The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introductions to the readings for the third Sunday after Pentecost

Our readings for this morning are complimentary in nature though their contexts are set some 600 years apart. In both readings we are reminded of God’s mysterious power at work in all circumstances.

In the first reading attributed to the radical visionary priestly prophet, Ezekiel, we are offered a word of hope that God will bring God’s people through a time of despair and devastation:
A reading from the prophet, Ezekiel 17: 22-24 “God’s Good Creation”
“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 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 will bring low the high tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.”

We respond to this reading from our Hebrew Scripture texts as we sing together our responsive hymn found at VU#296 “This is God’s Wondrous World”

Our good news this morning come to us from the book of Mark, considered to be the most cryptic and fast paced of the five gospels. Here we have two parables, two seemingly innocuous stories about the things of ordinary everyday life that, like the reading from Ezekiel, keep us mindful of the mystery of God’s power in creation.
Listen to what emerges for you as Jesus describes how God’s vision for Shalom, God’s peaceable kingdom might look-where small and seemingly insignificant things like mustard seeds are transformed into something large, useful, and supportive, all in honour of God’s good Creation.

We begin with Mark 4, verses 16-29 The Parable of the Growing Seed
‘He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces the grain-first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
And then:
Verses 30-34 The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet, when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. With many parables Jesus spoke the Word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.”
This is God’s word for us this day.
Thanks be to God. Amen