A reflection for the 13th June 2021
Second Sunday after Trinity 2021
Offered for Sunday 13th June 2021
'Second Sunday after Trinity 2021'
Compiled 12th June 2021
In the 18th Century
Newspaper proprietor Robert Raikes
was appalled by the vice, degradation and
poverty he saw in the slums of his
native city of Gloucester.
He realised education was the way to save
children from the horrors he witnessed.
Against strong opposition both within and
outside the Church, in 1780 he opened the
first free school for poor boys.
The school was in a private house
and was on a Sunday because the boys worked
in factories during the week.
Using the Bible, the boys were taught to
read and write, as well as learning their catechism.
Within two years the School on Sunday movement
had spread and was soon open to girls as well as boys,
and eventually became a worldwide movement.
By 1831 School on Sundays were teaching a
quarter of the population,
and were the forerunners of the current
state school system here in Britain.
We read in Mark 4 v 30 - 32
Jesus also said,
'With what can we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable will we use for it?
31 It is like a mustard seed, which,
when sown upon the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
32 yet when it is sown it grows up and
becomes the greatest of all shrubs,
and puts forth large branches....
Let us Pray
Praise be to you,
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
For your great mercy in giving us
birth into a new life and a new hope
by raising Jesus Christ from death:
For an inheritance that can never
spoil or fade, kept for us in heaven:
For the protection of your power,
ours through faith,
until salvation comes at the end of time:
For the privilege of being called
to sow the mustard seeds of your Kingdom
in a waiting and needy world.
Father, to you be all praise and glory
and honour trough Jesus Christ,
your Son, our Lord.
The delightful thing about the works of
the Manchester painter L.S. Lowry
is they are so simple.
Matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs
as Brian and Michael sang in 1978?
You may even feel that you could have done them yourself!
We all drew those down the side of our exercise books at school.
But as you look at one of Lowry's paintings
you begin to see more than your first impression.
The smoke billowing from the mill chimney,
the old man bending over his stick
as he hobbles across the street,
the corner shop,
the washing line blowing in the wind,
the kids at play.
You find that all life is there.
So it is with the parables of Jesus.
At first they appear so simple.
The sower goes out to sow;
the traveller is waylaid by robbers;
the prodigal son spends all he has
and comes back home.
Each is a simple story and the simplest is
the one we read about in Mark 4: 26 to 34.
A seed is growing in the ground.
What could be simpler?
The farmer puts the seed in the ground,
he goes to bed night after night,
he rises day after day and the seed grows
until one day it's ready for harvest.
What could Jesus possibly mean by such a simple story?
The first thing Jesus wants to say is one day
God is going to surprise us all.
One day there'll come a harvest.
Then in goes the sickle because
the harvest has come.
The fact is the ministry of Jesus may not
always appear to be particularly exciting
from day to day, but be patient.
The kingdom is coming and like so many times
when Jesus talks about the kingdom
his disciples get the wrong idea.
They expect that the king will come
in power and great glory.
So Jesus has to put their thinking straight.
The kingdom of God will come in stages.
Gradually it will grow;
'Piece by Piece'.
At first germinating in the ground like a seed,
then breaking through the soil and growing.
The story warns us it's easy to despise slow growth.
It's something like baking a cake.
Once you've put it into the oven
you mustn't keep bringing it out to have a look
to see how it's coming on.
If you can only be patient,
you'll be rewarded when the time comes.
When it's fully cooked and cooled,
only then can we all have a slice.
But let's return to the parable.
It may be that Jesus' ministry didn't appear
to be producing much fruit,
but there have been many great movements
in the world which began with a small group
or even one person.
The worldwide phenomenon of the
Scouting movement founded by Robert Baden-Powell,
the Mothers' Union founded by Mary Sumner;
great missionary societies, like SPCK
founded by Thomas Bray in 1698
in the coffee houses of London,
the work of Madame Curie,
or Sir Alexander Fleming.
All came from a seed first sown by one person.
And subject to the scepticism of those around.
The Jews would have understood this.
They would remember the story of the prophet
Nehemiah when he set out with a few men
to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
The story is worth reading on how Nehemiah
and his workers carefully surveyed
the collapsed walls, the broken gates,
How they began their work to the taunts of
the local people, who came to watch,
shaking their heads and saying,
"What are these feeble Jews doing?
If a fox were to walk on the wall it would fall"
Read Nehemiah 4 for the full story.
The Jews would understand.
But for us, living in a different age,
we must choose how to apply the seed
growing secretly to the work we do
for the kingdom.
There may well be those who taunt us for our faith.
A good thing is to remember the promises of God
and to remind ourselves we work because
we believe it's God's call to us.
Jesus reassures us that the harvest will come.
And when it comes in, he will go with the sickle.
We might also recall the words of Nehemiah himself.
We work because we believe it is the will of God.
When the walls were completed,
they held a great festival at which Nehemiah
gave his slogan for the whole project:
"The joy of the Lord is your strength"
A slogan for then and a slogan for us now;
"The joy of the Lord is your strength."
There's often a great deal more to
the parables of Jesus than appears
on the surface.
Sometimes we need to dig deeply
to find the treasure.
The kingdom of God will come in stages.
Don't expect the harvest too soon.
Remember we are working for the kingdom of God.
The joy of the Lord will be our strength.
As you go out into the world
and face the challenges it brings,
may you be confident in the hope that
lies before you and be
encouraged by your faith.
And may God, who has called you into
new ways of seeing God's kingdom
of justice and joy, give you strength
and joy as you become citizens
in the kingdom.
And the blessing of God......