Mark 4:26-34

June 14, 2015 ? Music Sunday – by Ken Dale

First thoughts ? is there a better illustration of ?mustard seed? than God?s precious gift of music?? Searching for a sentence sermon, one thought I came across was that music was love looking for a word ? or something like that.? Just think about the power of music ? how one little song, one great anthem, can, like a mustard seed go out and grow and touch people ? an individual or a hall full of people ? and inspire them, speak to them, challenge them, comfort them, move them in some way or many ways ? like the mustard seed that becomes a greatest of all shrubs putting forth ?large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.?

Surely in some way we have all really experienced that power of music ? one little song.

Today we do indeed give thanks to God for the gift of music and the ministry of music in this church!? There is so much to celebrate and rejoice in and be thankful for ? and today we do and we are!

Music is just one type of seed.? There are many seeds.? So what about that parable at the beginning of today?s gospel lesson?? The KINGDOM OF GOD ?is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day the seed would sprout and grow.?? Oh that it would happen that quickly!? ?Let?s pause there for a moment.? Like watching water boil ? waiting for seed to sprout can be an exercise in patience for sure.? Anyone plant a garden this year?? You can relate for sure.? But sometimes it?s worth the wait ? it?s amazing what one may come from one seed ? take zucchini for example…? I love zucchini and yellow summer squash and I didn?t realize what I was doing but in my very first garden back in the 1970?s I planted 16 hills of the stuff.? Need I say more?

I read of Norman Borlaug who received the Nobel Peace prize in 1970 in recognition of his contribution to world peace through increasing food supply.?? He developed a wheat seed ? actually varieties of it for different climates ? he is now known as ?the man who saved a billion lives.?? The seed was planted in India and Pakistan resulting in a remarkable turnaround to that country of 1.1 billion people.? So seed can make a huge difference but it needs to be planted ? it needs to be scattered.

I?m sure you?ve at least heard of the latest Pew Research? that indicated the Christian population is in this country, over the past 7 years has dropped from 78% to 70%.????????? The ?nones? ? those Americans who are unaffiliated with brand name religion have experience a growth of 16%, now 22.8% of the US population.? I read of one man, Ed Stetzer, who takes that 70% that identify themselves as ?Christian? and breaks them down into three categories ? though I?m a bit cautious of it ? I share it to make a point.? The first category is ?cultural? ? those who profess to be Christians because their culture tells them they are ? they are not practicing Christians, just sort of by name only.? The second category is ?congregational? (not as a denomination) ? they are similar to the cultural except they do have some connection to congregational life ? a church they attend at least occasionally.? The last category is ?convictional? ? those who actually live according to their faith.? I had a wonderful visit with Stuart Gillespie late last Sunday afternoon and as he spoke of this church he mentioned some and called them ?practicing Christians? ? he was obviously touched by the witness of their faith that showed quite simply in the way that they lived – in the example of their lives.? Stetzer concludes that the ?Nones? are growing in number because there?s now less societal pressure to be ?Christian.?? He attributes their growth as coming from the defections from the ?cultural? and ?congregational? Christians.

It all makes me wonder about the seed.? How are we in the mainline church doing with the seeds ? are they being scattered or just left in the package?? The seeds of the joys and relationships ?whatever it is – ?hopefully the faith – ?that make us keep coming to church, staying strong ? do we share them?? Do we invite others to partake of those gifts?? If not ? are they not just seeds remaining in the package?? There are many faces to ?Christian? in today?s world.? Those seeds that we do scatter ? can we claim them as expressions of our Christian faith?? Seeds like random acts of kindness, taking time to actually listen to someone, a small word of greeting that may make a big difference in someone?s day, sharing of our abundance in whatever way we can, letting someone know we?re praying for or thinking about them with a card or a phone call ? the list goes on.

How important to scatter such seed ? and as the parable says, know that how it grows we may not know ? but it is God who causes that growth.? I close sharing words our choir heard in the devotional shared by Jane this past Thursday.? It is in the context of choir ? but if we think about it ? it applies to the every day actions of our lives lived out in faith.

?Though many choir rehearsals and worship services may seem the same to us, each tends to the kingdom in its own way, planting seeds of which we are not always aware.? So we go about our ministry of music ever improving our skill, ever rehearsing our message, ever praying that God will use us in planting the seeds of the kingdom.? With each note and syllable, we embody the prayer of hymn writer John Cawood:

So when the precious seed is sown,

Your quickening grace bestow,

That all whose souls the truth receive

Its saving power may know.


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