‘The parable of the growing seed’ – 13th June 2021 – 2nd Sunday after Trinity

The Order of Service

The order of service as a word document:

21 06 13 Climate Sunday - 2nd Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

The order of service as a pdf:

21 06 13 Climate Sunday - 2nd Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

Please note that there will be no livestream of this Sunday's service. 

The Readings

Ezekiel 17.22-end

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 produce boughs and 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 bring low the high tree,
I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree
and make the dry tree flourish.
I the Lord have spoken;
I will accomplish it.


Mark 4.26-34

Jesus 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 Joe P, a Reader at St Marys. 

May I speak in the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Earlier this US Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert asked the following question during a congressional hearing:

"I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they've found that the moon's orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth's orbit around the sun. We know there's been significant solar flare activity, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management can do to change the course of the moon's orbit or the Earth's orbit around the sun? Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate."

In other words, he seems to believe that we might be able to fix the damage that we have done to the climate via technology.

Unfortunately for the Congressman, it doesn’t work like that. Complex technical fixes and interventions are often popular because they offer a way of fixing things that often doesn’t involve changes to our lifestyles. But Creation has it’s own rules, that we often don’t fully understand, and, as Richard Feynman said ‘Nature cannot be fooled.’

And we are creatures of God’s Creation, and as such, we work within those rules – even when we are bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Today’s readings both emphasise the very organic nature of bringing the Kingdom of God in to being. After all, an omnipotent God could choose to bring about His Kingdom in an instant, but the theme that keeps recurring through scripture – not just in today’s readings – is the sense of the Kingdom of God being cultivated into being, grown with time and love, not just zapped in to existence.

Both Old and New Testament writings draw heavily on agricultural metaphors. We are told be stewards of creation; we are reminded that there are appropriate times for sowing and reaping. Jesus’s parables are particularly rich in terms of these stories – He teaches using images and ideas that would be meaningful to His audience.

This morning I want to focus on the first part of our Gospel reading – 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 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.”

This parable occurs just after the ‘Parable of the Sower’, in which we hear the story of the man sowing seeds on to different types of soil – some good soil, some thorny, some rocky. Jesus explains that parable by telling the disciples that the seed represents the Gospel, the sower represents anyone who proclaims it, and the various soils represent people's responses to it.

This parable is about the growth of the Kingdom of God; it’s therefore clear that it’s related to the ‘Parable of the Sower’, but puts a different emphasis on it. It’s a parable that is only to be found in the Gospel according to Mark, and there are a number of interpretations around it. Although it seems to be related to the Parable of the Sower, it doesn’t immediately follow it; the parable of hiding your light under a bushel separates the two.

Some commentators say that the sower referred to is Jesus himself, based mainly on the interpretation that if the sowing of the seed represents the seeding and growth of faith, then the person reaping the ripened grain of faith at the end can only be the Lord.
I’m not sure about this; I like to think that this parable is a lot more general in it’s application.

So, what do we have.

We have a sower – someone spreading seed, who after spreading the seed in what is clearly fertile soil, then leaves the seed to it’s own devices in the natural scheme of things. He doesn’t know HOW the seed grows; he just gets on with the rest of his life whilst this minor miracle of creation unfolds beneath the soil, eventually resulting the plants growing and achieving maturity in their own time.
We have the seed; this can be seen to be the word of the Gospel leading to the Kingdom of God.

We have the soil itself; it’s good soil, receptive soil, soil that is allowing growth. I like to think of this as the good soil described in the Parable of the Sower. This soil can be seen as the heart, mind and soul of someone who is at least somewhat receptive to the Word of the Gospel, and hence is open to having the Kingdom of God start to grow within them.

Even when the sower is sleeping or dealing with the rest of their lives the seed starts to grow; the Kingdom of God is growing, at a rate and by a means set by God, not man.

The writer George Knight has suggested that this parable:

“serves as a "correction provided for any ancient or modern disciples who might be feeling discouraged with the amount of fruitless labour they had extended toward those" who failed to hear the message of which the parable of the Sower spoke.”

In other words, the Parable might be a means of telling the disciples that whilst they may teach the Gospel, and spread the seed of the Kingdom of God in the hearts and minds of people, the growth of that seed is still in God’s hands, not theirs.

Perhaps a useful reminder to us Readers who are often said to be in the ‘Preaching and Teaching’ ministry. And it’s a valuable reminder about Evangelism in it’s broadest terms; we may put the Word of God before people, but how and when faith emerges is not in our hands.

The Apostle Paul felt this as well.

Look what he has to say about the Church in Corinth, when he writes in the first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 3 verse 6:

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

The growth of the Kingdom of God in Corinth is God’s work; Paul and Apollos were just workers in the field.

The seeds of my own faith were initially sown by my Aunty Harriet when I was a child. It’s safe to say that the seed lay for a while – about forty years – before God prodded it to life. Aunty Harriet died back in 1983; she didn’t see how the seeding the Kingdom of God within me would unfold. And we still don’t know what God has in store for me – or for any of us.

But remember the sower; you never know how and when the seeds YOU cast to others in your life will be contributing to the growth of the Kingdom.

Have faith that God will work on those seeds in His time, to His plan, and for His greater glory.

The Prayers
Prepared by Veronica. 

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we bring before you the needs of the world, in particular those countries where people are in greatest need due to war, illness and oppression. Give wisdom to the leaders of the world’s richest nations, currently meeting in Cornwall, to make decisions which will address these problems and share resources to help our fellow human beings, all of whom are your children.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the Church worldwide, that it may be a force for good. We pray for church leaders of all denominations that they may always seek to spread the teachings of Christ that we should seek to serve You by serving our neighbours, most particularly those in need. We pray for our Archbishops, our diocesan Bishops Pete and Sophie, and all working in parishes to witness to your word. Especially we pray for members of this church and St Mark’s and St John’s as we work together in partnership in this part of Sheffield.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for our community of Walkley, and all the people working to revive our shops and businesses after the difficult times over the last year and a half. We thank you for all who work to build up our sense of community, at the library, keeping our green open spaces and gardens beautiful, and so making this a welcoming place for newcomers.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer. 

We pray for all who are unwell at this time, who are stressed because of economic insecurity, who are awaiting overdue treatment because of the pressures on the NHS due to corona virus, and those people who are beginning to become infected again. We ask you to be with them and all the medical   and nursing staff and care workers, as they try to deal with the pressures of the last year and longer. May they all know your healing grace. In a moment of quiet we pray for those known to us….
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We remember before you all who are approaching the end of their earthly life, and those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ. We remember by name those we loved and see no more………
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Mary, St Mark and St John and all your saints, we commend ourselves and all creation to your unfailing love.

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