The Rev’d Robert Warren
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9

What is an “occasion”? It’s a great word not limited to:

“place” and

but describing the whole envelope (including, sometimes, “time”, “cause” or “opportunity”) in which things happen (or don’t). Things don’t only come to be because humans will them into existence. They happen because the time is right, because the season is ripe or because the right people happen to be present around Jack’s dinner table one evening. History unfolds because of happy accidents or the chance meeting of minds or the mysterious mingling of God’s grace and human personalities. We don’t always know why, in spite of our best intentions, things don’t work out the way we want them to. They fizzle - sometimes
absolutely. Sometimes we have to wait. Things happen in May which could not possibly have happened in February because the occasion was not right.

It’s all a great mystery and an awful lot of fun. It’s what makes the Bible a massive history of reversals and seemingly chance encounters where misfits become leaders, saints become sinners and where mountains and hills are laid low while the undeserving valleys are raised up.

Two readings today - the reading from Romans 8 and the Gospel reading from 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel - put paid to the idea that we, who are in our prime, can will something into existence because of our strength and our good looks. The same world is one place for those who set their minds on the “things of the flesh” and quite another for those who have encountered, and are inhabited by, the Spirit of God (Romans 8). The same potent seed
which falls on good ground and produces a crop will wither away and die when planted on thin soil or among weeds (Matthew 13). 

You might be frustrated, in the case of both readings, that there is no clear and unequivocal recipe for how to make all of this better - how to be good ground or how to gain a certainty that you have the Spirit of God. But then again - maybe that’s the capable man or woman in you - the doer the maker, the mover and shaker - who wants to know where the button is so you can push it and make life good and who still, after all this, wants to be in control.

For you, I hope that your understandable frustration will turn to hunger for what is not yours to give yourself. Hunger for what you had not imagined you needed; hunger for what you have not even conceived of and that you will have occasion to take your place at a table you have not set for yourself.

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