Week Beginning 3rd November, Homegroup Studies.

 

Theme: Parable of the Sower

Reading: Luke 4:1-20

 

Questions to reflect on

 

1. What is the difference between a menu and a meal?

2. Think about this in terms of Jesus, what might the following groups have expected from Jesus and what did they experience? What impact might this have had? 

3. Read Mark 1:15, what you do think Jesus means by good news and the Kingdom of God?

4. Why might Jesus use stories in order to describe what he means? Why is the responsibility of working out the meaning left with the listener?

5. If Jesus was telling this story in today’s culture, what illustration might he be using?

 

Sermon Text:

 

Reading and Reflection

 

I have a question to ask you. What is the difference between a menu and a meal?

<Get a selection of responses from the congregation>

Draw out the idea of expectations and reality – The menu is a source of options of opportunities and as you review it you are imagining what the food will look like, how it might smell and what it might taste it. The meal is what it is! So if we feel disappointed about what we see and eat, this is because it hasn’t lived up to the expectations that we had when looking at the menu.

 “Once there was a man who did such amazing things and said such wonderful things that people followed him. As they followed him, the heard him speaking about a kingdom. The kingdom was not like the one that anyone had ever visited. It was not like any kingdom anyone had ever heard about. So they would ask him ‘What is the kingdom of heaven like?’”

                                                                                              Godly Play Book

and one day when he was speaking to a large crowd of people, he told this story, which Peter is going to read this for us.

Mark 4 v1-9

So having heard that story I wonder what the people listening at the time would have made of it?

I wonder if it would have made sense to them?

I wonder if what you make of the story today?

Lets hear Jesus’ explanation of this.

Mark 4v 10-20

Mark at the start of his gospel sets the scene for the passage we have heard. “Jesus went into Galilee and preached the Good News from God. 15 Jesus said, “The right time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!”

But what does Jesus mean by good news and the kingdom of God, whilst we may expect Jesus to be clear, he often uses stories in order to describe what he means and lets the listener work out the explanation of this. The story that we heard this morning is a parable, that is – a story that is told to illustrate a truth_ and in particular how the people will respond to hearing about God's Kingdom.

The Sower sows the seed everywhere, he doesn’t carefully plan and prepare where he is going to plant the seeds to ensure it grows, no he just flings it far and wide and there are two responses

1) Either the seed flourishes and grows – a little like the disciples and Jesus' other followers who didn't quite get it but continued to walk with Jesus.

2) Or it doesn’t – the rich man who went to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to gain eternal life and who went away disappointed because he was very rich and Jesus told him that to gain eternal life he needed to sell everything.

The kingdom of heaven was for everyone listening to Jesus that day, but the reality was so different from the expectations of the people, Jesus couldn't speak about it openly but in closed terms and of those listening some would beginning to understand but others would not know.

But this parable also speaks to us today. Because the kingdom is for all of you here today and once again there are two responses that we all could make,

  1. we may simply dismiss what we have heard, its not for us!
  2. We may be intrigued and want to know more but not do anything about it, so we forget all that we have heard,
  3. we may start to investigate, to get to know this Jesus, but then life gets in the way, maybe money pressures, work pressures, expectations from others and ourselves that slowly choke the relationship with Jesus.

4.    Or we can grow in faith and knowledge of who Jesus is and his love for us, step by step live out the calling he has for us, to share our faith with those around us through words and deed.

And for those of us who have following the Holy Habits series and the habit of ‘Making More Disciples’ it is a reminder that it is God’s mission that we are involved in. It is him that calls and leads people into that faith  relationship with himself. Our role is to be obedient to follow him where ever we are, to tell our stories to the broadest audience possible and to show God’s care and concern to our community as Teresa of Avila once said

“Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours.

Ours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth.

Ours are the feet by which he is to go about doing good and ours are the hands by which he is to bless us now.”

So in the light of this, my prayer for the community at All Saints is that our relationship with God himself deepen and grow we will see the opportunities and have the courage to share our stories of God and the difference he has made in our lives and the blessing of seeing God work in and through others. And my prayer for Rosie and Annabelle this morning,  is that as they grow up and learn about God, their response will be like that of the seed grown on good soil, that they will both grow in faith and knowledge of the one who made them and loves them, that they will both  allow God to guide their actions and their deeds and that through them, others will come to know the who made them and loves them. And for John, Holly, Richard, Emma, Karen, Nina, David, Lucy, Chloe, Oli, Sarah and Rachel, my prayer for you all is that as you tell Rosie and Annabelle, the stories of Jesus and pray with them that your own journeys of faith will grow and deepen too.