Sunday, 17 June 2012

Planting the Kingdom of Heaven

I attended Quaker meeting today, it was the first time I've been for a while as we've been rather busy recently. I am not sure I have yet got the hang of what I am supposed to do in a meeting. The general idea, I think, is that you "wait on God" and then, if inspired, you "minister" to others by verbalising your thoughts/ inspirations. I have to admit that I  have never uttered a word during the meeting - although I do have some lovely conversations with people afterwards! I sometimes take a prayer list with me, or a reading, or I reflect on the  lectionary reading for that Sunday.
This Sunday I was mulling over  the reading (Mark 4: 26-34) which was about the Kingdom of God being like growing seed and like a mustard seed. I was thinking about the words, "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." As I was thinking about this, someone spoke about Quaker faith being about action and relationships. They said that the way that they were motivated to act in the world was as a result of the time  in meetings spent looking within and finding God. That image of God is then transferred to dealing with the others and with the world.
     I thought about how the action of a seed could be seen as both hidden and visible. Much of the early work of the seed is unseen; it swells and it germinates, it puts down roots into the soil  and it begins to establish itself long before a shoot is seen. It cannot grow without putting down a system of roots. In the same way our faith should be both hidden and internal (the workings of God within) and visible and tangible (the way our faith translates into deeds and actions.) But our actions are also the seeds. We may think that some of the things we do and say mean nothing, but the message of the mustard seed suggests that great things can come from tiny beginnings.
In the Unitarian chapel where we meet there is a board with the Lord's Prayer on it. I was also looking at this board and the words about "Thy Kingdom come" and thinking about how the grain of corn, a source of nourishment, and the mustard tree, a source of shade and shelter, are images of things which are benevolent and meet our basic needs. The institutions of religion have not always nourished and sheltered the human spirit, they have not always brought about the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God a lot. I think we are supposed to spend a lot of our time really thinking about the Kingdom of God,  puzzling out what it actually is and how it works,how close we are to it and how we can be the means to bring it about on earth as well as in Heaven.

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