Sermon Study Guide – St. Thomas’ Church, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

 

(Date: 17 June 2012)             “Nice Children or Happy Children?”         2 Cor 5:6-17 and Mark 4:26-34

 

  1. 1.    Last Sunday was Father’s Day. Being nice for Father is not really what makes for a good Father’s Day. Some fathers may enjoy the momentary peace and quiet that might bring but all true fathers know that- we want happy children, not nice children. We know that children can be very nice but hiding all sorts of unhappiness and anxiety behind their niceness. If God doesn’t want us to be nice, what does he want? Are there any clues in today’s scripture readings?

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Leader’s Guide:

It wasn’t very nice of Jesus to only teach in parables. Parables are sometimes tough to understand? What do parables force us to do? Why isn’t God always clearer? Why doesn’t God make things easier for us? Why did the choir sing “In the bulb there is a flower” for Father’s Day and baptism last Sunday? Why isn’t living the spiritual life always easier after baptism? Why, why, why? Why the question “why”?

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  1. 2.    In our readings today Jesus and Paul speak of some complicated and confusing things. They seem to be contradictory and almost draw us into an argument. Have you ever had an argument with God? Have you looked closely at the argument Job wanted to have with God, if he could get at Him? What could the Father’s purpose be in a current crisis of yours?

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Leader’s Guide:

Here are just a few difficult quotes from Paul and Jesus today that might be worth discussing. Choose one or more for further reflection>

 

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight.       Why shouldn’t we live by sight? Does he mean religion is all in your head? Where does science and philosophy and politics fit in?…

 

(For) we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.            How do I live for God when I seem to do everything for myself? Isn’t it unhealthy not to live for myself?… What does Paul mean?… Why was Jesus raised for me?…

 

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!                        How is everything new when everything feels the same- just the same old, same old, most of the time? Where is the new creation in us?….

 

Jesus also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.       Why is  the kingdom of God like seed thrown on the ground? Why isn’t it like an invasion with thunder and awe? Why is God’s kingdom so hard to pick up and so easily lost or cast aside? Why does God seem so feeble?…

 

God’s kingdom (says Jesus)… is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  Why a shrub and not an oak tree? Why is the kingdom of heaven in us like a miserable, edible, herb and not something more majestic? What if I don’t want birds nesting in me and pooping all over my life? At least babies wear diapers!…

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God doesn’t want nice children, He wants happy children, and for children to be happy they will need to be real. They will need to know deep down that they are loved and valued- not just with nice words but with a love that goes deep, right into the pit of their fearful hearts and anxious souls. We all need to know our Father loves us. Knowledge involves growth and growth always involves struggle of some sort but struggle that leads to greater life and freedom.

 

So here’s a blessing for fathers: May your children not be nice children but may they be happy children. May you not be a nice father but a good and loving and truthful father, and may you and your children walk with Christ through life until you come home together to your heavenly Father’s house. Amen.

 

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