2nd Sunday after Trinity
Mark 4:26-34 2 Corinthians 5:6-17
If you’ve ever tried to sow a single mustard seed, you have my sympathy. It’s so small, you can hardly separate it from other mustard seeds in the same bag. And yet, as Jesus says, once sown, it grows into the greatest of all shrubs, so that birds can make nests in its shade. Have you noticed that God has a special interest in small things? But also that he has a tendency to make them healthy and grow? In all the parables that Jesus told, but also the miracles he did, it was about changing small into large; sickness into health; darkness into light; death into life. If you’re looking for examples, here’s just a few: the feeding of the five thousand with just five loaves and two fish; turning water into wine; healing sick people and raising the dead to life; parables about yeast, a lost coin, a lost son, and seeds that grow into a harvest. The word that binds them all is ‘change’. Change is a sign of growth, which is obvious, as growth requires change. Anything that grows bigger or deeper, goes through a process of change. Now I know that some people don’t like change. But if you think about it: all children, teenagers and adults were once babies. But without the process of growth that requires change, they wouldn’t have become what they are now.
When Jesus spoke about the seed that sprouts up and grows, he was talking about the kingdom of God that becomes more and more noticeable as it grows from small to great. And that kingdom is our aim and our purpose. It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t compare the kingdom of God to other kingdoms of the world. Rather, he looks at what’s seemingly insignificantly small, ordinary and common. The people he spoke to during his ministry were also seemingly insignificant, common and ordinary. He doesn’t speak to princes and governors, rather he takes time to address, reply and touch those without great names or titles or with no name at all. Jesus’ birth already speaks of God’s care for humanity in all its smallness: choosing a country girl to be the mother of God’s Son speaks volumes in that respect.
These last few days, we’ve heard a thing or two about some world leaders meeting to discuss ‘world-business’. If they are truly looking out for the weak and vulnerable, some things coming out of the discussions may be good; others are just ‘boasting in outward appearance and not in heart’, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5. What God looks for in a person is a change of heart, not a show of power. If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation, who walks by faith, not by sight, who works to please God, not their own ego. When the love of Christ inspires a person, great things happen. When those who live might live no longer for themselves but for Jesus, the one who died and was raised for them, that’s when we see growth as God has intended.
Thinking back to that mustard seed that grew into a large shrub, so that the birds of the air could build nests in its shade, we see how that works: the change that produced growth for the benefit of other creatures, whose lives then also become witness to God’s loving care. May our own growth, in deepening our faith, work in the same way: providing the space for others to grow and to flourish too. Amen.