2nd Sunday after Trinity

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.

 

Ezekiel 17.22-24

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.

“I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.”

 

2 Corinthians 5.6-10(11-13)14-17

We are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no-one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

 

Mark 4.26-34

Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

 

Reflection by the Revd Sandie


A seed is a mysterious thing. A kernel of corn, a grain of wheat, a mustard seed. Each seed contains instructions for how to reproduce itself. Not only that, each seed contains the instructions for the next generation to do the same. In other words, a seed stretches into the future, generation by generation. A seed also stretches into the past. Each seed contains the memory of the failures and successes of previous generations. This is the miracle of replication.

The farmers in Jesus’ day would have been awed by such a thing. Today we might fancy that we understand genetic coding. After all, we have learned and are still learning about DNA.  We grasp how a seed reproduces itself. But understanding some basic biological facts is quite different from grasping the mystery of the seed. How are  we to understand a mechanism that ensures the continuity of life across generations?

The Bible is full of seeds to plant, and by their fruits we shall know them...

These verses from Mark 4, tells us what the Kingdom of God is like. The Kingdom of God is a place where love flourishes. The Kingdom of God is already but not yet meaning that we see this Kingdom only in glimpses, Yet we have been given the job of workers in this Kingdom. We are to look for signs of the Kingdom and to cultivate them.

Some day a sickle will slice through the planet. Our works will be harvested, and we will be held to account for what we have planted, or failed to plant. What kind of seed are we planting? Science has led us to ever more complicated discussions about seeds, with important ramifications. We can now tinker with the genetic code of seeds. You’ve probably heard of heritage seeds, seeds that stretch back hundreds or even thousands of years, and GMO seeds (genetically modified organisms).

In Norway there’s a seed vault for heritage seeds of all kinds. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault began in 2008. It stores seeds from around the world as a hedge against some future global crisis. The world has faced agricultural crises before — think of the Irish Potato Famine in the late 1840s. A million people died in Ireland, a million more left the country and went to America, destitute. In the Seed Vault there are seeds for 32 varieties of potatoes from Ireland’s national gene banks. That is a fact worth pausing over. Great minds around the world know that we must work together to keep the world’s children from crisis.

The world cannot be dependent on a single species of anything. To do so is to invite catastrophe. The Seed vault is a global effort, containing seeds from the US, Canada, Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico, Syria and the Netherlands. Wikipedia tells us that the seed bank stores more than 930,000 samples of seeds, which represent 13,000 years of agricultural history.

The seeds in that vault are like the seeds in these parables. Each of the seeds that the farmer scatters summarizes millennia upon millennia of evolution. Each seed contains a promise of future plants for as long as the earth will last.

The farmer in the parable can trust the seed to grow according to the promise sealed in it. He or she MUST trust the seed to grow, for what else can a person do? The future lies in the seed and not in the farmer’s doings. It’s a humbling experience to grow seeds. One can only water, weed, and wait. Yet, Jesus used this metaphor to describe the coming of God’s kingdom. Which is really rather remarkable. A seed represents something we can’t control but upon which we depend. A seed looks simple, but it is complex. It represents relationships between water and soil and air and sunlight and farmer.

Any kingdom work depends on a balance between our part of the work and God’s part. One of the important decisions a farmer makes is deciding which seed to plant. What seeds are we planting today? Which seeds are we protecting? By their fruits we shall know them. By our fruits we shall be known.  Amen

Post Communion Prayer

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

2 Corinthians 5.6-10(11-13)14-17 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Ezekiel 17.22-24 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Mark 4.26-34 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Post Communion (2nd after Trinity) ©  The Archbishops' Council 2000
Collect (2nd after Trinity) ©  The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)