Faith Daily | 29 January 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Epiphany Three
through your Son you have called us to repent of our sin,
to believe the good news,
and to celebrate the coming of your kingdom:
teach us, like Christ’s first apostles,
to hear the call to discipleship,
and, forsaking old ways,
to proclaim the gospel of new life to a broken world;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
GOSPEL for the Day: Mark 4:26-34
26He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet 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.”
33With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Rev'd Graham
When I read or hear these two parables, I am reminded how Jesus expresses God’s presence in so many ways as he uses his parables. These two parables bring us into the natural surroundings where Jesus often found himself. However, whatever way he presents the message, we are able to relate to the meaning in what he is saying if we listen with open minds and hearts. Sometimes I feel as if I am one of the crowd who listen and might even have an “aha” moment when Jesus speaks through that moment. At other times I am like the disciples who need to have an explanation from a mentor before I can gain a full understanding.
The first of today’s parables has a number of messages for me. It reminds me that I am not totally in control of my environment, much as I would like to be at times. I seem to forget that the earth produces of itself, and that God is in charge. While we might be given the task to scatter seed on the ground among the people we serve, we sometimes need to leave it to grow, and give thanks for the harvest when it comes instead of becoming impatient if results don’t happen “now”. I certainly learnt this lesson while in active ministry. In Jesus’ explanation of the stages of plant growth, I believe that as well as the parable message concerning our relationships with others, we are called to appreciate our natural surroundings. (Not everything we need comes initially to us in bottles or packages. There have been many stages unseen beforehand.)
As I think and reflect on the second parable, I am reminded of so many people, both past and present, who have heeded God’s call, planted a mustard seed, and in their quiet and humble way have achieved wonderful results for the people they have served. (I will not start to list names for fear it may become too long, but leave it to you to recall those familiar to you.) Lives have been changed for the better by their love and actions, yet these people continue to be the smallest of all the seeds and either gain recognition only after their death or on occasion are forgotten, yet the results of their work in God’s name lives on. I pray that I, together with others, may be humble in showing God’s love as together we help people to grow in God’s presence in their lives.
FINAL PRAYER: Michael Leunig from "The Prayer Tree"
God bless the lone tunnellers;
those rare individuals whose joy and passion
it is to dig mysterious tunnels
beneath the surface of the earth;
who share the soulful purpose of moles and worms;
who labour gleefully beneath our feet
while we bask in the sun or gaze at the stars;
shoes pockets and cuffs are full of soil;
who dig faithfully in darkness,
turning left and turning right,
not knowing why or where,
but absorbed and fulfilled nevertheless.
Under houses; under roads and statues;
beneath and amongst the roots of trees;
on elbows and knees;
carefully, steadily pawing at their beloved earth;
sniffing and savouring the rich odour of the dirt;
dreaming and delighting in the blackness;
onwards and onwards, not knowing day or night;
unsung, unadorned, unassuming, unrestrained.
Grimy fingernailed angels of the underworld:
we praise them and give thanks for their constant,
unseen presence and the vast labyrinth
they have created beneath our existence.
We praise them and give thanks.