The Seventh Sunday after Trinity | 07/26/2020
Introduction to the Word and Liturgy for Worship
If you follow the Prayer Book schedule for Sunday Scripture readings carefully, you'll notice that we are a little off. That's because I've asked for and received our Bishop's permission to go off-lectionary in order to preach from Romans on a different schedule. As it happens, we have an excellent lectionary and I've only made minor adjustments so far. But this week, and for the next several weeks, we'll slow down in Romans chapter 8 and spend some time on some important sections.
This week's slow down focuses on Romans 8:18, where Paul help us "do the math" on life in union with Christ through faith. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18, ESV).
The Gospel lesson is from Matthew chapter 13, which is Jesus' Sermon in Parables. For an orientation to this chapter, here is Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis from his masterful commentary Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word.
"After the Sermon on the Mount concerning the holiness of life that Jesus brings (chs. 5-7), and after the Mission Sermon concerning the conditions for being his disciples (10:5-42), seven parables now constitute the structure of this third great discourse in Matthew, the "Sermon in Parables" (13:1-53). All seven of these parables deal with the mystery of the Kingdom of God. This single theme has such paramount importance in the Gospel that it will be illustrated from a variety of approaches that vie with one another in concreteness and graphic impact. The parables are those of:
1. the Sower,
2. the Weeds and the Wheat,
3. the Mustard Seed,
4. the Woman with the Leaven,
5. the Buried Treasure,
6. the Merchant of Pearls, and
7. the Net Thrown into the Sea.
"The first four parables present different kinds of growth and illustrate the expansion of God's Word. Of these, the first and second stress the readiness of the soil and the importance of patient waiting for the process of growth to be completed. The third and the fourth contrast the exceeding smallness of the beginnings with the immense results in the end. The last three parables make it clear that our vocation to the Kingdom truly puts us before a radical choice: the Kingdom cannot be appropriate in little parcels or half-heartedly, while carrying on other business on the side. It presses us to make a choice of all or nothing."
This week's Gospel lesson contains parables 3, 4, 6, & 7 of the listing given above. And they come from two of the three categories: "the exceeding smallness of the beginnings with the immense results in the end," and the choice before us in light of Jesus and entry into the Kingdom through faith in him, "a choice of all or nothing."
Taken together, and in light of Romans 8:18, by God's grace the choice is clear. Choose the the Kingdom, entered into through faith in Jesus "who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25, ESV).
The Collect of the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Click on the links below to read Sunday's passages)
First Reading: Romans 8:18-26
Psalm 86 (posted below the Playlist)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-50
(click below on the Spotify Playlist to listen)
121 I have done that which is lawful and right; *
O give me not over to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for your servant’s good; *
O let not the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes have wasted away with looking for your salvation, *
and for the word of your righteousness.
124 O deal with your servant according to your loving mercy, *
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; O grant me understanding, *
that I may know your testimonies.
126 It is time for you, O Lord, to act, *
for they have broken your law.
127 For I love your commandments above all things, *
more than gold and precious stones.
128 Therefore I hold all your commandments to be right, *
and all false ways I utterly abhor.
129 Your testimonies are wonderful; *
therefore does my soul keep them.
130 When your word goes forth it gives light *
and understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth, and drew in my breath, *
for my delight was in your commandments.
132 O look upon me, and be merciful unto me, *
as you always do for those who love your Name.
133 Order my steps according to your word, *
and so shall no wickedness have dominion over me.
134 O deliver me from those who deal wrongfully, *
and so shall I keep your commandments.
135 Show the light of your countenance upon your servant, *
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes gush out water *
because of those who do not keep your law.
(from the New Coverdale Psalter as found in the 2019 Book of Common Prayer)