Summary: A sermon on staying in love with God.
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
“Falling in Love is the Easy Part”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
Being a Christian is ‘messy business.’
Being a Christian may mean eating with our enemy.
It may mean we have to hang out with everyone who is declared wrong by everyone else.
Think about it.
That’s what Jesus did.
In his book Soul Graffiti: Making A Life in the Way of Jesus author Mark Scandrette writes about a time that he and a friend decided they would practice the kind of radical openness to people that Jesus modeled.
Riding on a bus one night they met an elderly man, who happened to be a transvestite.
The man seemed lonely and in need of a friend.
He had some mental health issues and lived in a bus parked in a vacant lot where he lived in filth.
He called himself “The Emperor.”
Along with some other friends from the community Mark began visiting the Emperor several times a week, bringing groceries, helping to cut his hair or clip his toe nails, and cleaning up around his camp.
The Emperor had a plan to kill himself on New Year’s Eve.
“Nobody has ever cared about me,” he told Mark.
Mark told him that he hoped that the Emperor considered him a friend.
At Christmas Mark and his friends decided to throw a party for the Emperor, including his favorite foods and a birthday cake.
Mark brought his family along.
Mark writes: “There was a full moon on that December evening when I knocked on the door to the emperor’s bus.
He came out wearing an elegant purple bonnet, with freshly painted fingernails.
A thin young woman, who we knew was a prostitute, lived in a trailer on the street nearby, joined us, along with one of her ‘clients.’
We ate by candlelight serenaded by music from a transistor radio.
The emperor declared that the food—a collection of favorite dishes he requested—was delicious.
Mark continues, “After dinner my wife Lisa put candles on a cake.
‘Let’s sing Happy Birthday to someone who hasn’t celebrated their birthday in a while,’ I said.
‘Who could we sing Happy Birthday to?’
Just then, beaming, our three-year-old son Noah blurted, ‘It’s Christmas, let’s sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!’
Mark writes that he waited to see how the emperor would react.
You see, when they had first met the emperor he had become very angry at the mention of the name of Jesus.
So Mark was nervous about what the Emperor’s reaction might be.
Mark continues, “Slowly, with a big toothless grin, [the emperor] said, ‘Yes, let’s sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.’
Under a clear and starry night the eight of us sang together—Lisa, me, a streetwalker and her john, a sixty-three-year-old transvestite, and three small blond children with red cheeks.”
Mark continues, “As I helped the emperor back into his bus, he turned to me and said, ‘This was the best night of my life. Thank you.’”
I can think of no better illustration of how we—sowers of God’s Good News—are to live our lives in radical obedience to Christ.
Notice that in the parable of the sower, the seed is scattered extravagantly!!!
Some seeds land on the path.
Some fall on rocky places.
Other seed fell among thorns.
And some seed fell on good soil.
We are to be extravagant in sowing the Word of God in our community.
We are not to discriminate as to where we sow it or where it lands!!!
God’s Good News is for everyone!!!
We have no way of knowing where the good soil is…and where the seed will take root.
And it’s not up to us to know.
Not all the seed produces a crop.
Some of the seeds do take root, though, and start to grow…but something happens to stop the growth.
The soil just isn’t right.
I had an interesting conversation on July 4th with a man who’s child was having her face painted in one of our booths.
He told me that he used to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
And he used to be really involved in reaching out to folks and sharing the Good News.
But he said, “Following Jesus is hard work, and I just got way too selfish.
You can’t be selfish and follow Jesus.
The reason people don’t follow Jesus is because they are too selfish.
Following Jesus involves humbling one’s self.
It means reaching out to other people—even when it is not convenient to do so.
It’s hard work.”
As we continued to talk, I said, “Well. I hope you decide to start following Jesus again.”
His reply was this, “Yeah. I plan to. My life is just so miserable now. I have been so unhappy ever since I stopped following Jesus. Life is hardly worth living anymore.”