Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. AMEN
The theme at camp this summer was “Secrets
of the kingdom.” Amid all sorts of fun activities, every day
involved a story Jesus told. In worship this morning, we will
retell those parables of Jesus, in six installments. Along the
way, we will hear from our campers about their particular week,
as well as listen to those who volunteered their time as a
counselor or helped out in some other way at Shepherd’s Spring.
Of course, there were also some who were on staff for the whole
summer. Now that this camp season is over, we want to celebrate
it. As we do so, let’s worship the Lord. Come, the “Secrets of
the kingdom” await.
[In prep for this
confession, put seed in four small non-breakable bowls. Invite
four campers to each take a bowl and quietly go out into the
congregation and present or pass these bowls to each person as
the above scripture is read. Preface with this instruction: “As
our young people come to you during the reading of this parable,
please take a pinch of seed and simply place it in the palm of
your hand, holding it upright. Do nothing else with it. But
listen to this story of Jesus.”]
Feel the seed that
is your hand. These seeds, when planted, will grow and become
what God intended them to be, given enough (but not too much)
nutrients and water and sun. Imagining these seeds as something
other than seeds is something we grow into doing as we mature.
Only after we have watched a seed gradually grow, day by day, do
we understand that it can become a plant which looks much
different than it does now. Likewise, thinking of a seed as
something other than a plant-to-be is something we are able to
do as we grow toward being adults.
And Jesus told a
story about a sower, someone who scatters seed upon the ground.
Perhaps those of us who are older can imagine this seed now in
the palm of our hand as good news that is meant to be shared,
words spoken that tell the wonderful things that God does. Jesus
was himself a sower of good news seeds, scattering openly and
freely the secrets of God’s kingdom. He still is. These seeds
are tossed upon us daily. Now, the question raised by this
parable is this: What sort of ground are we? What will happen
with these seeds?
Let’s think about
this story Jesus told and imagine ourselves as the ground which
receives these seeds today. Let’s also think about what sort of
soil we have been this past week. Be honest. There are times
when we are like a sidewalk. Can seed grow on concrete? Have you
been like a sidewalk this week, for whatever reason – be it just
plain busy-ness or hardness of heart? If so, separate out some
of the seed in the center of your palm and put it to the side.
As you do so, whisper, “Lord, have mercy.”
At other times we
are like rocky soil. There’s an opening for God, but not much
depth underneath, for whatever reason. We rejoice in the
goodness of the Lord, but return to “life as usual,” forgetting
to pay attention to what is really important, and thus hardly
growing. If so, separate out some more of the seed in the center
of your palm and put it to the side. As you do so, whisper,
“Lord, have mercy.”
Sometimes we are
full of thorns – anger, resentment, bitterness, hostility, maybe
even a touch of hatred. Let’s be honest. The flip side of this
is when we shove these feelings inside and grow depressed,
seeing ourselves as worthless, without a prayer, unlovable.
There are many kinds of thorns. If your ground is full of them,
separate out some more of the seed in the center of your palm
and put it to the side. As you do so, whisper, “Lord, have
How many seeds
remain in the center of your palm? Just a few? Maybe even just
one? The wonder and glory of the good news, this secret of God’s
kingdom openly and freely shared is that even one seed has great
possibility. Listen again to Jesus, “Other seed fell into good
soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and
yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” With your palm
still bearing seed, though some of it is separated out and to
the side, raise up your hands to the Lord. As you do so, say out
loud, “Thank you, Lord!”
written closer to the time (if not at the
out the Parable for Day #3 Matthew 20:1-16
(one character starts out
lying upon the floor up front, another is just offstage)
1“For the kingdom of heaven is
like a landowner (he awakes and stretches)
who went out early in the morning (he heads out into the congregation)
to hire laborers for his vineyard. (he chooses “workers,” all campers and brings
them forward) 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual
(pretends to barter with them until all agree)
he sent them into his vineyard. (shows them where to go and what to do – all
(then goes back up and sits down) 3When he went out about nine o’clock, (looks at watch and gets up, looks, & heads into
congregation) he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; (pick a few others) 4and he said to them, (mime speaking) ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you
whatever is right.’
So they went. (shows them where to go and what to do – all
(then goes back up and sits down) 5When he went out again (looks at watch and gets up, looks, & heads into
congregation) about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. (pick a few others, barter till they agree)
(shows them where to go and what to do – all
(then goes back up and sits down) 6And about five o’clock he went out (looks at watch and gets up, looks, & heads into
congregation) and found others standing around; (pick a few others)
and he said to them, (mime speaking) ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ (shows them where to go and what to do – all
(then goes back up and sits down) 8When evening came, (look at watch) the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, (motion to person just offstage and mime talking)
‘Call the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ (that person goes and round up everyone) 9When those hired about five o’clock came,
each of them received the usual daily wage. (hand out imaginary money to the 5pm-ers,
send them back to their seats, and then the 3pm-ers,
noon-ers, and then the mid-morning workers
– not the first ones chosen, however) from last to first 10Now when the first came, they thought they would
but each of them also received the usual daily wage. (give out money to the ones who came first) 11And when they received it, they grumbled
against the landowner, 12saying, (if campers catch on, they pretend to grumble
if not, just go with the flow) ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal
to us who have borne the burden
of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, (mime speaking) ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for
the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to
give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what
belongs to me?
Or are you envious because I am generous?’ (send them back to their seats and exits) 16So the last will be first, and the first will
“The kingdom of
heaven is like yeast.” That’s what Jesus said. This morning we
celebrate how God has been leavening the lives of our young
people this summer through the ministry of Shepherd’s Spring.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” Jesus said. We
may not see right away the effect of a week of camp. We simply
trust that seeds planted there will grow. Who knows what will
come of it all, except God. What we do know is that we’ve had a
role in creating and empowering this outdoor ministry center.
Our offerings long ago helped build this place, and our gifts
continue to help make things happen. This is where a portion of
what you put in the plate every week goes. Be thankful that God
is still sowing this field, and growing things we cannot at
present see… Ushers, please receive what we have to give while
we view this video. And would you all please sign and pass the
attendance booklets while we do so? They’re on the center aisle
side of each pew.
Offertory Video "The Mustard Seed"
Sharing about this summer experience
to camp this summer, as a camper, counselor, staff, or helping
there in other ways, is invited to come forward as we pass
around the microphone for each to speak as they feel so moved.
Interested in Sunday School? Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit.
As you discover others, please let
International Lesson: Adult
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement"
under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)