8th Sunday after Pentecost

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary
Genesis 28:10-19a 
139:1-12, 23-24
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Catholic lectionary:
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
65:10, 11, 12-13, 14
Romans 8:18-23
Matthew 13:1-23


Old Testament (notes by Rev Dr Dave Bookless)
This is the well-known story of Jacob’s dream at Bethel where he sees a ‘stairway to heaven’ with angels descending and ascending, and receives God’s promise of land, descendants and blessing. Many people see faith as about a ‘stairway to heaven’, a means of getting away from earthly problems and troubles and ascending to a more spiritual realm of union with God. Yet, what happens here is the opposite! Rather than Jacob going up to heaven, God roots him more deeply on the earth.

Like many of the promises to the patriarchs, land is at the heart of it. Thirty-nine out of forty-six promises God makes to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are largely or partly about land. The promise is about a place to put down roots and experience God’s blessing. It wasn’t a promise about land-ownership in an exclusive sense, but about being placed and at home in order to be able to bless others (14b). Significantly, the very earthy place where Jacob has this dream is renamed ‘Bethel’, or house of God, because the Bible’s promise is not that our home is in heaven but that God’s home will be with mankind (Revelation 21:3).

Psalm (notes by Rev Dr Dave Bookless)
A beautiful and familiar Psalm, perhaps one that some will know by heart, and others might want to learn. It tells of God’s intimate loving knowledge of each of us from before our birth and wherever we wander to. God is not a cosmic policeman watching for our mistakes but a loving parent seeking to protect and guide. Alongside the very personal application each of us can find here, it also tells us that God is Omnipresent, everywhere all-at-once (as the film title puts it). As Creator, God is not an absentee owner but is closely, attentively and lovingly involved in every part of creation.

[see two sermon outlines below] 

Gospel (notes by Rev Dr Dave Bookless)
The Parable of the Weeds (13:24-30) and its interpretation by Jesus (36-43) form part of Jesus’ teaching on God’s Kingdom (the Kingdom of Heaven). The word used for weeds or ‘tares’ (KJV) may refer to Darnel (Lolium temulentum), a ryegrass which resembles wheat in the early stages of growth. When the disciples ask Jesus to interpret the parable, we see that the focus is eschatalogical, on the final judgement when the Son of Man (Jesus) returns.

Jesus gives a detailed explanation. The world is the field, and Jesus is the one who sows good seed. The Devil, or enemy, sows the weeds. The plants that grow refer to believers, the people of the Kingdom, whereas the weeds belong to the evil one. The harvesters are angels, and there is a vivid picture of judgement as a blazing furnace into which the weeds are thrown. What are we to make of this today, and is there any ecological application? Clearly, it is a dualistic picture in terms of good vs. evil. Evil is real, active and destructive, and those who give themselve over to evil face God’s judgement. However, judgement is God’s businesss, not ours. We are to leave the weeds to grow amongst the wheat. Most interpreters see this as a picture of the Church as well as the world. There will be divisive and destructive influences at work, but we should resist the temptation to have a ‘pure’ or ‘perfect’ Church. Weeds should be tolerated, as judgement belongs only to God.

Perhaps we can apply this too in terms of eco-activism. Both in society and in the Church, we’ll find the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ in terms of taking seriously the damage being done to God’s creation and the urgency of tackling it. Whilst we can campaign and demonstrate against structures (economic and political) and organisations (eg. businesses) that are damaging the planet, we must be careful not to judge and condemn individuals too harshly. As Jesus put it, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).


Two sermon outlines are provided here, one from a professional scientist and lay preacher, and one from a pastor and amateur conservationist.

Sermon 1. Romans 8:19-23 – Dr. Rodel Lasco


The Philippines has one of the most diverse natural ecosystems in the world. Sadly, much of its lush tropical forest ecosystems have been destroyed in the past century. The causes are similar as other tropical countries: rampant cutting of trees, conversion to other land uses, and lack of sound planning, among others. 

How different must it be in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall! One can just imagine the peace and harmony that exists between our first parents and the rest of creation. But when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the while creation fell with them. 

Message: God will liberate the whole creation from the bondage of sin when Jesus returns. 

I. A Frustrated Creation
God designed all creation for His glory and honor. Before the Fall, God pronounced all of them as good. However, when sin entered the world, humans forced nature to serve their wicked purposes. All around us, we can see how one thing can serve holy purposes, but also evil ones. Metals can be used to manufacture a scalpel that could remove cancerous cells. But they can also be used to make guns that murder people. Chemicals can be used to make medicines to save life, but also poison for taking life.

In this passage, Paul personifies all creation as frustrated and groaning. Instead of serving for the glory of God, humans have forced them to aid in their rebellion against the Creator. 

Application: We must examine how we use and interact with nature. Implied in this passage is the concern of God for the rest of His creation. This rebukes all those who use nature to pursue evil ends. 

II. A Future Liberation
Despite the rampant destruction of nature around us, the future is bright. Paul said that creation will be liberated from its bondage (v21). He implies that this will happen when Christians are also full freed from their sinful bodies (v23). What a sight it will be! God will renew heaven and earth and bring them to its pure splendor. 

Application: Christians must show the world how creation should be cared for. As God’s viceroy and stewards in this world, we must set an example to the rest of humankind. We must show the world that there is a bright future for the world. 

Christians must look forward to the day when they will be glorified at the coming of Jesus. Part of their blessings is the total renewal of the natural world. May we long for that day!


Sermon 2. Romans 8:17-23 – Pastor Dave Trinidad

            God’s Redemption Plan Includes Creation

  1. The Church Awaits Redemption (17-18)
  2. Creation Awaits the Redemption of the Church (19-21)
  3.  The Church “Groans” with Creation (22-23)

God is a Redeemer! (Isaiah 44:6-8). God does not intend to destroy His creation, He intends to redeem it! The end of the world is not destruction, it’s redemption.

· It is not destruction but redemption that demonstrates the goodness of God. 
· God is at work from Creation to final Redemption.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world (cosmos)…
Proposition: God is a redeeming God. His salvation plan includes His creation.

Message: Will God destroy the earth?

Some people believe that God will eventually destroy the earth!
o   Not by flood (Genesis 9:11)
o   But by fire! (2 Peter 3:10)

Some people reason that since God is going to destroy the planet, why care for creation?

  • It is futile to preserve the resources
  • Counter: So why still care for the body if it’s going to die anyway?

 The destruction will not be total.

Why would God do that? Preserve the old and not make brand new ones? 

  • Because God loves his creation and redeeming them back to their original state and purpose give Him glory!
  • The ultimate end of creation is not destruction, it’s redemption.

Creation Redemption Plan
Romans 8 is a rich passage that tells us God’s global/universal perspective on redemption.

 I.         The Church Awaits Redemption (17-18)
The gist: The children of God are co-heirs with Christ in sufferings and glory.

  • We suffer in this world with Christ 
  • Suffering is not the end, the end is glory with Christ!
  • We have a great destiny in Christ!

II.         Creation Awaits the Redemption of the Church (19-21)

  • We are mistaken if we think we are the ones waiting for creation to be restored first. No. Creation is waiting for us to be revealed first.
  • Our glory first and then creation moves into our glory.
  • Meanwhile, creation is suffering and waiting….
  • “subjected to frustration” see Genesis 3:17-19 “Cursed is the ground”

“Joy to the World” (Isaac Watts)
 No more let sins and sorrows grow
 Nor thorns infest the ground;
 He comes to make His blessings flow
 Far as the curse is found.

  • When God’s children are finally glorified with Christ, then they can truly enjoy the redeemed creation, not a cursed world but a restored, resurrected universe free from decay, disease, and death!

III.        The Church “Groans” with Creation (22-23)

  •  These verses tell us how connected we are to creation. Human beings and the Earth are inseparably linked. (Adam was formed from the ground. That is significant. Humanity is from the earth and for the earth.)
  • As creation wasn’t only about us, so redemption is not only about us.

Lessons and challenges: Believers / Christians must be the best care-takers of creation.

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization Cape Town, South Africa, October 2010:

  •  Creation care is a priority for the Lausanne Movement
  • “Creation care is a gospel issue within the Lordship of Christ.”

The Good News is more than the fact that Christ died for individual sinners. It is a cosmic story of God’s mission in the world, with the invitation to us to participate with him in this mission.

  1.  As God’s stewards of Creation
  2. As God’s Agents of Redemption

 What we did in our local church:

  1. Creation Care worship celebrations (outdoor worship, Creation Sundays)
  2. Decluttering (home and church)
  3. Urban gardening (vegetable gardening for our poor communities)
  4. We included Stewardship / Creation Care modules in our discipleship program.



Illustration— The Philippines is considered a mega-diversity country rivaled only by a few countries in the world when it comes to variety of ecosystems, species and genetic resources. Many of the island comprising the archipelago are believed to have a very high degree of land and animal endemism. The country hosts more than 52,177 described species of which more than half is found nowhere else in the world. On a per unit area basis, the Philippines probably harbors more diversity of life than any other country on the planet.  https://dicf.unepgrid.ch/philippines/biodiversity Accessed 29/06/2023

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Dr. Rodel D. Lasco

Dr. Rodel D. Lasco is based at University of the Philippines Los Baños, School of Environmental Science and Management. He has more than 35 years of experience in natural resources and environmental research, conservation, education and development at the national and international level. His work has focused on issues related to natural resources conservation, climate change and land degradation. Since 1999. he is an author for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He is also a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) in the Philippines. As a committed Christian, he preaches on Creation Care, is currently acting Chair of A Rocha’s Associated Project, ‘Christians in Conservation‘ Philippines, and also serves on the global Board of A Rocha International.

Ps. Dave Trinidad

Ps. Dave Trinidad is Senior Pastor of Sampaloc Bible Christian Community (SBBC) in downtown Manila, Philippines. The church’s motto is ‘Building lives, transforming communities, through God’s Word, for God’s glory!‘ Pastor Dave is also a passionate wildlife photographer, specialising in the birds of the Philippines. Seeking to integrate his faith and his love for nature, he became involved as a Trustee of A Rocha’s Associated Project, ‘Christians in Conservation Philippines‘.

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