O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of all mercy,
your Son proclaimed good news to the poor,
release to the captives,
and freedom to the oppressed:
anoint us with your Holy Spirit
and set all your people free
to praise you in Christ our Lord.
Psalm 37.3-6, 40-41
Trust in the Lord and be doing good;
dwell in the land and be nourished with truth.
Let your delight be in the Lord
and he will give you your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him,
and he will bring it to pass.
He will make your righteousness as clear as the light
and your just dealing as the noonday.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord shall stand by them and deliver them;
he shall deliver them from the wicked and shall save them,
because they have put their trust in him.
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.
Jesus said to the twelve and those around him, ‘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.’
He 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.
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.
Do you remember your school days? What is it that you remember about them? Do you remember the men and women who taught you? What is it that you remember about those teachers?
Most people have great respect for the teaching profession. Many times I have heard people say something like: I don’t know how teachers do it … I wouldn’t have the patience. That word ‘patience’ is, of course, important, but it is also only part of the story. The bigger issue for those who are entering the teaching profession revolves around their ability to communicate at an appropriate level.
School children, like adults, know when they are being patronised, when someone is not showing them the respect they are due as a fellow human being. In earlier days, the world of education focused more on students sitting in silence and listening to the wisdom of their ‘elders and betters’. Over time, educationalists have found that engagement and mutual respect are far more effective in the classroom than the blind acceptance of authority.
This diversion into the world of education connects very closely to today’s reading. Yet again Jesus talks about the scattering of seed. He speaks of seed sprouting and growing, of its ripening to the point of being harvested for the nourishment of others. This is a mighty ambition for any small immature seed, that it might one day provide that which is life sustaining for many.
Jesus then goes on to speak of the mustard seed. I have a mustard seed in a phial in my study. It was given to me on my last day at theological college, just days before I was ordained. Until I was given that tiny wondrous seed I had had no idea of how small a mustard seed really is. Suddenly Jesus’ talk of the greatest of shrubs growing from the smallest of seeds made sense. Suddenly, I realized the responsibility that has been laid on the shoulders of all who profess a faith in Jesus Christ.
We are not all called to be teachers in the conventional sense. We are not all called to stand in classrooms and share specific areas of expertise with others. But … we are all called to teach. We are all called to teach in the sense of sharing that which we have learned and which excites us. We are called to nurture the interest of others in order that it might grow into a great passion. We are called to tell the story of Jesus to all whom we meet, and to tell it in a way that will help it to take root and to flourish. We are called to sow those tiny seeds of faith, whether we consider ourselves to be teachers or not, and then to nurture those seeds into the greatest of plants which will, of course, in their turn, spread their seeds to others.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray that the will of God shall be fulfilled in the Church and in the world.
Strengthen the Church to nourish and to spread the good seed of your word entrusted to her care. Bless your ministers as they work for the coming of the Kingdom. Use them and enable them, so that the harvest may be abundant.
Bring your grace to work silently in the hidden places of the world, to bring to fruition the good that is as yet unknown. May your Kingdom come not only through those who have authority but through all the humble and unregarded who seek to live in love and peace.
Come to us in the little things, in the daily round of home and work, in the passing encounters with those we may not see again. Bless this community, to be a refuge for the afflicted and a shelter for those in need.
Comfort all who despair because their labour seems to be in vain. Give them hope and the strength to persevere until your will for them is completed. Bring healing to the sick, peace to the troubled, and comfort to the bereaved.
We remember before you all those whose lives have grown through this world until the end. Grant them new life, fulfilling beyond all earthly understanding the promises in which they trusted and the joy that they have known.
We pray in the name of Christ who brings all things to fruition.
Prayer for the week
By the prayers of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to pray.
By the gifts of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to give.
By the labours of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to work.
By the love of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to love.
By the cross of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to live.
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.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Inflame our souls with love,
transforming every heart and home
with wisdom from above.
O let us not despise
the humble path Christ trod,
but choose, to shame the worldly-wise,
the foolishness of God.
Give us the tongues to speak,
in every time and place,
to rich and poor, to strong and weak,
the word of love and grace.
Enable us to hear
the words that others bring,
interpreting with open ear
the special song they sing.
Michael Forster (b. 1946)