The Sermons of a Country Girl

Reflections on our walk in faith and our life in this amazing world

Monday, June 18, 2012

God's Own Country

Sermon June 17th 2012: Ezekiel 17: 22-24; Mark 4: 26-34

“Blessed are you Lord, God of all creation:
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.
Through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become our spiritual drink.”

As a girl those words were imprinted upon my subconscious; they are the introduction to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as used in the Roman Catholic tradition. They imprinted upon my heart and mind that everything we have, comes from God. Everything we eat, or drink, or read or use is as a result of God and humanity working together: through God’s goodness we have.... (dot dot dot)

And it was second nature to me; I worked with my Dad on the allotment; I have very fond memories of that time – raking, planting, watering, weeding (not so fond!) Now I fully admit my memory is likely rose-tinted. I suspect I moaned, and whined about having to go and help. I suspect I was not so thrilled at the prospect of working on the allotment as I remember it – I must remember to ask Dad if he remembers!!

But, what that time taught me; just as those words of liturgy taught me, is that it is all about cooperation.
Me and Dad
Us and God

We work to prepare the ground
We dig
And we turn it over
And we pull up the weeds and lift out the stones
And we feed it, stamp it, rake it, and prepare it
And we plant the seeds and put in the supports and then we wait.
We do our part and then we wait for nature, for God to do the rest.

The image that Ezekiel shares of the Sovereign Lord growing and planting still works now – millennia later.
He says, “All the trees in the land will know that I am the Lord” not just humanity – but the very trees themselves respond to God
We know, we absolutely know that God is at work in our gardens, and fields, and hills and woodland

How can all that beauty, symmetry, creativity and rich harvest just be an accident?
A collision of molecules that made it all happen by accident?!
Creation by design is far more likely than creation by accident

And Jesus knew that this simple view, this simple understanding was clear and familiar enough that anyone would be able to follow
What better way then, to describe the Kingdom of God, than by comparing it to the growth of a seed? 
I am sure most of you know the parable of the mustard seed. It is one of the stories used in Sunday School bible time in every generation. The tiny mustard seed, the image of the shrub, bush, tree sheltering the birds of the air

But I wonder how many of you will remember the one that precedes it? The man who scattered his seed, and then does nothing – the land, the soil works its magic while he carries on with his tasks of life.
He does not know how it happens
Neither still do we!
Yet we know it happens

As sure as night turns to day
Seed planted will yield its harvest

God’s Kingdom is like the seed
We hear God’s words – in scripture and in prayers, and in songs and hymns.
We hear God’s word preached and shared – and magically, mysteriously, the seed germinates and grows

The seeds of faith grow in us without us realising
Almost without us noticing
And suddenly there is a harvest – God’s word come to life for us
It may be a fast grower
Or a slow steady grower
It may yield fruit in a short while, or a whoel lifetime
But once planted, the seed is there
Once planted into God’s Own Country there will always be a harvest
The harvest of our hearts and souls
There may be seasons of drought
And seasons when crops fail, and the outlook seems bleak
But! And here’s the wondrous and amazing truth of God’s grace: the seed will wait for the right moment:
There is a story of an archaeological dig in an old monastery; as the lifted the rubble, and removed the turf something amazing happened – plants began to appear
There had been a herb garden there; long buried and forgotten for over 400 years.
Yet, once disturbed, once light was given the seeds, dormant all those centuries remembered
And in remembering they came back to life!!

God’s word his seed is in our hearts
If you feel barren, or empty, let in a little light
And let the seeds grow!
Our hearts our God’s own country
His word the seed
Our lives his season
And we are blessed

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