom is like seed scattered wildly and generously in good soil and in unexpected places.  And God longs for it to flourish.  God expects the seed to grow wherever it is planted.  God wants it to yield a plentiful harvest.

 

And sometimes we are the seed that God is sowing in our communities.  God sends us to make a difference by the things that we do and by the way that we love others.  We are the seed.

 

Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

 

But it is all dependent on the quality of the ground.  If the soil is poor or if the ground is stony or if it’s choked with weeds and thistles, it has less chance of doing well.  The type of soil matters.

 

And we are the ground on which the seed is sown.  I hope we are the kind of people in which the seed can grow, but all of us will have stony patches and thistle corners and barren areas.  Welcome God’s word.  Let it grow in you.  Let the roots grow deep.  Let it become fruitful in you.

 

Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

 

And God is like the farmer scattering the seed, casting it widely into all kinds of terrain.

 

And God also wants us to be the farmers of his word, taking it out into the places where we live and work and spend our time so that we can do God’s planting.  He want us as a church to be growing the kingdom of God.  And that’s not about what the Vicar does, but all of us, each one, called to plant and grow God’s kingdom.

 

Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

 

As a church, we are involved in a project called Inspired Futures.  This is helping us think about our future, and how we can serve the community better and become financially sustainable and encourage people to enjoy the beauty and heritage of this building.  People are always amazed when they come into this church for the first time.  It is a real show case for the arts and skills of the north east in the early part of the twentieth century.  We need to think about how we can promote our heritage to bring people to visit church.  And we need to create opportunities where they don’t just see the carvings and the windows, but they catch something of the glory of God as well.

 

When I have a class of children in church, I tell them that every carving and every window tell a story.  This church is full of stories!  And it is full of theology.  It makes statements about what we believe about God and what God is doing among us and who we are as a church, the body of Christ.

 

How can we use our church building to help sow the seed of God’s word and be part of God’s kingdom?

 

And how about us – you and me – how can we sow seed?  Firstly, by the way we live as we become more and more like Christ.  It’s about the quality of loving, not just for our families – everyone loves their families, but going beyond them to show love for people in the wider community, especially those who are not so easily loveable.  Caring means listening to people, paying them attention, looking out for them.  Every act of genuine caring is another seed sown.

 

But sowing seed is about being sufficiently confident in your faith that you are happy to be identified as a Christian and a churchgoer.  It’s not about preaching to people and telling them how to behave, but telling them how much God loves you, and how important it is to you to be part of God’s family.  Tell them when things are happening at church that they might enjoy or benefit from.  If they have been bereaved, encourage them to come to the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving in November.  Come along with them.

 

Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

 

God wants you to be the kind of soil where the seeds of his word can grow.  That doesn’t necessarily mean going on courses or reading books, though that can be helpful to some people.  It could mean growing in prayer – spending a little longer each day or each week in prayer, or learning a new way of praying that stretches you spiritually.  It could mean looking up the bible readings during the week and reading them slowly and thinking about what God might be saying to you personally through the reading.  Sometimes, I have been to see a film or watched a programme on the television which makes me think about God in a new way.  I didn’t follow the series “Broken” myself, but so many people have told me how good it was, and how it made them think again about faith and about following Jesus.  There are so many ways to go on learning.  Be open to the lessons that God brings to you.

 

Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

 

God is planting his kingdom all around us and within us and he wants us to be part of it.  Sometimes, we are the seed that God is planting!  How is God using you to sow the seeds of his kingdom?  Sometimes we are the ground into which God is sowing the seed.  How is God encouraging you to grow in faith and hope and love?  And sometimes God calls on us to be sowing the seed, building the kingdom of God in our communities, making a difference in people’s lives.  Think about the times in your life when you have been called to do that!

 

Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

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