Sunday 13 June – 2nd Sunday after Trinity 


The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.

Collect

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

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First Reading

Ezekiel 17.22-24

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.  I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.

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 Gospel

Mark 4.26-34

Such a large crowd gathered around Jesus that he got into a boat and began to teach them using many parables.  Jesus 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.’

Jesus 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.’  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.

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 Post Communion Prayer

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Sermon

Trinity 2 – 2021

 I have to confess that I am not a keen gardener.  I don’t have greenfingers and I think that the plant world is probably rather scared of me.  But, several years ago I was given some rose bushes as an ordination present.  I dutifully planted them and put compost down and watered them and did all the other things which you’re supposed to do and then I waited.  I waited for quite some time and being someone who tends towards impatience, I was rather proud of myself for waiting.  Yet throughout the period of waiting there was the what if question!  What if this bush does not grow and produce roses.  I think deep down I very much wanted to see the finished product – I wanted to see rich red blooms.  Like the sower in our parable this morning, I had prepared the ground, I had planted and I was waiting for the growth that led to the end product.

When we witness in action to the Gospel by prayer and also in more visible ways we become the fertile soil in which the Kingdom takes root.  We become signs or symbols of the Kingdom of God which all may see and so find shelter under its spreading branches.  Through being signs of the Kingdom, we may also inspire and encourage others to discover more about the kingdom for themselves – we become evangelists – bearers of the Good News and it is worth bearing in mind that we may be the only bearer of the Good News that another person comes across.

To bear Good News in this way is a responsible task yet it is what each one of us is called to do.  It is also worth bearing in mind that we may not see the results of how the Good News actually affects others.  We may only sow the seed while others nurture it.  Alternatively, when we take Christ’s Good News to others we may in effect be nurturing what others have sown.  Either way, our sharing of the Good News, of what God has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ, is vitally important in the missionary work of the Church.

The seed, which we heard about in our reading this morning is the Word of God and by this I don’t just mean the set of texts which we call scripture – I mean the underlying message which scripture gives to us, namely the work of God finding its fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

When the Word takes root the Kingdom grows. We are called to receive the Word and to meditate upon it in prayer so that it may take root in us and bear fruit in our lives.  Meditating through prayer is a quest.  It is a search for God and a waiting upon Him.  The mind seeks to understand the whys and hows of the Christian life, in order to adhere to and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain, but we need to persevere – even the great saints down through the centuries found attentiveness in prayer difficult.

I’m reminded here of a story of Michael Ramsey, the late Archbishop of Canterbury.  He was once asked by a journalist how long he spent in prayer each morning.  ‘Oh about a minute’ replied the Archbishop and then after a pause added ‘but I spend an hour preparing’. We may be helped in prayer by books and there are many around today, be it the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, and other works of spirituality.

To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, in a sense, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. We discover in prayer and meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?

Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, but a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer and that is towards Christ himself.  Prayer which leads to Christ is authentic prayer and takes a lifetime to perfect, it is easy to be discouraged, yet perseverance is something to ask God for – we are often far harder on ourselves than God would ever be!

All of our gifts are used in authentic prayer, including mental reflection. To attempt to escape our thoughts in prayer, to attempt to escape the self in any way, is to deny the offering of that gift to God in prayer.
Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This use of our faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ.

So we need to cultivate the soil, we also need to plant the seed, to water it and stand back and watch God work.  The result is often far greater than we can possibly imagine.

Amen