Ezekiel 17.22-24; Psalm 92.1-4,12-15;
2 Corinthians 5.6-10(11-13)14-17; Mark 4.26-34
Thus says the Lord God:’I myself will take a sprig
from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live: in the shade of its branches will nest, winged creatures of every kind.
All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord.
I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.’
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.
May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You may have noticed two events prominent in the news this week. For some, the main event of overwhelming importance is the Euro 20 Football Championships, with Scotland, Wales and England competing and holding the hopes of the home nations.
The outcome is as ever uncertain, but will this be the year that dreams come true for some football fans?
We might place our hope in our football teams, with uncertain outcomes but when it comes to the kingdom of God, our hopes are never in vain. Even the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord, says Ezekiel.
There might be surprises on the way, but with God’s kingdom, the outcome is certain – it will grow, and it will endure.
How easy are we finding it to have that hope and confidence in these days of pandemic and climate change?
How can we demonstrate to others that our hope is in Jesus? Points to ponder.
The second and perhaps slightly more important event is, of course, G7.
Reading as well as listening to the lovely anthem this morning, I noticed it was Gee7, not G7, sounding as if it’s addressed specifically to the leaders. It included many significant 7s, the Bible has many more (Google says 860 if you include seventh and sevenfold). See how many you can find - there may be prizes!
To get you started, the book of Revelation begins with seven churches being addressed, and at the other end of the Bible, in Genesis, God created the world in six days and on the seventh day, the Sabbath, he sat back and rested.
I don’t think the global leaders of the G7 gathered in Cornwall, will be sitting down to rest as they meet to discuss international issues such as poverty, climate and environmental degradation, education, peace keeping, the world economy, justice and tackling disease, particularly the ongoing pandemic. Another seven.
No holy day for them then.
The G7 talks, the culmination of many behind-the-scenes discussions over recent months but this face-to-ace meeting of world leaders, over just three days, could make a immeasurable difference to the future for the world. Our world. God’s world.
No pressure then.
The reading from Ezekiel uses the metaphor of trees to illustrate the control that God has over the fortunes of the nations, in fact over all life. This is both terrifying, because God brings destruction and judgement and hopeful, because God renews and restores.
But Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed; very small and yet it grows to ‘the greatest of all shrubs.’
Taking this thought, there are many small things we can do that will grow into something long-lasting and literally life-enhancing for our world and it’s people, God's people.
We can begin by praying that these three short days of G7 talks are successful.
Covid has shown how quickly we can react to one world crisis. Let’s pray that this success can be emulated across other problems threatening our existence; not just by scientists and politicians but by each one of us, one small thing at a time
We can be more thoughtful in our behaviour and speak up for a world of justice and equality for all.
We can be more thoughtful in our use of materials to create a cleaner, safer world for our children and grandchildren.
It can seem an impossible task but its like coping with the huge turkey we still have in our freezer from last Christmas. We’ll invite our friends and eat it a bit at a time.
Let’s not be the generation that’s run out of town, rather let’s create a legacy that shows both our hope and Christ’s love for our world, God’s world and all his people, now and in future generations.
I'd like to leave you with a picture to reflect upon for a few moments. See Featured Image
It is an image of the sculpture of the G7 leaders shaped like Mount Rushmore made of electronic waste which has been erected near Carbis Bay for the G7 Summit.
It's been named "Mount Recyclemore" and aims to highlight the damage caused by the disposal of electronic devices.
According to a United Nations report, more than 53 million tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019 - an increase of over 9 million tonnes in five years.