This reflection was given by our Authorised Lay Minister Carol during Morning Worship on on Sunday 13 June 2021.
During Lent we received a packet of seeds to plant representing new life, nurture, and growth. Let’s call these our Kingdom Seeds, I very carefully and very delicately took the packet, opened it gently and then just… scattered them over the bottom of the garden, here, there, and everywhere, just to see where the fertile bits of the garden are, and what unexpected things start to grow. Often the fertile bits can be in the unexpected places. The obvious places may not produce the best fruit.
Now I’ve done quite a bit of gardening in my time, come across all kinds of plants, but kingdom seeds are a very particular kind of seed. Rather unique. They don’t look as if they are up to much at all, rather small and insignificant really. But here’s the thing, these tiny little seeds may look like something you might brush up off the floor, just like a few bits of dust perhaps, but they have all kinds of life tucked away inside them. All they need is a bit of nurturing and watering and caring and you’d be surprised what they can produce. These seeds can grow in the most unexpected ways and all kinds of things can happen. Some of them grow up so big that birds come from all over just to get a bit of shade. It’s amazing what one tiny little seed can produce. Some folks don’t see much going on with the tiny specks of life, but believe me, it’s worth having a go. A seed like this can change a person’s whole life. So why not have a go yourself? Sow a few kingdom seeds and see what happens.
In our Ezekiel reading this morning we have the story of the cedar tree in which God looked at the tall cedars, stretching high into the sky. He looked at the very top shoots, the new ones. They were pale green and very delicate. Gently he picked the most delicate sprig and planted it. He fed and watered it. He helped the new roots to stretch down into the soil. The tip he grew upwards towards the light.
Year after year God grew the sapling. Its roots he grew deep into the earth, providing the tree with nourishment and a strong base. He grew the trunk tall and straight. The branches he grew out wide. Animals and birds came from miles around to make their homes there. It was teeming with life. People came and sat in its shade, resting their backs against the thick trunk. They watched the life in the branches and felt the life flowing from the roots to the topmost shoots. In the pouring rain and the heat of the sun they sheltered there. All who inhabited the tree, the whole community felt God’s presence there. All the work he had done growing the tree had provided a place of safety, security and nourishment. Many of us feel God’s presence in the garden.
How many of you have grown mustard and cress from seed? As you know, we start with a tiny seed and plant it, and then within a few days the seed sprouts and grows into a plant, that we can then harvest and enjoy in an egg sandwich!
A mustard seed – you can’t get much tinier than that, it’s hard to believe it grows the way it does. Yet isn’t that the way life so often turns out, small beginnings can bring the most amazing results, if only we have eyes to see. The growth of God’s Kingdom is just like this, we plant a seed or a sapling, we nurture it. It grows and blossoms. As with a mustard seed here in Church we only need to love and nurture our young people or new members of our congregation and watch how they grow and blossom in faith.
In Jesus’ day, people in Palestine also grew mustard plants from seed, but the mustard plants became great big plants, not small plants like we have here. Jesus tells us that this is what the Kingdom of God is like. As we cannot move about at present, I want you to imagine that you are Jesus, and that you are bringing in God’s kingdom. You are calling people to turn to God, and to put their lives under His rule. In your mind’s eye think about 2 people who listened to your message and became your first followers.
Now Jesus told His first followers to go out into the world and share the good news of God’s love, so that other people could turn to God, allowing Him to reign over their lives too. So, all of you imagine that you have shared God’s love with 2 other people and they have chosen to follow Jesus – they also tell 2 more etc. Can you see how the Kingdom of God is growing……a bit like a plant growing? Can you imagine the knock-on effect that would have upon God’s kingdom as they went on to tell others too? Today the Kingdom of God has spread all across the world, and people of all different ages and races are following Jesus, but the Kingdom keeps on growing and growing, because God our Heavenly Father wants all of us to know His love. So today, you might think that you can’t do much to change the world, after all what can one person do? But be encouraged that God’s way of working is by starting small and allowing that small beginning to grow into something much bigger.
During the 10 days of Our Kingdom Come, between Ascension and Pentecost we were encouraged to pray for 5 people, so why don’t we continue to spend a few minutes each day praying for 1 or 2 of your friends to come to know God’s love and then find an opportunity to tell them? We all have an important part to play in growing God’s kingdom. This is how we, in our year when we praise, pray and prepare, can begin to think how we can grow the Kingdom of God.
One little seed planted in the mind of another will flourish and grow and spread throughout our community, throughout the world. God’s hand at work. We all have a responsibility to make it happen through word and deed to bring the Kingdom closer. Never give up, never lose faith, for the kingdom will flourish. Over time there will be many who will come and follow in the light of Christ.
The Kingdom of God – Jesus’ Kingdom and that of His Heavenly Father – exists wherever He lives and rules by faith. Through the incomprehensible and irresistible seeds of faith, our Kingdom Seeds. His Kingdom exists in our hearts and the hearts of all believers, in His holy church on earth, and ultimately in heaven. The Kingdom of God is a mystery – it grows secretly. People respond differently to the message of the Kingdom of God which begins with Jesus’ words and teachings. The Kingdom of God starts small with the individual and increases to include the whole of society.
May God bless us as the seed of faith continues to multiply within us and overflows to the planting of the same seed in the hearts and lives of those around us, so that there is an even more bountiful harvest of souls. This is what the kingdom of God is like!
From “Your Kingdom Come” we pray:
We are watching
We are waiting
We are hoping
We are praying
Let your Kingdom come.
Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever.
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