Collect and Readings for Second Sunday after Trinity 13th June 2021 Year B Ezekiel 17.22-end, Psalm 92.1-4, 11-14, 2 Corinthians 5.6-17, Mark 4.26-34;
The Prayer for today
Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ's sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
It may seem strange to us but in Israel in Jesus' time, tiny little mustard seeds could grow up to a metre and a half tall and spread very broadly. The local people would use the wood from the small tree as firewood. It's incredible to think that such a tiny seed really does grow into a reasonable sized spreading tree and of course the birds love to come and shelter in its branches. And so the mustard plant provides spicy flavour, fuel and shelter.
But what on earth was Jesus doing talking to people about mustard? Well, he often used things that were familiar to the local people to help describe and explain spiritual things which cannot be seen. Maybe there was a mustard tree close to where they were sitting and some of the seeds had already fallen to the ground.
Jesus said that the way God's kingdom grows is a bit like the way a mustard seed grows. It starts off very small and gradually grows into a huge plant. So if we think about it, the little seed, it could be an act of kindness we do which makes someone think to themselves, I wonder! They've become a Christian, and it seems to be changing them for the better. Perhaps there's something in this Jesus person after all!' I think that we may have seen this on occasions during the pandemic. Or perhaps you are the one in the office or at school who insists on honesty, even if you'd gain from being less honest, and someone notices and starts thinking. Or perhaps someone notices that you aren't that impressed by the labels people are wearing, even though they think that they are cool. During the pandemic I think that we have seen people really beginning to question what is important.
The little seed of God's kingdom is someone opening themselves up a tiny bit to the possibility of God being real and active in their lives. Gradually it grows in them. Perhaps they begin to ask more questions about God, perhaps they read some Bible stories or start coming to church. Perhaps they start to pray. Now that little seed can really begin to grow, because God can lead that person step by step as they get in touch with him more and more.
Sometimes the kingdom of God grows gradually as people pick up on teaching week by week or look at God's world with new eyes. Sometimes there is a sudden spurt of growth. Maybe a verse of Scripture hits home and we realise how our lives need to change, or maybe we suddenly sense that God is real and close to us in a time of sadness or joy.
Sometimes, of course, it can be a few years or a lifetime, that the little seed has grown in the person until they are so full of God in their life that they are standing tall and strong in faith and other people come to them for spiritual help and comfort, just like the birds coming to the branches of the mustard tree.
Some questions for you to reflect on:
How is God's kingdom growing in you? Is it still a tiny seed, full of hope but not yet fulfilling its potential?
Is it growing, putting out roots and shoots?
Or is it already tall and strong providing spiritual shelter for others to learn and grow?
Let's endeavour to help and support each other wherever we are on this journey of growth.
God bless and stay safe and well
Rev'd Fiona Robinson