A comprehended god is no god.

A comprehended god is no god.

A wise saying by saintly John Chrysostom

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sermon for Sunday, June 17 2012 “Father’s Day”

!Hazte presente! !Hazte presente, oh Jesús, nuestro gran Sumo Sacerdote, así como te hiciste presente con tus discípulos, y muéstrate a nosotros en la fracción de la lectura y del Pan; tu que vives y reinas con el Padre y el Espíritu Santo, ahora y por siempre. Amen.

Before I begin I want to thank Dr. Smith for asking me to preach today and Reverenda, and all of you, for giving us such a warm welcome. Our small group of seminarians from the United States, Tina Heidmann, Betty Jerez, Jordan Haynie, Mikael Salovaara and I have been in Colón for only a week. You have made us feel at home.

We’ve been struck by the immense beauty of Panamá. Canticle 5, el Cantico de la Creación, has been on my mind since the first day I woke up in Panamá. It could have been written here in Colon: 

Bendigan al Señor, lluvias todas y roció,

          vientos todos, fuego y calor.

          Inviernos y veranos, bedigan al Señor,

                   alábenle y exáltenle sobre todo para siempre.

Bendiga la tierra al Señor,

          alábele y exáltele sobre todo para siempre.

          Montes y Colinas y cuanto germina en la tierra,

                                         bendigan al Señor,

          alábenle y exáltenle sobre todo para siempre.

 Bendigan al Señor, manantiales y fuentes, mares y ríos,

                   cetáceos y cuanto se mueve en las aguas.

Aves del cielo, bendigan al Señor,

          alábenle y exáltenle sobre todo para siempre.

          Bendigan al Señor, bestias silvestres,

                y todos los rebaños y ganados.

          Hombres y mujeres de todos lugares, bendigan al Señor,

          alábenle y exáltenle sobre todo para siempre.

You can feel the weather in Panama. The warmth of the day in Colón is broken by cool rains and are accompanied by loud drumming thunder. Your blessed mountains and hills, seas, mighty rivers, and diversity of birds, fish and fowl, wild creatures great and small, from the Panamanian sloth we saw on one of our first nights crawling slowly across the parking lot at the Diocesan Center in Panama City, to the fast moving ñeco that refuses to let me take a photo, to the tiny ants that build towering homes and the tiny geko that visits each night thankfully eating any bugs that comes too close my bed, all cause joy and wonder at the brilliance of God’s good creation.

Above all, I thank God for the example of your hospitality, your kindness and patience (especialmente con mi español), and for the good work you do as the Body of Christ in this place.

We share a rich heritage in faith in God the Father of us all. We share hope and the promise of salvation. We share a common destination – the Kingdom of God.

In chapter four of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus gives us four important teachings:

1.    The parable of the Sower

2.    The parable of the Lamp Under a Bushel

3.    The Growing Seed, and

4.    The Mustard Seed

Three of the four parables contain images of sown seed and growth. Today’s Gospel reading opens with the parable of the Growing Seed. This parable in only found in Mark’s Gospel and has something important to tell us. Jesus said that “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.”

A story about small seeds may not sound like an exciting way for Jesus to begin a sermon but Jesus sees beyond outward appearances. The reading for today from 1 Samuel reminds us that, “The Lord does not see as mortals see; we tend to look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks in the heart.”

In the heart of a seed there is potential for life and growth. Seeds are also more powerful than we think. They can grow almost anywhere, especially in Panamá. When it sprouts its roots are strong enough to crack rocks. Plants make animal and human life possible. The growth itself may not be noticed on a day to day basis, but over time a miracle takes place. Suddenly, where we had not noticed growth there is now a bush or a tree.
We do not know how it happens. We play our small part and God does the rest. It is not necessarily about us at all, but about the “work of the seed” and the God who sustains it.
The kingdom of God is a lot like the sown seed… it comes with slow, steady, sometimes imperceptible growth. We are invited to participate as witnesses of God’s life-giving presence. It is God who nurtures and sustains the growth. In the kingdom of God we are both God’s seeds and sowers. I think that is part of what we celebrate on Father’s Day.

We celebrate our heavenly Father that causes us to grow. We also celebrate our earthly fathers who do their best to nurture and sustain that growth. Mr. Branch reminded me that some of us lost our father at an early age, or some people never knew their father, but we may have people in our lives that stood in the gap for us. There are people who have made strong impressions on our lives and help to mold us.

I’m excited by the fact that God encourages all of us to sow seed and grow the kingdom of God. We all have something to contribute. We all have something to do. We all have some gift to share for the building up of God’s kingdom.

I have a question for you. What seeds are you sowing? How do you sow them?

I’ve been blessed with many mentors in my life. Dr. Richardson and Father Stuart are two men who have taught me to give my best even when I’m afraid of failure. I learned from what they said and what they did. They in turn have taught me how to plant.

The Apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians that all of us want to please God; we will all appear before Christ and answer for our actions and inaction. Unfortunately I am not always sowing good seed. I make mistakes and am sometimes slow to apologize.

We can either sow seeds for the flesh or for the spirit. The work of the flesh is obvious and includes impurity, jealousy, anger,  envy, drunkenness, and things like these. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

When I notice that I’m jealous, angry, or envious I can do something about it. I can go to God in prayer. I can ask for pardon, take up my cross again. This is part of what it means to repent – to change direction and move towards God. I can ask for the Holy Spirit to inspire me to plant seeds, to mentor someone, to offer what I have in love.

Is this impossible? Is God asking us to do something without supplying what we need to do it? Never! God is always faithful. God is always with us. God is preparing an unimaginable harvest. We have the honor of lending our hands and our feet.
Are you willing to renew your efforts? Church, I said, “Are you willing?”

Gloria a Dios, cuyo poder, actuando en nosotros, puede realizer todas las cosas infinitamente mejor de lo que podemos pedir o pensar: Gloria a él en la Iglesia de generación en generación, y en Christo Jesús por los siglos de los siglos. Amen.