O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
teach us to be faithful
in change and uncertainty,
that trusting in your word
and obeying your will
we may enter the unfailing joy
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed are all those who fear the Lord,
and walk in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the toil of your hands;
it shall go well with you, and happy shall you be.
Your wife within your house shall be like a fruitful vine;
your children round your table, like fresh olive branches.
Thus shall the one be blest who fears the Lord.
The Lord from out of Zion bless you,
that you may see Jerusalem in prosperity all the days of your life.
May you see your children’s children,
and may there be peace upon Israel.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 13.18-21
Jesus said to the crowd, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’
And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
What is the kingdom of God like?
This may not be a question that is uppermost in the minds of the majority, but many people do seem to have some sort of rudimentary answer to this question. When I am speaking to those who have lost a loved one, I often hear talk of that loved one ‘looking down from heaven’ and ‘smiling in approval’ at something that has been said or done. Those who say such things may not consider themselves to be answering Jesus’ question, but how else can you interpret their words? They have created for themselves an image of a place where those who have died now rest in peace and contentment, no matter what befell them in their earthly lives.
What is the kingdom of God like? Jesus asked. This is, of course, a very big question. It is such a big question that no one is capable of providing an accurate, or even meaningful, answer. Everything to do with God is, by definition, beyond our comprehension and our vocabulary. ‘God’ may be a small word, but those three letters are used to describe the utterly indescribable.
Jesus, of course, knew that the crowd would not be able to answer his question, but he found a way to give us a clue. He chose two recognizable things that have similar properties: a mustard seed and yeast. Both of these things have something in common. Despite their smallness and lack of presence, they share the characteristic of growing way beyond what might be expected. Indeed, they grow, and grow, and grow far beyond the scope of our human imaginations.
God is also far beyond our human imaginations. No matter how inventive and clever we may be we never come anywhere near describing what the kingdom of God is like. So why does Jesus ask an unanswerable question? Jesus wants us to continue striving towards God. Jesus wants us to keep catching glimpses of the kingdom of God as we journey in this world. Jesus wants us to learn that God is as present in this world as he is in the world to come.
Let us pray that our senses, our hearts and our minds might be opened in order that we might join those who catch those tiny glimpses of God’s kingdom in this world, and then rejoice with them.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to God, by whose grace we are members of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Called to your service, may we and the whole Church be faithful in all things. Grant that we shall be good stewards of the great treasure entrusted to us.
Reveal the true treasure of your word to those whose eyes are closed by the cares of this world. Plant the seed that shall grow up into a better life for all.
Make us conquerors through Christ of all that would harm our living together with others. May our whole community grow towards your Kingdom.
Give to those who suffer the assurance that they are not forgotten, never separated from the love of Christ. May his sufferings for humanity relieve their troubles.
When the time of judgement is fulfilled, look with mercy on the souls of the departed. By the merits of Christ, let them not be lost in that day.
Trusting in the mercy of God, the Judge of all, we submit our prayers in the name of Christ.
Prayer for the week
We thank you, Lord,
for calling us to be your witnesses:
grant us the courage and the love
to be obedient and faithful to that calling.
We pray that our lives may bear witness
to your love shown in Jesus Christ,
and that our witness may reflect your light
in the communities in which we live and work,
to the glory of your name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
The kingdom of God is justice and joy,
for Jesus restores what sin would destroy;
God’s power and glory in Jesus we know,
and here and hereafter the kingdom shall grow.
Bryn Rees (1911–1983)