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This Week's Sermons


What Is Heaven Like?
Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52



I believe we human beings have a perception problem. We often think we have the proper perspective on an issue when in fact we are way off.

There's a charming story that Thomas Wheeler, CEO of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, tells on himself: He and his wife were driving along an interstate highway when he noticed that their car was low on gas. Wheeler got off the highway at the next exit and soon found a rundown gas station with just one gas pump. He asked the lone attendant to fill the tank and check the oil; then went for a little walk around the station to stretch his legs.

As he was returning to the car, he noticed that the attendant and his wife were engaged in an animated conversation. The conversation stopped as he paid the attendant. But as he was getting back into the car, he saw the attendant wave and heard him say, "It was great talking to you."

As they drove out of the station, Wheeler asked his wife if she knew the man. She readily admitted she did. They had gone to high school together and had dated steadily for about a year.

"Boy, were you lucky that I came along," bragged Wheeler.

"If you had married him, you'd be the wife of a gas station attendant instead of the wife of a chief executive officer."

"My dear," replied his wife, "if I had married him, he'd be the chief executive officer and you'd be the gas station attendant."

Yes, we often think we have the proper perspective on an issue when in fact we are way off. Jesus understood this propensity for us humans to get it wrong. Especially when it comes to things spiritual. So he told a few parables. He said the kingdom of heaven is like:

  1. A Small Seed
  2. A Hidden Treasure
  3. And a Pearl of Great Price
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Leonard Sweet's Sermon


How Does Your Garden Grow?
Matthew 13:31-32; 44-52

By the end of July the bounty of a backyard summer garden finally starts to really produce. The earlier, "lighter" crops — peas, lettuces, baby carrots — give way to the rich ripe produce of high summer. Tomatoes, cucumbers, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, corn on the cob, string beans, radishes, spinach — all the stuff that makes for great "sides" at every summer barbecue. Backyard farmers revel in their "crops" because every vegetable is grown with TLC. Yet with the cost of plants, containers, potting soils, fertilizers, pest control supplies, not to mention water — every veggie probably costs at least four times as much as its "Mega-Mart" cousin.


It does not matter. Back yard gardeners are focused on the entire process, on the whole life-cycle of the various vegetables they are growing. The "bottom line," the "cost" of the crop, is NOT the "bottom line." It is hard for a culture bottoming out on the "bottom line" to get this. For a gardener the ultimate reward is the home grown, home harvested, nurtured-from-a-seedling-to-a-first-course experience. And that is beyond any calculable "bottom line. That event is "priceless."

Jesus offered example after example of "the kingdom of God." Our Scripture reading this morning offers a few samples. "The kingdom of heaven is like . . . ." In piling "like" upon "like" Jesus stacked story upon story in showcasing how "priceless" this new possibility was for persons who could grasp its truth. Jesus communicated to the people at the most basic level he could. Hence these "similitudes."

Jesus may have made his way in this world by working with his father Joseph who was a "builder" or "craftsman" (tekton). But in his heart Jesus was a "gardener"...

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