The Effervescence of God
This week's parables from Jesus are about the tiniest of seeds and some of the smallest known living creatures at the time of his story telling. What is Jesus saying about the Family of God, about this new "Kingdom" that was just beginning to churn and to grow as His divine presence of warmth and love came into the world? Our readings for this week, from Psalm 147 and Matthew 13 both have hints of churning, growth, vitality, renewal and joy.
I might even say that Jesus' word of the day is "effervescence".
I love that word, by the way -- effervescence. The definition, if you look up the term with your favorite online search engine, brings forth this:
"bubbles in a liquid; fizz." // the effervescence of sparkling wine (Google search)
"vivacity and enthusiasm" // he was filled with such effervescence
The image that comes up for me is one of fermentation, not only of the flour, which resumably will be used to make bread dough by the woman in the parable, but also one of fermented beverages.
The Kingdom of God is supposed to be something that brings us vivacity and enthusiasm. It is meant to lift our spirits and to buoy our hearts in times of trouble and difficulty. The parables that we have been looking at in our September Sermon Series are all about the Kingdom of God and the Presence of God which is like a treasure that has been hidden in the foundation of the world.
Let that last part of the previous paragraph resonate for a moment. This treasure -- the Presence, the Effervescence of God, if you will -- this is the joyful gift for each of us to discover within the world we were born into! The Presence of God is not something that is far from us, or apart from us, or beyond our capacity to grasp or understand. The Kingdom, the Treasure, the Presence of God is hidden in plain sight. It is found in all people, in all places at all times and throughout all of Creation. Jesus' parables are turning our attention towards "what has been hidden from the foundation of the world".
Watch for the next reading and listen to the stories that come next week about hidden treasure...
Examine the 13th chapter of Matthew. What do you see? Where is the treasure? Where is the gift? What is the Effervescence of God and where can it be found?
Here are the readings for this week, including our Call to Worship with responses that you can read from if you view our online worship service, which is livestreamed on Facebook at 11 am, and uploaded to Youtube later in the day on Sunday. Let them percolate for a while. Can you taste the excitement in the air?
What a joyful gift Jesus is bringing to us through His special "Stories by the Sea"!
May we all be filled with the Effervescence of God as the stories truly soak into every cell and fiber and sinew of our being.
Introduction, to be read by the liturgist before the Call to Worship:
Psalm 147 is a postexilic hymn of praise to God as Creator and Sustainer. It celebrates the rebuilding of the walls and gates that protect Jerusalem. God secures the city, grants peace to the border towns, and controls the elements. We read from this Psalm as we work together to rebuild our lives in this time of the Covid virus and political infighting that has splintered our families and broken our hearts. This is our song of hope in the healing that is possible with the presence and practice of Divine Love.
Call to Worship (from Psalm 147:1-5)
Leader: We join together in body and in spirit to praise the Eternal, Creator of all that is.
All: The Eternal is rebuilding us, inside and out,
gathering us in from far and wide, reviving our souls and healing our hearts.
Leader: We honor the Great Healer, the Architect of Earth, who binds our wounds and heals the sorrows of our hearts.
All: Creator of the stars, You know us inside and out, You know the number of the stars and call each one by name.
Leader: We humble our hearts before You, O Lord, we quiet our minds and prepare ourselves for worship.
All: May the Spirit of Love come and fill this place as we listen and watch and pray. Amen.
Psalm 147:7-11 (The Voice Translation, adapted for Inclusivity)
7 Open your mouths with great thanksgiving! Sing praises to the Eternal! Strum the harp in unending praise to our Creative Dreamer 8 Who blankets the heavens with clouds, sends rain to water the thirsty earth, and draws up each blade of grass upon the mountainside. 9 The Eternal opens mighty hands to feed all the animals and scatters seed to nestlings when they cry. 10 The Eternal does not simply delight in the raw strength of horses; and is not impressed by the speed of the sprinter. 11 But the Eternal does take pleasure in those who worship faithfully, in those who invest hope in the Eternal’s unfailing love.
Matthew 13:31-35 (NRSV)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
The Parable of the Yeast
33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
The Use of Parables
34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
May the Word of God nourish our hearts and sustain us today.