Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Mark 4:26-34 (Pentecost 4b 24)

    马可福音4:26-34(五旬节4b 24

    O precious ones of God – grace to you and peace, from God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen.



    • Do you ever make plans?
    • 你们有没有制定计划

    • Do you ever have expectations for yourself, for others, for God? (Pause)
    • 你们有没有为自己、他人、上帝有期待?(停顿 

    I remember years ago, being young. Yes, it must have been years ago. I remember making decisions then. I decided that if I ever was to get married I wouldn’t marry a woman who was a nurse, or an American or of Norwegian heritage. Now ... I’m not a person who usually is illogical. I did have reasons for my choices.



    I am an only child. My beloved Mother was a nurse and by the accounts from others who experienced her nursing skills that I was able to talk to – my mom was very fine one. However because she was a nurse my mom would often work shifts. She would be gone many nights. Occasionally she would work over time. Sometimes she wasn’t able to be home on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I didn’t like that! So i decided when I was quite young, that I wouldn’t marry a nurse.



    Later, when I was in university the Vietnam war was raging. I watched the news. I read voraciously . I thought I knew a lot. So, I protested the War. My stance as a teenager was against the government of the United States that was maintaining a war in a far off land that was costing untold loss of life both local civilians and soldiers on all sides. I was convinced that said war was also doing untold damages to the earth and her inhabitants. I also observed, albeit from a distance that the very fabric of the people of the US was being torn apart. And so, being young and brash I decided that I wouldn’t marry an “American”.



    And finally I grew up in a Norwegian Lutheran Church. Please don’t misunderstand me. The people of that church were by and large were “fine” – actually more than “fine”. Many of them had a strong if somewhat “private” faith. How they could sing! How they could pray aloud! But showing outward affection, letting others “into” what was actually going on in their lives – well, that was not one of their strong suits.



    Now, I like to be let in. I like to be told that I am loved, hugged. I like to be able to tell others that I love them. So again, when I was quite young I decided that it would be best for me not to marry a woman who was of Norwegian heritage.



    The years went by. I was now 27, in my first parish. One of my closest friends, Dave, was to be ordained in Winnipeg. Dave was an American citizen, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. He invited me to attend his ordination. Once there I met his amazing sister, Martha. And yes she too was an American and proud of it. And yes she happened to be of Norwegian heritage. And yes, she was also a very fine nurse.  Guess what. We fell in love. Within 16 months we were married. We have been blessed with each other for over 40 years – at least I have. I trust she feels the same way, at least most of the time.   



    Suffice it to say – things didn’t go according to my plans in terms of who I thought I would marry. But I am convinced that somehow God was at work in all of this – even though I often couldn’t see how at first.  (brief pause)

    可以这么说事情并没有按照我对自己将要娶的人的计划进行。但我深信,无论如何,上帝在所有这一切中都在工作即使起初我经常看不到是如何。 (短暂停顿


    Can you identify at all with my story: not necessarily with someone whom you fell in love with – but perhaps regarding the plans you may have had for your life, your career, or even where you thought you would live, or some of the people who became your friends, some of the challenges you have wrestled with in your life?  And where is God, how is God at work  in any or all of this??? (Pause)



    In Mark’s Gospel, indeed in Matthew and Luke’s too, Jesus often speaks communicating with any and all who will listen or hear by employing parables. Now parables  are .... I’m not sure what to say about them: they are stories that sometimes seem simple but aren’t. Parables at first glance may look quite simple, even plain. But upon closer examination, we may realize that they are anything but simple – or even moral lessons, like a fable. Looking closer the parables work on us – causing us to re-examine how we understand ourselves, others, even God.



    So, for example, today’s first parable. At first glance it looks simple. A person sows seed. It grows. It’s harvested. What’s unusual or compelling about any of this.



    But upon closer examination the Greek grammar leaves it unclear whether this man even knows if he has scattered “seeds” (the actual word is spores) After those spores have inadvertently been scattered the man goes about his normal business. A lot of sleeping is involved. But lo and behold those spores germinate. Something grows up: something good! Eventually it is time for the harvest. Then, this man who initially, maybe even accidentally spread these spores harvests the crop. . .



    Does this sound like any gardener you know? Do you know many gardeners who aren’t even sure if they have planted anything? Do you know any gardeners who after they have planted their seeds, just ignore everything until the harvest?



    The gardeners I know are people who get right down in the dirt among their seeds and plants. They carefully and faithfully weed and water. And then they delight as the plants grow, sprout, flower and or yield a harvest.



    Last Sunday I sat with a few ladies after Church, some of whom just happened to be gardeners. And what I heard them talking about involved some hovering, watering, weeding and delighting – not a lot of sleeping and ignoring of their plants and flowers. (brief pause)



    So, what on “earth” is Jesus talking about then in this first parable? The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed (spores) on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how...



    Might it be that God’s work, God’s power, God’s vulnerable captivating love is happening sometimes, even often when we aren’t aware of it, in ways that we could have never planned???



    Is that exciting? Is that frightening? What does this mean for us here and now? (brief pause) 



    So let me ask you a question: where or how do you see the presence of God, the influence, the power of God working in your life, around you, in the lives of other people and the world?



    This is a great question to be wrestled with almost anywhere – at coffee after church, over the kitchen table, in a pub, who knows -  maybe even at work – if you know someone else, some others there who are interested in exploring the profundity of life?

    这是一个几乎可以在任何地方讨论的重要问题 - 在教堂后喝咖啡时,厨房桌上,酒吧里,甚至工作中,如果你认识其他一些对探索生命深度感兴趣的人


    This very question thrusts us headlong, perhaps even kicking and screaming into the second of Jesus’ parables this morning. Jesus asks his listeners then and I us now, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; Yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”



    Again at first glance, this parable looks nice/simple. A small seed is sown. It grows and grows and grows until it is large. Then some birds come to nest in its shade. Shade is important in the Middle East. Ah, so relaxing!

    乍看之下,这个比喻似乎很简单而美好。一粒小小的种子被撒下,它长大成为一棵大树,鸟儿在它的荫下找到了栖息的地方。在中东,荫子是重要的 - 多么令人放松啊


    But wait a moment. Let’s add just a little bit of reality into our surface glance at the parable. Then entirely new possibilities open up! To be sure a mustard seed is small. But we must know that mustard is a weed! No gardener would knowingly plant a weed that would take over their entire garden. I mean when mustard grows and grows and grows it chokes out everything else. Nor is mustard the prettiest “thing” to look at.



    And as for the birds – well this parable follows almost directly on the heels of the parable of The Sower in Mark’s gospel. There birds were the creatures that came and ate the seed that was on the path. That seed never reached its ultimate goal ...  or did it? Was the goal of the seed to feed humans and or birds? (brief pause)

    至于鸟儿 - 嗯,这个比喻几乎直接跟在马可福音的撒种者的比喻后面。在那里,鸟儿是那些飞来吃掉路旁的种子的生物。那些种子永远也没能达到它们的最终目标...或者说它们达到了吗?这些种子的目标是喂养人类或者鸟类吗?(稍作停顿


    Might it be that God’s presence in Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit is sometimes like a weed – that God moves to numerous places and in ways we may not want God to move, influencing us beyond any plans that we may have expected or can possibly even at first understand? Could it be that God’s love and influence upon us is sometimes, maybe even often, invasive in ways that we may not want? I wonder. After all, we aren’t God. Remember, know: God in Jesus Christ becomes human, suffers and dies. Is that something we would have done, had we been God? (Pause)

    也许上帝在耶稣基督和圣灵中的存在有时就像一种杂草 - 上帝移动到无数地方,以我们可能不希望的方式影响我们,超越我们曾预期或起初能理解的计划。难道上帝的爱和对我们的影响有时,甚至经常,以我们不希望的方式,具有侵略性吗?我在想。毕竟,我们不是上帝。记住,知道:上帝在耶稣基督里成为人类,遭受苦难和死亡。如果我们是上帝,我们会做同样的事吗?(停顿


    So, let me ask again. How does God work in our lives, in your life, in my life? How does God work in the life of the world? How is God working? (Pause)



    Let me close with a kind of parable:



    There once was a Pastor and a congregation. They were kind of a normal congregation and a normal pastor, if there are such things. One day one of the older women in the congregation died. Now this woman was generous, kind. She had been a nurse. She was a musician, a pianist to be exact. Although she deeply loved children, she didn’t have any children of her own. When this woman died she left a significant amount of money to her congregation, with no strings attached.



    Wowsers! How could the congregation decide to do with all that money?



    Suggestions from the entire congregation were solicited and submitted. Cost values were researched and assigned to each suggestion. The list was distributed two weeks before the congregational meeting when decisions regarding the gifted money would be made. ON the day of the meeting each member of the congregation was given 3 dots. They could place their dots wherever they chose in any way they chose.  After the voting was completed the following decisions were made:



    A significant amount of money was given to an Argentinian congregation that needed money to erect a building. Out of their building their community would worship, have a Sunday school and run a medical clinic.



    Another chunk of money was dedicated to purchasing a grand piano for the congregation.



    And the last chunk of money was to be allotted to paving the gravelled parking lot in front of the church building...



    Walking home that night across the gravelled parking lot the pastor was thanking God for the peoples’ wise decisions on the first 2 counts. He knew that lady’s life, hopes and dreams were honored in those choices. And he felt that even God may be pleased. But when it came to that parking lot being paved, he was not as happy. Certainly, he reasoned, the money could have been spent on less “selfish” endeavors. So, as he was walking home he was complaining to God.



    Let me tell you when the people of that congregation were committed to something they got it done. Within 3 days – the parking lot was paved. It was summertime. Now when the Pastor walked across that lot from the parsonage the heat was almost like a furnace.

    让我告诉你,当那个教会的人们决心做某事时,他们总能做到。在三天内 - 停车场就铺好了。那是夏天。现在,当牧师从牧师住宅穿过停车场时,热浪几乎像一个熔炉


    But – and this is a wonderful but – within one day, many of the kids in the neighborhood, started to play in that parking lot. They skipped rope, they rode their bicycles, they skateboarded and raced small wagons across it. And the light began to go on in that young Pastor’s head. Maybe God was at work in all of this, all along and he just hadn’t seen it! He smiled went out to play with the kids. He thought he could even see that older lady, the source of the bequest smiling at his lack of sight and faith.

    但是 - 这是一个奇妙的但是 - 在一天之内,许多邻里的孩子们开始在那个停车场玩耍。他们跳绳、骑自行车、滑板,还用小车竞速。在那年轻的牧师的脑海中,灵光乍现。也许上帝在其中始终在工作,只是他没有看到!他微笑着出去和孩子们一起玩。他觉得甚至可以看到那位老妇人,捐赠的源头,因他的视而不见和缺乏信仰而微笑


    Finally, when that  Pastor left that congregation many years later, he noticed a few dandelions poking up through the pavement in the parking lot. ... It was amazing! (Pause)



    The kingdom of God, the influence of God, the love of God and the direction of God in jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. Yet when it is sown it grows up.... 



    Dear people – where is God working in your life, in our lives, in the life of the world around us? And how are we responding?

    亲爱的人们 - 上帝在你的生活中,在我们的生活中,在我们周围的世界中工作在哪里?我们又如何回应


    May God give us eyes to see, ears to hear, mouths to sing and hearts to joyfully respond – for the sake of God who loves this world so much. Amen.

    愿上帝赐予我们洞察力,使我们能够听到,口中歌唱,心中喜悦地回应 - 为了那位如此爱这个世界的上帝。阿门



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