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Related Bible reading(s): Matthew 13.31-33,44-52

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Up-to-the-minute jumping-off points for sermons, linking the reading to the latest news and global issues

 

From humble beginnings

With patience and persistence things of significant Kingdom value can grow from tiny beginnings (Matthew 13:31-33).

Context

Good things can start with humble origins or small changes.

  • In the week that southern Europe was on fire due to excessive heat a report was published detailing how simple changes in diet can reduce levels of methane, a major contributor to global warming.
  • When Debbie Thrower recognised a lack in the provision of spiritual support for many older people, she decided to do something about it. In partnership with BRF, Debbie developed Anna Chaplaincy. What began as a solo appointment has now grown into a movement with dozens of Anna Chaplains now working across the UK.
  • Reputable charities can provide plenty of examples of how relatively small donations have gone on to produce significant and positive life-enhancing change. Christian Aid is just one such charity. Many others can tell similar stories.
  • From humble origins Anguilla-born British athlete, Zharnel Hughes, has stormed to prominence in 2023 breaking long-held British 100 and 200 metres records. In so doing he has used the opportunity of the ensuing publicity to openly share and celebrate his Christian faith.

 

Ideas for sermons or interactive talks

  • The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast tell of how the creative power of God can do things of great significance from apparently very humble origins. This thinking takes us right back to the book of beginnings (Genesis) and God creating life from formlessness and emptiness (Genesis 1:2).
  • One of the wonders of creation is how so much can be created from so little. Think of the vastness of the ever-expanding universe. Think of your body and the tiny genetic material from which it grew. On a less delightful note, in the week that the film Oppenheimer is released, think of the power released when an atom is split.
  • In the face of huge challenges, we often feel powerless and that change is not possible. A well-known story tells of how two people were walking on a beach on which hundreds of starfish had been stranded. One person bent down and threw a starfish back into the sea. ‘Why are you doing that?’ their companion asked, ‘you can’t possibly save them all’. ‘Maybe not’ said the first person, ‘but I can save that one and this one and this one’ as they continued to throw back one starfish at a time. Sometimes we need to do what we can do, however apparently small, and not worry about what we can’t do.
  • Pre Pentecost the small number of frightened followers of Jesus probably thought their Kingdom dreams had all disappeared with the ascended Jesus. But then the Spirit came and everything changed. Of this world’s resources and education, they didn’t have very much (Acts 3:6 and Acts 4:13) but having been with Jesus, and now empowered by the Spirit, they changed the world.

 

Questions for discussion

  • What stories of significant change from humble beginnings can you think of? They could be stories of people you know personally, Church stories or stories from business, sport, science or art.
  • You only need a small mustard seed (or acorn) to grow a tree. What resources do you have that might in God’s hands grow into something significant? And remember don’t worry about what you don’t have!
  • Is the mood in your Church pre or post Pentecost when it comes to possibilities? If the former, reflect on what makes the difference.
  • With wild fires raging what simple lifestyle changes could you make to reduce your personal carbon emissions and help to positively change the climate?

Andrew Roberts is a husband, father, Methodist Minister and the author of Holy Habits. He was once the lead model in Clergy on the Catwalk and won the Faster Pastor stock car race for members of the clergy.

 

Check-in

Connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people

What are you waiting for? The summer holidays can feel like a wonderful long stretch of endless days of joy and rest, or they can be filled with anticipation, or even fear, as days are counted down… to a long-awaited holiday, exam results day, university clearing or even the return to school. How we wait for those events, and how we deal with the fall out of those can reveal a great deal about who we are, as well as those events in and of themselves.

In today’s reading we discover how God’s Kingdom is held in the potential of the tiny, and how we often have to wait for his revelation. The reality is that for some of us, some of those things we wait for do not have the ‘happily ever after’ we had imagined - exam results that do not meet our hopes and dreams; or a holiday where the sunshine is replaced with endless rainy days. It is often in those moments where God reveals more of his kingdom than we could ever imagine if we just wait and trust in him.

Becky May is Founder of The Resources Cupboard

 

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