Hymn - "God Whose Giving Knows No Ending"
This week's readings can be found here Mark 4.26-34
An encouraging environment for the miracle of growth
Today, 11th June, the church’s calendar commemorates St. Barnabas, otherwise known as the apostle to Cyprus and as the encourager. In the latter capacity he is one of my favourite saints. Maybe I am naturally a bit of a pessimist; maybe lawyers are trained to anticipate what happens when things go wrong. Whatever the reason, I need people who give me encouragement and am very grateful to all those who by word, deed, lifestyle or temperament have been there to provide it at the right moment. Jesus’ two parables in Mark chapter 4 about the kingdom of God should be encouraging, not just to gardeners and farmers, but to all of us who pray “Thy Kingdom come” on a regular basis, or who have engaged with the diocesan strapline “Growing in God”. As anyone who has tried to help their child, their livestock, their vegetables or flowers to grow, our well-meaning efforts often seem like unhelpful interference rather than positive encouragement. The parables tell us, I think, that the kingdom of God doesn’t grow because of our targets, mission statements, action plans and other strategies, particularly if we have invented them because of “a managerial performance culture concerned with religious product delivery” (I sincerely hope the Carlford benefice will never have that). God’s kingdom grows because it is what God wants and because this is how He made His world; it is not our doing. That should be a great encouragement at many levels. Anyone who has watched the amazing transformation of fields, woods and gardens over the last month will know how good it makes us feel. Looking back at my own Christian life and that of our churches in the benefice over the last year, I see growth that was unplanned and unexpected, for which I give thanks. As the G7 leaders sit down together in Cornwall, I see encouraging signs of cooperation and commitment in tackling climate change, the pandemic, poverty and injustice on a global scale. The role of parents, gardeners and farmers is to create the right environment in which children, flowers, crops and livestock may grow and flourish. Our role as Christians is to create the right environment in our personal lives, in our church and in our world where the kingdom of God grows in the abundant and all-embracing way that God intends. It is the role of the encourager. In following the example of Barnabas (inter alia, he sold a field and gave the proceeds to the church, supported Paul in his missionary journeys, and helped the early Christian church in Cyprus), today’s prayer ask that we be generous in our judgements and unselfish in our service – a good start for me, you and the G7 leaders. Best metaphor for the Trinity I was disappointed by the small number of entries to my competition, but the good news for those who did enter is that they are all joint winners. Reflect on the following: A tree – roots, trunk and branches; Fred – father, husband, priest; An egg – yolk, white and shell; Water - ice, liquid and steam; Three overlapping circles, equal in size but different in colour – appearing sometimes as one, two or three. Thank you winners, your prizes will follow. James Hall
From a Country Overlooked
There are no creatures you cannot love. A frog calling at God From the moon-filled ditch As you stand on the country road in the June night. The sound is enough to make the stars weep With happiness. In the morning the landscape green Is lifted off the ground by the scent of grass. The day is carried across its hours Without any effort by the shining insects That are living their secret lives. The space between the prairie horizons Makes us ache with its beauty. Cottonwood leaves click in an ancient tongue To the farthest cold dark in the universe. The cottonwood also talks to you Of breeze and speckled sunlight. You are at home in these great empty places along with red-wing blackbirds and sloughs. You are comfortable in this spot so full of grace and being that it sparkles like jewels spilled on water.
To Pray for
The new member of the Royal Family as Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor has been born.
For those who have are living with rare chromosome and gene disorders and facing daily struggles.
Our beautiful countryside which is giving us so much now that everything is beginning to bloom.