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Sermon from the Vicarage

Mark 4. 26-34   The Parable of the Growing Seed

 He also said, The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

 He also said, 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 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.

The Use of Parables

 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

I am told that in physics small things create a problem. Can something be infinitely small? Is matter a series of Russians dolls that get smaller and smaller until there is an end.  It starts with Atoms, then we divided the atoms into smaller parts and physicists are discovering even smaller parts than that. And that is just physical stuff, there is energy and space. The big question is just how small the universe is.

Roy Castle said this joke: What do you call a Scottish man without a sense of generosity?

So as we are on money what do we need look after in order for pounds to look after themselves?

Relationship advisers  suggest that it is the small things that make a difference. But what they are pointing out is that it is noticing the small things, as the song goes And that laugh that wrinkles your nose, it touches my foolish heart.

Our gospel reading is about the Kingdom of God and it starts small.

Jesus describes the KOG in terms of reckless generosity, A farmer scatters seed. The KOG may start small, but it is not small in vision. It is something not carefully placed, but scattered with abandonment and joy, picture Shan planting seeds and you will get the picture.

And then there is the mystery of growth, once the seed has been scattered, all the farmer can do is wait for the seed to sprout. You are called to scatter, the mystery of the kingdom is that it grows and then we are called to harvest.

Too often we focus on the growth, but we are not called to that work, that is a mystery. We are called to scatter and to gather. So when thinking about your part in the Kingdom of God, what is it that you are scattering and gathering?

Are you like Private Frazer in Dads Army going around thinking We are Doomed and then finding evidence to prove our point? Of course you could also be hopelessly optimistic as well. But what you scatter and gather are important. Jesus spoke of the Golden Rule Treat others as you would want to be treated yourselves There is a scattering and a gathering in the kingdom of God.

The second Parable is one about extravagant growth. Small tiny seed, grows into a big plant and the the smallest creatures can find shelter. The KOG is small, it starts small, but when it grows its impact is huge.

A young woman from Macedonia walks into the poverty of Calcutta. The poverty is rampant and huge, what could one young woman do in the midst of such need? She started small, looking at the loved humanity of those around, loving and caring. That woman is of course Mother Theresa. You may look at her and say I cannot do that. But what did she do?

She said   Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. She reflected on the immense need she encountered and said I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.    For Mother Theresa she started with love.

God scatters his love to us in Jesus. We know that he did not love a select few, he loved all, even those who rejected him. He prayed for the men who hammered nails into his wrists and feet Father Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. At the heart of Christianity is a God of infinite love who loves all. There is a reckless generosity.

And your response is to allow that love to take seed into your heart and life, to allow that love to grow and to make space for others to know and receive love. Belief is not just about what is in your head, it is about how you live. It is about that extravagant growth we encountered in the mustard seed.  People may forget the words you say, but they will never forget the impression that you leave, so love……..

A church army sister works with street prostitutes in Sheffield, She uses another name because of the real danger from the pimps. And what does she do? She befriends them, she gets to know their names, their life story. They are treated not as a commodity, but as a human being loved and valued by God. There is reckless genorosity and growth in the lives of those young women, they find safety and love.

And how about us? Well we are called to love those we encounter.

Think of those people who drain you, the people who when they enter the room you avoid eye contact and look busy, you are called to love them.

Think of those people who you encounter day by day, those who you take sometimes for granted. You are called to love them.

Think of those people, whose plight moves you to tears or to anger. You are called to love them.

I do not know how you should love them, but I think you know and we are called to love first in an extravagant way and in a small way. And hopefully they will find a safe place in the extravagant growth of the KOG.

I end with the words from Mother Theresa

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

 

Written by Ray Khan (14/06/2015)