16th June 2024 10.30am – 3rd Sunday after Trinity – Eucharist

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The Readings

2 Corinthians 5.6-13

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.


Mark 4.26-34

He also said, ‘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.



Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By David, Reader at St Mary's.

How would each of us complete the sentence “The Kingdom of God is like…”?

Many years ago, as a student, I was on a Christian retreat weekend in the peak district. A group of us were out walking and were stopped by a couple of street evangelists from a non-mainstream denomination. They had literature they wanted to share with us which showed what the Kingdom of God was apparently to be like.

It was a rather quaint, rural scene. There were lots of different animals, none of them eating each other. There was a nice blue sky, green grass, trees and flowers and humans, all nicely paired off, were walking about. This was their way of completing the sentence “The Kingdom of God is like…”.

In the Bible we don’t find just one way to complete this sentence.

Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, throughout the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. He uses parables, or stories, to convey some understanding of the Kingdom. Some of these parables appear in all three of these gospels, others only in one or two.

Some of the parables Jesus gives start as follows “The Kingdom of God is like yeast”, or “a fine pearl”, or a fishing “dragnet” or, in our Gospel today, “a mustard seed”. At first glance quite a collection of random items, with no real connection. Yet, each gives us a glimpse into one facet or aspect of the Kingdom of God.

A pearl was worth a lot of money, for God’s Kingdom is beyond price. A dragnet catches as many fish as possible, both those good for eating and those which aren’t edible, those which are of the Kingdom and those which are not. The fishermen then separate them out. Yeast is essential for making bread rise, giving growth.

But what about the mustard seed?

A black mustard seed is tiny, maybe one millimetre across but grows into a plant almost three metres tall. It wasn’t grown in gardens in Jesus’ time, but out in the fields and was often considered to be weed, yet used in cooking across different cultures. It seems an odd choice for describing the Kingdom.

In a way, that’s part of the point. We can never get a full view of God’s Kingdom. It defies human understanding. It’s why Jesus uses parables to teach people. Yet each parable gives some insight into the nature of the Kingdom.
So, the mustard seed. What can it teach us about God’s Kingdom?

Sometimes the Kingdom can appear very small, or very far away. Life can be hard, and the cares of the world can overwhelm us. Yet the Kingdom is still there. There is the possibility of it growing, beyond expectations or predictions, from a small seed to a massive plant.

We carry this seed of the Kingdom within us. It was planted by others, maybe our parents or Godparents. Sometimes it lies sleeping for a while, other times it sprouts and grows. When it is time, we are called to plant new seeds spreading the Kingdom to others.

Which can seem like quite a daunting task.

What do we know about growing seeds of the Kingdom? Especially in others?

Jesus’ other statement about the Kingdom of God in our Gospel this morning is helpful here. “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, they do not know how.”

We aren’t called to grow the seeds into plants; this is beyond our control. We cannot force God’s Kingdom into a particular shape or size. The Kingdom is a mustard plant, weedlike and vigorous. We aren’t trimming a hedge of topiary into a shape that suits us. The Kingdom isn’t subject to our will, but God’s.

Yet we can plant seeds. But how?

Part of the reason the Kingdom defies definition by words is that it isn’t ultimately a Kingdom of words. It’s not a Kingdom of philosophy or rhetoric, creeds or catechism. All these can give us glimpses, can point us to the Kingdom, but they can never fully describe or contain it.

God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of action. God’s Kingdom is one of love and joy, justice and mercy, peace and compassion, kindness and gentleness. These are the fruits of the Spirit.

We plant seeds in others through our interactions with them. We sow seeds in their lives through love, acts of kindness and compassion, making peace and sharing in joyful celebration.

In this way are the seeds of Kingdom spread far and wide. Amen.


The Prayers
Prepared by Catherine.

We pray for the worldwide church. We remember all who are being ordained
deacon or priest this month asking for God’s blessing as they begin their
ordained ministry. We remember those known to some of us – Lizzie and
Claire – shortly to be ordained deacon. We pray too for evangelists and
missionaries and all who work to spread the Good news of God’s kingdom.
And we pray for our own role in scattering the seeds of the Gospel in our daily
lives, and for the often unseen fruit that this bears.
Jesus, Lord of your Church,
in your mercy hear us.

We pray for the world. We remember all places holding elections this year. We
pray that those recently elected to the European parliament and in India may
work wisely to enable equity, peace and harmony. We pray for the upcoming
elections here and in France, that campaigning be robust but respectful, and
that policies reflect the needs of the wider society.
We continue to remember places where there is conflict – thinking especially of
the people of Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza. We pray for an end to violence and
suffering, and think of all those who have lost lives, loved ones or limbs as a
result of war.
Jesus, Lord of your Church,
in your mercy hear us.

We pray for our city and local area. We give thanks for those who work night
shifts whilst most of us sleep. We remember cleaners, road repairers,
infrastructure engineers and carers whose essential work often goes unnoticed.
We pray for all those planting seeds of community and togetherness as part of
the upcoming Walkley Festival.
Jesus, Lord of your Church,
in your mercy hear us.

We pray for all who are unwell at this time. We remember those suffering from
long Covid and other chronic conditions. We give thanks for all who work in
science and medicine and for the seeds of hope sown by their increasing
understanding of diseases and discovering possible new treatments.
We think of anyone known to us who is in particular need this week...
Jesus, Lord of your Church,
in your mercy hear us.

We remember those who are now away from their earthly bodies and at home
with the Lord. We give thanks for the life of Michael Mosley and for the seeds
of simple ways to boost good health and well-being he sowed in his TV
programmes and podcasts. We pray especially for his family and friends at this
And we remember those known to us who have died, thanking God for their
lives, and asking for comfort for all who mourn.
Jesus, Lord of your Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Merciful Father
Accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
Jesus Christ,


Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is used here is copyright (c) 2010 The Archbishops' Council