Message from Our Former Pastor
Excerpts from former St. Mark Pastor John Marschhausen sermon for July 26, 2020, the 50th anniversary of his ordination. Relevant text: Matt. 13:31-33 & 44-52.
My Friends, in this morning’s Gospel, Jesus tells five beautiful little parables; five wonderfully imaginative little stories about the scope, the value, the character of God’s gracious, loving presence in our lives. I could not have asked for a better Gospel on the Sunday exactly fifty years after being ordained into the holy ministry!
The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast speak to the awesome scope and reach of God’s presence; even if, sometimes God’s presence might seem, from our perspective, a little hard to recognize. “Don’t be fooled,” Jesus is saying to us through these two parables, “that little seed can become a pretty big bush … and that small bit of yeast will have a surprising effect on a whole bowl of flour.”
The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value speak to the incredible importance of knowing and trusting how much God wants to be a part of our lives. Truly, no material possession comes even close to the value of knowing that God personally loves me, personally love you!
And finally, that wonderful parable of the fish net reminds us, before we get too wrapped up in the amazing Good News of God’s gracious love for me and you, that God wants everyone in Jesus’ kingdom. And if there are any judgments to the contrary to be made, God will make them … not us!
Jesus finishes by asking his listeners, “Have you understood this?”
They confidently reply, “Yes”, but Jesus doesn’t appear to be quite as confident as his listeners, so he ends with a little quote from the Book of Proverbs: “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the Kingdom of heaven is like the master of the household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
What Jesus was recommending to his followers then, and what he’s now asking you and me to consider, is that we pay careful attention to God’s imaginative and down-to-earth ways of communicating and sharing what is truly the Good News of God’s gracious love and presence in our lives.
Throughout the Gospels, my friends, we encounter Jesus preaching and teaching with wonderfully creative and imaginative humor and irony, with methods that grabbed peoples’ attention and touched people where they really live, even as Jesus at times seems to have relished driving crazy all those legalists, literalists, purists and traditionalists who could never say anything to Jesus except, “but we never did it that way before!” or “This is how we’ve always done it here!”
Today, my friends, Jesus demonstrates not only the power of his imagination, but also the very character of God’s amazingly gracious, accepting love, a love God freely offers to anybody, and everybody, in and through Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.
I hope and prayer that as Jesus’ people today, you and I learn to make a bit of room in our faith, and in our lives, for a little more imaginative, creative openness, openness to the unassuming-but-far-reaching message of a tiny mustard seed, openness to the power of just a little yeast, openness to the incredible value of the treasure our Christian faith offers to us, openness to both the spirit and the direction provided to us by a net that wants to include every fish in the sea. Today I thank and praise God that I have been blessed with 50 years of sharing this Good News with Jesus’ people.
And God grant that we all continue in this open, welcoming spirit of faith, in Jesus’ name, Amen.