Third Sunday after Pentecost - Growth in God's Garden Sunday "Master Gardening 101" Homily by Pr. Jim

                                             THIRD SUNDAY after PENTECOST

                                                GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH

660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


Growth in God’s Garden Sunday

13 June 2021


Welcome to Grace Lutheran Church. We are happy that you have joined us for worship this morning. Through Word and Sacrament, Christ our Lord promises to lead and guide us by the power of his Spirit. May today’s worship be a blessing to you as he reveals his love for you and assures you of his presence in your life. If you are a guest or visitor and have not done so already, please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran Church the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Pastor Jim or this morning’s lay assistant will be happy to answer any questions you may have concerning our parish. Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER   “Growth in God’s Garden”

The status quo can often seem to be in control. But the Lord says through Ezekiel [17:22-24] that he can reverse the fortunes of trees and nations. We don’t see that happen dramatically; often growth occurs in secret, as Jesus taught in the parables [Mark 4:26-34]. He remains Lord of all that is happening, whether seen or unseen. And one day we will see, not through the eyes of our present bodies [2 Corinthians 5:1-10], but from the perspective of our eternal heavenly home. Has anything moved so slowly for

you that you gave up on prayer? What might the Lord of all be accomplishing without you being aware?


Lord God, we thank you for planting in us the seed of your Word. By your Holy Spirit let us receive it with joy, live according to it, and increase in faith and hope and love; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

                                               + THE ORDER of CELEBRATING +

PRE-SERVICE MUSIC Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing LSB 686

We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight WOV 675





The mustard seed becomes a great shrub that shelters birds, recalling ancient images of the Tree of Life. We’d expect a cedar or sequoia, but Jesus finds the power of God better imaged in a tiny, no-account seed. It’s not the way we expect divine activity to look. Yet the Tree of Life is here, inn the Cross around which we gather, the tree into which we are grafted through the waters of Baptism, the True Vine nourishes us with its fruit in the cup we share. It may not appear all that impressive, but while nobody is looking it grows with a power beyond our understanding.

PRELUDE In the Garden—C. Austin Miles arr. by Martha Mier

Tatsiana Ascheichyk, Piano


In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“As I live,” says the LORD, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that

the wicked turn from their ways and live.”

     If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins

and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let us then confess our sins to God and in the presence of one another that the

seed may be sown, and a harvest gathered.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you—in our thinking, in our speaking, and in our doing. We have disobeyed your will

and have done what you have forbidden. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we

may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy

Name. Amen.

“Thus it is written that the Messiah had to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins must be proclaimed in his Name.” That word is now proclaimed to you. Your sins are forgiven in the Name

of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Forgiven and reconciled by God, let us be reconciled with one another and share

the peace of the Lord as we greet each other.



The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the

communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

               And also with you.

KYRIE (Sung by the Worship Team. Please join in singing the Refrain.)

Refrain: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison

Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the

peace of God’s Kingdom. Refrain

You come in Word and Sacrament to strengthen us

in holiness. Refrain

You will come in glory with salvation for your people.



O God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to all the world. Graft us

into yourself and nurture our growth, that we may bear the fruits of your

love and truth to those in need; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and

Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now

and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON Ezekiel 17:22-24

[Tree imagery is used in a messianic prophesy to tell how the LORD will choose someone from

Judah’s royal family (the cedar tree) to reign over all creation. This tree will be planted on Mount

Zion, the location of the holy temple.]

“ ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.

“ ‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’ “

The word of the Lord.

                Thanks be to God!

PSALM 92(Read responsively)

Refrain: Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

How great are your works, O LORD; The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

        how profound your thoughts!They will flourish in the courts of our God.

The senseless man does not know, They will still bear fruit in old age,

        fools do not understand, they will stay fresh and green,   

that the wicked spring up like grass proclaiming,, “The LORD is upright;

       and all evildoers flourish,He is my rock, and there is no wickedness 

they will be forever destroyed. in him. Refrain

      But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.


SECOND LESSON 2nd Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17

[Paul encourages believers to live by faith and not by sight. We do not consider Jesus from a human perspective but through the eyes of faith, believing he died for all and was raised. All who are in Christ are now in God’s new creation.]

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say,

and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all

appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due for the things done whether good or bad.

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade mankind. What we

are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us,

so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is

for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all,

and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

The word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC My Faith Has Found a Resting PlaceBrant Adams

Josh Ewert, clarinet; Tatsiana, piano

GOSPEL Mark 4:26-34

The Holy Gospel according to Mark, the 4th chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.

[Jesus frequently uses parables to teach ordinary people as they are able to hear and understand. Images of sowing and growing show the vitality of God’s kingdom.]

Jesus said;] “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything to them.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

     Praise to you, O Christ.

SPECIAL MUSIC There Is a Fountainarr. Cindy Berry

HOMILY Master Gardening 101Pr. Jim Text: The Gospel

Master Gardening 101

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

“The Kingdom of God is near.” “The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground ….” “With what can we compare the Kingdom of God?”

“The Kingdom of God,” a phrase so often on Jesus’ lips, means God’s own working in the world … His activity in the world … His way of getting things done. The Kingdom is not The Church. It is not a place. Nor is the Kingdom only the gift of eternal life yet to come in heaven. The Kingdom of God is God’s reignGod’s initiativeHis way of getting things doneHis good and gracious ruleHis management style in the here-and-now … His amazing power to bring His saving will to pass no matter what or how stiff the resistance is.

God’s way of getting things done centers on Christ, our King, whose resurrection crown came only after His carrying the Cross for us and giving up His life for our sins. In this hour of worship, we’re gathered to express our faith … to confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Faith is our response to God’s love of getting things done in Christ. Faith grows as we receive the good and gracious rule of our Savior in our hearts and lives. By the power of the Spirit, it began with water and the Word. Those seed-like beginnings, as well as the continuing growth of our faith through Word and Sacrament, give witness to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. That’s the good news Jesus’ parables bring on this 3rd Sunday after Pentecost.

The Kingdom of God grows mysteriously. Jesus likens that mystery to a farmer who plants the seed in the ground but doesn’t know how it grows. Yet day and night the growing process goes on. It goes on beyond the farmer’s knowledge … skill … cleverness … or anything else. The corollary is that our faith grows as does the Kingdom … not because of our doing, but by the mysterious, good work of God’s Spirit.

Today’s parable goes to the heart of the problem. It speaks to the “it all-depends-on-me-way” of living and doing. In our activist way of things, things get done because we do them. It sounds strange, doesn’t it, to speak of purposes of tremendous importance unfolding and prospering beyond our devising and control. Yet, we often carry that “it all depends on me” way of thinking into our faith life and the work of The Church.

To be sure, we need to think … pray … set goals … and act. But all those things don’t equate with the Kingdom of God. Our thinking … planning … doing … can only be a witness to the mystery of the way God gets things done. Make no mistake about who runs things. God sets the agenda. He determines the work … the manner in which it’s done … its timing … and its outcome. Today’s parable of the way God runs things is judgment on our readiness to rush ahead on our own … failing to understand what the farmer knew: that the seed grows of itself. To be sure the farmer plowed, tilled, and nurtured the seed. But the growing was not his to give.

So, it is with our response. Our faith grows as God gives it growth. It develops and matures through the ways which God provides in His wisdom and grace.

Faith grows to full maturity in unlikely circumstances.

I think of the hard times some of us have experienced in our lives. And the hard times some of us are currently going through. Times in which tears seem endless … emotions are drained … nights are sleepless, and days filled with worry.

The Theology of Glory … one of the heresies of our time … would have you believe that if you are right with God and have sufficient faith you are exempt from cross-bearing and bad times. Bad times, my friends, are not signs that God has abandoned you and me. Bad times are signs and reminders of the fallen world in which we live. Bad times are when faith holds fast to God’s promise to work for good in all things. God gives growth in bad times as well as good times.

Faith grows as trust grows. Faith grows as thanksgiving and thanks-living grow. Praise and thanksgiving are conducive to growth. So is doing what praise leads to: deeds of forgiveness and love—providing a resting place for the broken … the weary … and those in need. Jesus spoke of the full-grown tree as an analogy of the Kingdom that leads to great things … not scrubby things. Faith which grows as a result of the Kingdom at work is not self-centered, but people related. Faith active in love is faith growing toward that fullness which means not only my maturity but yours and others’ as well.

None of us may ever fully know who we might be touching with our words and actions. We may be directing our attention in a certain direction and our efforts may appear to fall on hard soil. We may think we are planting an apple tree … only to discover we have planted a plum. What we can know, however, is that God’s hand is always in the planting. From small acts of love, God will raise up people who are able to give and receive love. From small words of praise, God will lift up many who find themselves acceptable to God in Christ Jesus. From our refusal to belittle and demean others, God will raise up those who have a passion for justice and freedom. From our willingness to listen to an old idea for the “umpty-umpth time,” God will raise up those who live in truth. From our deeds of patience, God will raise up those who will work with weaker brothers and sisters in the faith. And from our rest, God will raise up those who deeply appreciate the gift of life.

So … what can we know about seeds, planting, and the Kingdom of God on this 3rd Sunday in Pentecost? We can know that the Kingdom of God is not a place but an activity … God’s way of getting things done. The Kingdom of God is the good and gracious rule of God which grows from the very smallest of our efforts. It is God who gives the growth by the power of the Spirit. God will give the increase … if we but plant the seeds.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

APOSTOLIC CREED                                

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen


Confident in God’s steadfast love through Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all those in need.

Holy God, you plant the seeds of faith in every nation. Enliven your Church, so that the good news of your mercy and grace may root and grow throughout the world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of creation, even the trees, shrubs, and flowers delight in your goodness with riotous colors and fragrances. From the depths of the soil to the highest mountain, you bring forth new plants for us to use and enjoy. Restore growth to all places suffering drought. Teach us to treat the natural world with reverence, seeking restoration when our actions have caused harm to your beloved creation. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of the nations, we pray for all leaders of the world and those in power, especially our president and congress. Grant them the ability to regard those under their governance with humility, dedicating their lives in service to others as they work toward a world where all your children may enjoy justice, mercy, and peace. Continue to bless negotiations and all diplomatic efforts in the Middle East to bring an end to all hostility. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of faithfulness, you show compassion to those in need and provide relief to those who call on you. Bless all who are in need this day especially Rusty (under hospice care), Shari (continued cancer therapy), Bert (under doctor’s care for cardiac problems), those suffering from COVID-19, together with those we name in our hearts that they may receive hope, healing, and the mercies rendered by us as God’s people. Be close to the hearts of all who are lonely or homebound, especially Sharon, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, Elma, and those we name in our hearts that they may be assured of your loving presence in our compassion, prayers, and care for them. Comfort Marguerite, MaryAnn and Mike who mourn the death of Charlie (beloved husband and father of MaryAnn).. Sanctify their tears and even now uplift their eyes to the joys and promise of eternal life promised to all who live and die in Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of love, this house of worship and this community of faith gathered around Word and Sacrament belong to you. Continue to set our gaze upon things eternal, that in thanksgiving for your mercy, we may extend your grace to more and more people.

Bless our time together with Pr. Eric and his family this morning. Guide the members of our Call Committee by your Holy Spirit in the discernment process of seeking a pastor to serve with us in this corner of your garden. Give us patience and keep us mindful that in due time you will provide us with a pastor yet unknown to us but known and loved by you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of the ages, we give you thanks for those who have gone before us with the sign of faith and are now at home with you. By your Spirit, bring us also to dwell in your house forever. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We raise our prayers to you, O God, trusting in your never-ending goodness and mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Heavenly Father, in Christ you have raised us up to new life. Receive what we have to offer, that others might know that life through the gifts you give to us

to use and to share in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

   And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

  We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

  It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for you have

had mercy on us and give your only-begotten Son

that whoever believes in him should not perish but

have eternal life.


We give you thanks for the redemption you have

prepared for us through Jesus Christ. Grant us

your Holy Spirit that we may faithfully eat and

drink of the fruits of his Cross and receive the

blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation that

come to us in his body and blood.

In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

And gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

   And also with you.

Lord, remember us in your Kingdom and teach us to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven;

hallowed be Thy Name,

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses .

as we forgive those

who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil;

For thine is the kingdom

and the power and the glory

forever and ever. Amen.


Distribution Music What Is This Bread? LSB 629



Jesus, Bread of life, at your table we have received more that we could

ever ask. As you have nourished us in this meal, now strengthen us to

love and serve the world with your own life. In your Name we pray. Amen.


SONG Rise, Shine, You People LSB 825 vs. 1 & 4(Join in singing)

Rise, shine, you people! Christ has entered

Our human story, God in Him is centered.

He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,

With grace unbounded.

Tell how the Father sent His Son to save us.

Tell how the Son, who life and freedom gave us.

Tell how the Spirit calls from ev’ry nation

His new creation.

+ With Great Boldness … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +