The Churches of Hipswell Parish

Sunday Sermon - 10th July 2011

Student Reader - Sue YoungClick Here for all Archived Sermons

Sermon for Sunday 10th July 2011

Given by Student Reader: Sue Young

(Showing the congregation a flower) This is one of my favourite flowers (Delphinium). I promise it has NOT been removed from one of the wonderful displays around us. I have grown delphiniums from seed before and here is a typical example.

(Showing the congregation a seed head)  Do any of you here grow anything from seed..?

Do you recognise this seed head? Yes it's a Poppy -  Poppies were one of the few flowers which would grow in the chaos of the First World War trenches…their seeds readily spread in disturbed ground and because of their colour and abundance; they became a sign of hope for the soldiers and, ultimately, the very distinctive symbol of The Royal British Legion.

One thing which always amazes me is the way in which these wonderful flowers – flowers such as those you can see around you, grow from the tiniest seeds. You would have difficulty in seeing the seed for the delphinium….

The image of the seed is a powerful image throughoutthe bible…I’m sure all of you can think of other places in scripture where seeds are mentioned.   For example after the flood, God promises Noah that “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:32).

 Later in the chapter of Matthew which was read this morning, Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a mustard seed…He says: ”when it is sown upon the ground, it is the smallest of all seeds on earth, and yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs” (Matthew 13: 31-32).

The sower of seeds


What does the reading in Matthew today -about seed falling on different kinds of soil - mean for us?

What message was Jesus trying to get across to his disciples who, like us, were not academics but ordinary people?

Jesus himself explains that the seed represents “the word of the kingdom” of God and that God’s kingdom is not something in the remote future, but something we can all experience now, and experience it in all its depth and wonder. The kingdom of God is here and now.

Those who pay absolutely no attention to Jesus and the word of God are likened to the barren soil on which nothing will grow – their preoccupation is with other things. They are entirely separated from God, perhaps by evil.

Those who are carried away with enthusiasm for Jesus and the word of God, but abandon God as soon as they experience significant trouble and pain in their lives, as soon as terrible difficulties arrive in their lives, are likened to seed falling on rocky ground – their faith is one without firm foundation. Their faith falters at its first test. “How can there be a God?” they say, “I’ve been a good Christian and look what has happened to me!”

The seeds that are sown amongst thorns are eventually choked by those thorns – the thorns representing the lure and distractions of the material world…   BUT the seed that is sown in good soil flourishes and yields abundant crops.

What does Jesus mean when he talks about “good soil”?

The “good soil” represents a heart that is open to the knowledge and love of Jesus and to the kingdom of God.  Good soil represents a person who consciously and confidently gives him/herself over to the God’s direction. It represents someone who cares deeply for their fellow human beings, following Christ’s example. It represents a person who has faith in the love of God and who wants to grow in that love and knowledge of God.

I wonder if you realise that as far as the kingdom of God is concerned, there is a lot of seed being sown in good ground in Hipswell? - right here in the middle of our community, at this very moment in time? How fitting that this should be at the time of your 200th anniversary! How fitting that this week’s gospel was the parable of the seed at the time of your wonderful flower festival and at a time of growth for the kingdom of God here in Hipswell!

What seeds are being sown here for the kingdom of God?

It is always interesting to come, as I have done, to a different church community. I can look at it with fresh eyes.  After a short while you begin to have a “feel” for what is happening in that church community in terms of spiritual growth.

I have had a strong sense of a committed and faithful Christian community here in this church and in Colburn church.  The church is not merely the building, lovely as it is; – far more important are the people. You are important. You are vital. The church is the people. Without you there would be no church. The church always was “the people”. The faithful people in Hipswell church give it its firm foundation and its potential for reaching out into the community surrounding it.  It is the fertile soil of which Jesus speaks in the parable of the sown seed.

Outside the church building and the regular congregation, but equally important, there is the wonderful development in Hipswell school of “Messy Church”. This is an after school activity for primary school children which is a meaningful and fun way of finding out about the Christian life…of discovering the love of God. Did you know that it is flourishing and growing beyond all hope and expectations? Children and their carers who do not attend church on a Sunday are learning about God’s love for them.

Another seed which has been sown is Tessa, your priest, who was priested here last week. I have seen the work that she and Jan do in this community and seeds are being sown and nourished all over the place – in families who have never been to church before, in their unseen and often unacknowledged work with the disadvantaged people in our area, in their devotion to the Christian gospel.  In this they are joined by Peter, your Reader- all three work together with you for the promotion of Christ’s kingdom in this place. Fertile soil indeed!

Returning to this morning’s gospel:  seeds here in Hipswell are being sown in rich soil. It is up to each and every one of us to nurture that growth, to support the work of the God in this community and have faith in the purpose of God for you here.

So, here in Hipswell, on your bicentenary, you have so much to be hopeful for.

I hope and pray that seeds sown here flourish and grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Saviour and our inspiration.


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