This week I had the honour of preaching at St Andrew’s Chapel at Uniting Theological College before my student and faculty colleagues. The anticipation was nerve-wracking, but the spirit was so warm and gracious, and ultimately it was a delight to share the message that I encountered in the readings: Romans 8:26-39 and Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.
While I am here, I would like to also say that I have missed writing in this space so much. I’ve been doing a lot of writing this year for study and paid+unpaid work, and my body+brain can’t handle very much screen-time. So something had to drop and sadly it was my blog.
However, as I look back on the last seven months, a huge weight presses upon me–bush fires due to climate change, COVID-19, systemic racism. It is too much for words. Perhaps that is also why I have not been here.
With this in mind, I am reminded of when I first preached in Aberdeen, and a friend said to me that that message of a sermon is usually most directed at the person doing the preaching. So I guess I need to listen to myself:
‘In the face of such pain and suffering, we are as small and ordinary as mustard seeds, hazelnuts, or grains of yeast. Our actions can seem ineffective or simply ridiculous, as though we were rearranging chairs on the Titanic. But with Paul, we put our mustard-seed-sized faith in the One who is bringing restoration and healing to the whole of creation. Our seemingly insignificant prayers and actions, as well as our faith itself, is laughter at the Devil.’
One of the best jobs I’ve ever had was at an inner-city community garden in the States. Of course, as you might imagine, one of the things I did a lot was plant seeds. In fact, one of the favourite vegetables in the neighbourhood I worked in was mustard greens—which are a cousin of the mustard tree in today’s parable. Year after year, a good portion of the garden was given over to this prolific leafy green. It is suffice to say, I have planted a lot of seeds, including mustard seeds, in my time.
Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that plants grow from dry seeds, and indeed that yeast can leaven a massive bowl of dough. Despite the fact I understand the science of these processes, that bread dough rises, and plants flourish remains for me a holy mystery.
One tiny seed buried in the ground. One speck of yeast hidden in a batch of dough. Given some time, the right conditions, and very little human intervention, a whole new living thing is brought into being. A whole new living thing that is itself generative and life-sustaining. The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Continue reading