Summary: THANKSGIVING AND OUTREACH
THANKSGIVING AND MISSION
This is a day of thanksgiving as we thank God for the birthday of the church. Birthdays are often times we spend to reflect- giving deep thoughts on the past; perhaps our achievements and challenges. It is also a time we may look at our future- the years ahead of us and what we want to achieve and how to get there. For instance, when you celebrated your last birthday, you may have told yourself that by the time I will be so and so years old, I should have got this, completed that project, etc.
As we celebrate St. John’s Church 156th birthday, perhaps it will be good if we reflect on what has happened in the past- in the life of the church i.e. the body of believers and what your individual vision for the church is.
Let us pray- Lord Jesus prepare the soil for your seed, amen.
The Theme and the Text
I want us to focus on the theme- Thanksgiving and Mission and I believe Matthew (the Gospel writer) has something to tell us in the 13th chapter verses 24 to 32.
I will tell you a story: a boy (named Joe Fode) was crying because mum could not buy him banana. Actually mum wanted to buy him some but had already spent the money she had on some other grocery items she came to buy. Luckily, a friend of this woman was passing by and was obviously concerned about Joe Fode’s tantrum. The Friend was told that Joe Fode was crying for banana. She then pulled from her shopping bag a piece of this fruit and gave it to Joe Fode. ‘What should you say?’ The mum asked the boy. Joe Fode then told the friend to peel it. Poor mum was so embarrassed. She expected Joe Fode to say ‘thank you’.
Explaining the Text
Today we have the opportunity to look at another parable, again something about a sower. Last week it was about the sower who broadcast his seeds and the various locations the seeds landed. Today it is about another planting exercise and Jesus explained some of the characters and features in the parable in verses 36 to 43 and it will be good if you will find time to read these verses later on. Perhaps you may want to write down the reference in your Order of Service/The Service Sheet i.e. Matthew chapter 13 verses 1 to 43. In these verses (i.e. verses 36 to 43) Jesus said He is the sower, the ‘field is the world’ and the good seeds are ‘children of the Kingdom’.
One way (among others) we can understand this parable is that Jesus, the sower has planted ‘children of the kingdom’ in specific fields; for the obvious reason- for them to grow. Do you see yourself as a child of the Kingdom? For me, I see myself as a child of the Kingdom; because one day God ‘brought me up ... out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings’ (Psalm 40 verse 2); once I was ‘poor, wretched [and] blind’ but God gave me sight, riches [and] healing of the mind’. Therefore, because of what Jesus did for me some years ago, I see myself as a child of His Kingdom. I believe many of you here are also children of His Kingdom.
Definitely, because of what God has done for us in our individual lives and as a church; we must be thankful to Him. We must not behave like the boy in my story- instead of saying thanks for the gift he received, what he wanted was this gracious friend to do something else for him. We must, as Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians chapter 5 verse 20 to ‘always [give] thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (NIV).
Jesus’ intention for planting us in His field is for us to grow. Wherever He has planted us, He wants to see growth. For instant, when you plant a mango seed you expect it to produce fruits and from the fruits you get seeds that you will use to plant in another season. Jesus is expecting the same from us. He wants us to grow where he has placed us so that others may gain from what Jesus did in our lives. I see the ‘others’ as ‘the birds of the air’ in Jesus’ second parable in our text who found the branches of the planted and germinated seed as a source of comfort.
Jesus is expecting us to produce fruits that will have the ability to also reproduce from the seeds in the fruits. Therefore, this same writer Matthew reminds us of the words of the resurrected Jesus in chapter 28 verse 19 in which Jesus commanded us to ‘go and make disciples of all nations...’ This often requires us to leave our comfort zones, go out of the box (the box representing the place we already know) and then back into the box; in order to create an effective network and web of relationships with members in our communities- both the church (those in the box) and those outside the church community. All in a bid: