There will be no service on Thursday (17th June) but there will be Holy Communion on Sunday (20th June) commencing at 9.30am.
The church is not yet open on Tuesday mornings for prayer or coffee mornings. We are awaiting final advice (along with everyone else) from the Government.
“Small is beautiful”. I don’t know what first said that, but I for one wholeheartedly agree! Jesus certainly seems to believe that small things have great potential. In St Mark’s gospel he used that image of a mustard seed. He is not speaking about the cress that we normally associate with mustard seeds. Instead, he means a large and bushy plant that begins life as a small seed.
Jesus uses this as an image for speaking about the kingdom of God – the way in which God’s reign of justice and peace, compassion and joy enters into our world. This started in a small way. Jesus didn’t infiltrate the corridors of power, but allied himself instead to a small number of ordinary people. It was through the lives of these imperfect disciples that the power and the wisdom of God could be seen at work in our world. That power to change people’s lives and to challenge the injustice of the world began in a small way.
St Mark’s gospel highlights the way in which Jesus did not allow anyone to hijack his mission on earth. For this reason, he swore his disciples to secrecy. Jesus had not come to enjoy being famous or to wield earthly power. Just as a seed is buried in the earth and begins to grow in the darkness, so the kingdom of God developed in unseen ways. Bit by bit it took root and grew, began to put out branches and to bear fruit. Jesus did not want people to mistake him for a worldly leader. Instead he wanted them to see how it is God who brings about the growth and the change that makes us into better people and our world a better place to live.
This past week we have been hosting the G7 Summit of world leaders. At its best this can bring about much-needed change in our world, promoting a more just and peaceful world order and a better future for our planet. I pray that these are the things that will emerge from this past week. The G7 are of course not the smaller, poorer countries of our world, but the rich and the powerful. We might ask: “Who are we to make a difference? Surely change is up to those who hold the levers of power. Looking at today’s gospel passage and at a number of others besides, I think that Jesus would disagree.
Not long ago I read a little book called “No one is too small to make a difference.” It was by the young climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Whether or not you like her style, there is no doubt that she has made her voice heard and through sheer determination her message has got through to some of the people with the power to make a difference. Of course, this can only happen when a large number of other people are inspired and catch the vision. As far as Jesus was concerned, his life-changing message entered into the hearts, first of just a few people, but then of a growing and far-reaching number of new disciples. The change has been a lasting one. Through this the church continues to take root in new places and the message of the gospel still changes people’s lives.
The kingdom of God enters into our own lives through the quieter acts of prayer; through allowing God’s word to find a place in our hearts; through receiving the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and through living as Jesus showed us. We might wonder what difference our quite faith and our small acts of kindness can make. A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, put it much better than I could:
“… consider the glory of Christianity is its claim that small things really matter; that the small company, the very few, the one man, one woman, one child are of infinite worth to God… for the infinite worth of the one is the key to the Christian understanding of the many.”
If Jesus had intended it any other way, then he would not have begun his ministry with a tiny bunch of fishermen. It is through the lives of ordinary people that the most vital change takes place, often in quiet and unseen ways. Above all, it is not human power that changes our world, but the power of God working through human lives. This is the power that enables our little offering to grow and to flourish like the mustard seed in the parable.
So let’s never say to ourselves that it is not worth trying. Small acts of understanding, of compassion and of devotion can change people’s lives, even if we never see the results of it ourselves. The Church of England today seems very keen on results, on numbers, on things that can be measured and compared. These worldly ways of thinking can seem to be at odds with the way that Jesus worked: changing lives and changing the world through humble and modest acts of loving service. Small really is beautiful. Let’s embrace it and invite God to work through our lives, so that the kingdom of God may grow in this place.