OT 11 – Pe +4

June 106, 2024

Lectionary Texts

1 Samuel 15.34 – 16.13 — Samuel anoints David as king of Israel. (God tends to the inner reality, not the outward appearance.)

Psalm 20 — May God answer you, and fulfill your desires…. Some take pride in chariots; but our hope is in God.

2 Corinthians 5. 6-10, (11-13)14-17 — We walk by faith, not sight…. Christ’s love urges us on… Christ died for all so that we might live for him…. If anyone is in Christ there is a new Creation.

Mark 4.26-34 — The parable of the seed growing secretly, and the mustard seed.

Preaching Thoughts

2 Corinthians
        “While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” implies that in this life we’re not as close to Jesus as we will be in the afterlife. Maybe. But thinking of Paul’s image of living “according to the flesh” and “according to the Spirit,” the former means living under the delusion that I am contained in and limited to my flesh, my body. But in fact I’m part of a greater whole, the Body of Christ; living “according to the Spirit” is living in in harmony with this truth. So one can interpret “being in the body” as being obsessed with the protection of my little ego-defined, body-contained self rather than the well-being of the whole Body of Christ. In this sense when I am “in the body” I’m not so close to Jesus. I don’t actually think this is what Paul means here, but it’s consistent with his theology and it works for me.
        “One has died for all; therefore all have died.” Again, to understand this we have to abandon the thought that we’re individuals, and accept the idea of being all members of one Body. In light of this we “live for him.”
        “We no longer we regard anyone from a human point of view.” That is. We know they’re not just individual beings; they’re part of the whole Body of Christ. So “when anyone is in Christ, there is a new Creation”—not just they they’re a new creation, but that Creation is new. The whole world is changed! Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” If one member of a choir changes the note they’re singing, it changes the whole chord. This is how we change the world.

        The growing seed is a beautiful icon, a Christian koan. You can take this many ways. A few:
   • God’s grace is sown in our lives and we don’t know how it works but it does, and it bears fruit, gradually, over time, and we need to receive its gifts.
   • Life is a crop that grows and bears fruit without our knowing how; but when it does the thing to do is to receive it!
   • Your life is a gift, sown in the world. You have gifts of the Spirit that sprout and grow and bear fruit, without your knowing how. It happens while you “sleep and rise”— when you pay attention and when you don’t. And then you harvest those gifts that are in you and offer them to the world.
   • God’s grace grows within you and you “sleep and rise;” in self-surrender you die and are raised to new life, over and over. In this process new life grows, gradually, but when the harvest is ready (to “give way,” says the Greek—again, an act of self-surrender)‚ you “send” in the sickle (yes, the word “sent” is “apostled”).
   • The realm of God is a world of justice. It is growing even now, unseen—yet there are signs of its gradual emergence. Look for them: the small green shoots of healing, the tender stalks of courage and compassion, and even every once in a while the full grain of peace, freedom and justice.
   • The work of justice has gone on mostly without your seeing or knowing; but when the time is right, get in there!
       Similarly the mustard seed is an image that shines light in many different directions. A few:
  • God’s grace is alike a small seed in you: it grows into something that changes your life.
   • Our faith seems like a small thing given the scope of the world’s needs and the power of evil; but God’s grace can lead to enormous changes.
  • Even small acts of love are powerful.
  • Faith can’t be measured. God’s grace is so powerful that even a little trust in it can produce great results.
  • Don’t judge anyone’s faith, not even you own. You can’t tell what mighty power lies in a mustard seed of faith. You can’t tell what great things will arise from small beginnings.
  • We’re often tempted to judge our spiritual gifts, lamenting that we don;t have the gifts that someone else has.. never mind that. What may seem like a small little gift in you—your sense of humor, or your delight in beauty, or your ability to appreciate people—may have tremendous impact.

Call to Worship

Leader:  Eternal Mystery, Sun of Life , you create all things.
All:    Your glory shines in every living being.
Living Christ, Divine Presence, you plant the seed of your love in us.
 Your beauty, your grace are hidden in our hearts.
Spirit of Love, you call forth our compassion.
 By your growth in us, we flower with the fruit of your grace.
 We thank you.  We worship you.  We give ourselves to you.  Alleluia!

Leader:  Creator God, you scatter the seed of your grace in this world.
      All:    It produces blessing, though we know not how.
You scatter the seed of your love in us.
       It sprouts and grows, though we do not know how.
When the time is ripe you gather your harvest.
      We offer our love to you, for the harvest is yours.

Leader: Creator God, Source of Life, we praise you!
All: You plant the seed of your grace in us,
and Creation begins anew.
The mystery of your presence grows within us; we know not how.
The tree of Christ flourishes among us, bearing fruit.
The vine of your Spirit connects us all, and we thank you.
We are seeds of your promise, saplings of your Realm.
Alleluia! Spirit of Life, grow within us,
and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!


God of grace, you plant the mustard seed of your love in us.  May it flourish and grow by your grace. May the sun of your Word shine upon us; the water of your grace nourish us; the warm earth of Christ hold us and bless us to bring forth life in your name.  Amen.

God of all goodness, you are working your healing and justice in the world, though we do not see the whole of it. Nourish the seed of trust in our hearts. Open the eyes of our hearts to see the green blades of your work in the world. Prepare us to know when the harvest needs us,. By your Spirit make us ready to be sent into the harvest of justice and peace. Amen.

Gracious God, as plants in a garden root themselves in rich soil, and open themselves to the rain and sun, so we root ourselves in your Presence.  We open ourselves to your Word.  And we await the working of your Spirit within us, so that what you have planted in us may bear fruit.  We pray in the name of Christ.  Amen.

God of all goodness, you are working your healing and justice in the world, though we do not see the whole of it. Nourish the seed of trust in our hearts. Open the eyes of our hearts to see the green blades of your work in the world. Prepare us to know when the harvest needs us,. By your Spirit make us ready to be sent into the harvest of justice and peace. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to intercessions)

God of life,
we are the soil
where you scatter the seed of your Word.
May it take root in us,
grow mightily, and bear good fruit.


1.   Psalm 20, a paraphrase

The Holy One gives herself to you in your day of trouble.
        The Divine Presence wraps you in protective arms.
May the Beloved give you life from the heart of Being,
         and heaven itself accompany you.

God treasures all that you are
         and honors all that you offer.
God grants you your deepest desires.
         Your becoming is God’s greatest pleasure.

All Creation sings with joy over you
         and Spirit dances to the music of your soul.
The Holy One gives all your hopes
         the power of becoming.

I know this: God chooses you to be who you are,
         talks to your soul like an old friend,
         brings to fruit every seed within you.

Watch out for the temptation to manipulate
         what others think of you.
God already knows who you are,
         and loves it.
Those illusions all crumble like ashes,
         but your Being rises and stands, solid and beautiful.
What happens to you is ephemeral;
         but who you are is sacred.

Holy One, give blessing to your Beloved.
         Opening our hears to you, we meet you.

2. Abridged from Psalm 20, a paraphrase

May the Holy One be with you in all your struggles.
        May God treasure your gifts with delight.
May God grant your deepest desires
       and bring to fruition the seeds of grace in you.
We rejoice at one another’s giftedness;
       we celebrate what God is doing in you.
God will always be present with God’s Beloved.
       God responds with love and blessing.
Some trust in power and accomplishments,
       but our trust is in God,
       in God’s amazing glory unfolding in each of us.

Help us to trust this vision, O God.
       Be our hope and our trust.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

Gracious God, we give you our gifts as symbols of our lives.  Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will.  May your grace grow and bear fruit in our lives by the power of your Spirit in us, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) As the seed sprouts and grows, we know not how, so in the mystery of this meal your grace grows in us without our understanding.  May it bear fruit in us, for the sake of the mending of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view on the Music page)

Abounding Harvest
(Tune: KREMSER –We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing)

O God, you have scattered your gifts and your blessings,
the bread that gives life and the seed that grows.
Your grace is astounding, the harvest is abounding.
You give to the poor, and our cup overflows!

We come to the banquet, as each one is able,
rejoicing and voicing our thanks and our praise.
While singing we’re bringing our gifts to your table,
that we may serve you through all of our days.

As you have enriched us, so may we be giving,
and sow as we’ve reaped, in abundance and trust:
now gratefully giving through all of our living
the grace that you offer; for share it we must.

Our God who has planted and nurtured now harvests,
and so we surrender our lives to God’s use.
With Christ as our Vine, we are branches in his spirit,
all bearing fruit in love, and made one in God’s Peace.

       The following verse may be included with previous verses,
       or used as a sending song at the end of worship:

We go now, confessing our love and our blessing
for each, our companions in service and grace.
We’ll nourish each other as sister and brother,
to serve as God’s Bread for the whole human race.

The Harvest of Your Grace (Original song)
      (Including Eucharistic responses to this tune.)
      [2 Corinthians 9.6-15]
      A dialogue between cantor and congregation.

Response: Alleluia! O God, we rejoice in the harvest of your grace.
1. God scatters abroad, and gives to the poor, and fills the hungry with good things.
2. How blessed the poor, and all those that mourn. “You do to me as to them.”
3. Now come to the Feast. Our cups overflow. With grateful hearts we remember.
4. God’s grace will abound, in seed and in bread. In joy then sow as you reap.
5. You will receive, so that you can give, and yield a harvest of good hearts.

Love-Sowing God (Tune: The river Is Wide)

Love-sowing God, sow love in me.
Sow seeds of grace abundantly.
My soul be soil where love may root
and grow and bear your precious fruit.

Where habit’s feet and wheels have tracked,
my anxious work the soil has packed,
soften my soul with bliss or pain,
so love may enter in again.

My angry thorns, my selfish weeds,
God, clear away, and sow your seeds.
Despite the hungry, wanting bird,
Love, plant in me your living Word.

Love-sowing God, your labors done,
help me to trust the rain and sun,
receive your grace and faithfully
bear forth your love that grows in me.

Seeds of Light (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)
(Communion Hymn: may either be used as a free-standing song
or as Eucharistic Prayer responses.)

Holy and Loving One, thank you for your love and grace
from the beginning, throughout our days.
With every living thing in grateful joy we sing,
and lift to you our song of praise.

Dying, Christ died with us. Rising, Christ has raised us up.
Christ will come in love to reign.
May we be seeds of light, shining with mercy bright,
that death itself cannot contain.

Pour out your Spirit now on these gifts and us as well:
make us the body of Christ again.
Send us in love and grace, serving in joy and peace.
All praise to you! Amen. Amen.

The Tree of Life

(Tune: The Water Is Wide or O Love, How Deep)

O God, you plant deep in each soul
the tree of life that makes us whole,
whose leaves can heal and set us free,
whose fruit will feed abundantly.

The seed is small; the tree is great.
We cannot know what gifts await.
We only tend our plot with care,
in loving deed and listening prayer.

Teach me to trust, my soil to till,
to plant and water, and be still.
The seed will swell, and crack and grow,
though how this is I cannot know.

And I will die, and I will rise,
each day a birth, a new surprise.
And you will give life to the tree,
and I behold your mystery.

You are the soil (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

God, Holy Presence, source of life and blessing,
you are the soil and we the seed.
By your indwelling grace, we die in your embrace;
you raise us up and we are freed.

Jesus, Beloved One, healer, teacher, guide and friend,
in you we come to die and rise:
buried like seeds in earth, given new, gracious birth,
with your love shining in our eyes.

Spirit, breathe into us. Fill us with your loveliness.
Flourish in us with your new green shoots.
May your life freely flow, swelling our hearts to grow,
that we may bear love’s finest fruits.

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