Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Date: Pentecost VI (Proper 10) and The Disposition of a Church Building + 7/16/17
(This is the last Sunday we meet at the facilities of Lutheran High School Northwest, 1000 Bagley, Rochester Hills.)
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Is. 40:8). Today we are aware that we are the grass and flower, we are the ones along with the whole world around us who wither and fade. Time goes by faster and faster. Our lives seem increasingly insignificant and our life so small. The one thing, says Isaiah, that stands forever is the word of our God. And that word is our life.
This is our last Sunday meeting here at Lutheran High School Northwest. It’s been your home for the past twelve years. Twelve divided by three means that you have heard the Word of God as laid out in the three-year lectionary nearly four times. We might ask, “So what difference did that make?” The scripture before us today says, “that depends.”
We are so often tempted, when we hear Jesus’ parable of the sower, to end up asking, “what sort of soil am I.” Our choices are the hard path where the Word doesn’t affect us at all; the rocky ground where though we at first receive the word with joy until, that is, persecution arises on account of the word and we immediately fall away. Then there are the thorns that grow up around us and choke the word. Finally, there is the good soil where the word is productive of saving faith and changed lives of holiness. I say we wrongly think that we are only one of those four choices. In actuality, our spiritual lives are not that simple as we are all four of those at different times.
Each one of us has occasionally let the Word of God “go in one ear and out the other” as we say, having little or no effect on us. Each one of us has experienced the joy of God’s Word and yet let it slip away when we discover taking God’s Word seriously puts us at odds with the devil, our flesh and the world around us. Each one of us has at times had our faith choked by the deceitfulness of riches. And each one of us has at other times received God’s Word with gladness and, like today’s Collect says, we have learned God’s Word by hearing it, reading it, marking it, that is making the connection, learning and, my favorite phrase, “inwardly digesting” it so God’s Word becomes more and more an essential part of our very being.
Today we thank God for His powerful, creative Word by which each of us has had our beginnings, our physical beginning as human beings and our spiritual beginning by God’s gift of faith instilled in us through His Word. Today we thank God for His sustaining Word. For all our wavering and unfaithfulness at times God remains faithful, faithful to His promise of our salvation. Today we thank God for His enduring Word especially as we celebrate this year the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. But most of all today we thank God for the Incarnate Word, yes for our congregation, but most of all for Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word, the Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. All things were made through Him. Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He has become one with us when, being conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, He became man. In His human flesh and His state of humiliation He won salvation for all as He sacrificed Himself on the cross thus taking away the sin of the world, enduring God’s judgment against all of it, bring us the release of the forgiveness of our sins. Now to all who receive Him, who believe on His name, He gives the power to become the children of God.
This is the seed of God’s Word which, when it is planted in the sinner’s ear, mind, heart and soul has the power to soften the hard path, to remove the rocks of ignorance or self, to clear away the cares of the world and to make us good soil where His gifts and new life grows and changes us from enemies of God into His friends. It is eternal life as we live in the promise and certain hope that even death has been transformed to be but the gate of heaven in the resurrection of the last day.
In our short twelve years we have already dispatched some of our own into God’s everlasting hands. Each of us continues to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest God’s Word in order that we too will be received into God’s eternal presence. Until then He remains present with us through and as His Incarnate Word. Let us continue even as the scenery around us changes knowing that “the sum of [God’s] word is truth, and every one of [His] just decrees endures forever” (Ps 119:160).