Sermon Summary for Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood
Our visiting celebrant for Sunday was the Reverend Canon Alicia Schuster-Weltner, Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. As she told us, her position is equivalent to Chief of Staff to Bishop Wright. Rev. Alicia was a very special guest priest indeed. She thanked the parishioners of Ascension, both present and past, for beginning the work of the kingdom long ago in Bartow County, then a remote outpost in the Diocese, and continuing to offer a place of spiritual development, family support, and evangelism for so many decades.
Rev. Alicia’s message was based on the Gospel of the day, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, which is the parable of the weeds of the field. In it, Jesus tells of the sower who planted good seed in the field but found that an enemy had planted weeds among the wheat when no one was around. The householder’s workers inquired as to whether they should gather the weeds while the crop was growing but he told them not to do so as to not destroy the good crop. At the harvest, the reapers would gather all and separate the wheat from the weeds. Jesus later explained to his disciples that the householder is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed are the children of God, the weeds are the children of the evil one sowed by the devil, and the reapers are the angels.
Rev. Alicia told us that it is easy to interpret this parable as good and bad people who will be judged at the end of time. However, she reminded us that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. We are commanded not to judge others as to whether they are the good seed or bad, as we all display sides of each of those at times in our lives. Our command is to bring the gospel to all who will listen and help those in need along the way. Our devotion, love and compassion are what define us as the children of God, not the judgement of others.
Rev. Alicia also posed this question – why are we here in this place today? Are we here out of passion to do the right thing and attend church? Are we here to persevere and complete duties for which we have volunteered? Are we here to worship God and seek His purpose for us to fulfill? She quoted another non-scriptural parable by a friend and colleague who told of three bricklayers hard at work. When each was asked what they were doing the first said he was laying bricks, the second said he was building a church, and the third said he was building a house of God. Each had a talent and passion for their work, each persevered in their work, but each saw the result in different ways. Rev Alicia told us that God’s desire for us is to seek the larger picture and purpose for the things we do. The fulfillment of God’s plan for us requires us to see “the other” in our actions and live into the larger mission of our work.
When we bring our passion, perseverance, and purpose to our work for the kingdom, we grow into the realization and life of who and whose we are.