Sermon: 6th October 2019

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Readings  2 Timothy 1.1-14  Luke 17:5-10

Just plain daft! Mad? A crazy idea.

Planting trees in the sea sounds like a stupid exercise. Ludicrous!

I reckon that is exactly how Jesus meant it to sound.

We miss the point of this mini-parable if we look at it with solemn eyes

It is cartoon he is creating. Think of it in cartoon terms. Unleash your imagination.

Imagine a bloke standing up to his waist in the sea at Galle Face Green, trying to plant a tree. 

Just Crazy!

Like any clever cartoon, behind this picture there is a serious point. In this cartoon Jesus is challenging those who would follow him to start attempting the hard and clownish things. Such teaching of Christ is for many, impractical nonsense. But not for the disciple; for the disciple it is the way to go. Remember there is a relationship between the word disciple and the word discipline. The follower keeps attempting to follow the Master and gradually and slowly eventually…

Some comments about what Jesus said ¾

Literally, the tree Jesus mentions is not what in English we call a sycamore tree, but a variety of mulberry tree that grew in the Middle east, a fruit tree. A tree which happens to have a large and deep root system.

Jesus does say planted. Not dumped into the sea, planted. The Greek word used is the common word for planting flowers, trees or vegetables. It’s the kind of thing you do when expecting things to grow and produce food.

 For Him faith is not a passive, fatalistic acceptance of things, but an active, disruptive force. It is not resignation to whatever the stars decree. Jesus’ faith is prepared to roll up its sleeves and get working at changing the world with God and for God.

Faith is not have a lever to get God to do what we want, but the readiness to do what God wants.  Even a little faith, Jesus says; even faith a small as a mustard seed will have surprising results.

Christians are called by Jesus to plant fruitful possibilities in alien situations.

In the eyes of a cynical world, faith is an exercise in improbalitity.

To the worldly schemer what we are on about will seem impractical; a waste of time and effort.  We will always be seen by some as the clowns of God.  They say: “There is nothing we can do.” We say: “Let’s give it a try!”

Christians should be the people who dream up exciting ideas that to the cynics around us seem clownish nonsense in their calculating view. We are called to put ourselves at risk. We should be asking the awkward questions, making the unpopular stand, trying to win the unwinnable contest with evil. We are called to give it a try, and if we fail, to fail gloriously.

What about it? Would it be such a bad thing if we took as our motto: “Clowns of faith, by appointment to his humble majesty, Jesus of Nazareth.”

Planting trees in the sea is our true business. The clowns of God should be ready to go where the sophisticated disdain to tread.

Lets thank God for those who take up the challenge.

Those who are prepared to take a risk for the sake of Christ Jesus, inspire the rest of us.

A 7 year old child, after hearing about starving people in Africa in Sunday School, drew a picture and made a donation box. This she installed at the front door and made sure any visitors saw it. She could not cure the ills of Africa but she could make a start  by planting her small tree in the sea of general apathy.

The teenager girl in our Guide company ‘Netherlee’ who is making people more aware of abuse and how to avoid it. She has taken the initiative and gone to schools and I think prisons, well done to her.

Or did you hear about a priest in Africa who faked a crime and got himself imprisoned so that he could minister without any status to those who needed him most. Now that is planting in the sea! What a crazy thing to do.

I am keenly aware of some of you in this congregation who have done your share of planting fruit trees in the sea. In your own way, you tackle the difficult and attempt that which seems improbable. Sometimes you appear to succeed, at other times you may appear to fail.

Common plantings do matter.

I am convinced that in the kingdom of God, what appears like a waste of time is always a success. The act of attempting the difficult for Christ is itself a glorious success. No brave act of faith is wasted in God’s regime.  That which may not appear to bear fruit, will fruit in ways we cannot discern. Nothing done for Christ Jesus is a write off. No brave risk of faith and love is a pathetic defeat.

So, how about it?  

More clownish impudence, this week, please! Get out there in the seas with a spade in your hand.  In those places where others are negative and defeatist, and stand around bemoaning the state of the world, or the church, let shed our embarrassment and just get on with Christ’s tree planting programme.

There is much more fun in being a clown of God that in “sitting in the seat of the scornful and sad.”

The world needs more humour, more commitment and more love, so never a better time to take Jesus at his word. Or even better take Jesus word and act on it.

Thanks be to God. Amen

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