Readings for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Mark 4:26-34
There are many kinds of work projects that have humble beginnings. The first step in erecting a large building is to study the site and soil to make sure they are suitable for construction. To the casual observer it may appear that nothing is being done. “Boy, they sure are slow. They’re not making any progress!” For me, the process of writing a sermon begins not with furious typing on the computer, but quietly mulling over a portion of Scripture. It doesn’t look like I’m doing much – sitting there and staring off into space – but that is often the place where the Holy Spirit gives me insight on what I should preach.
God’s work in the world is rarely a grandiose and awesome sight. A chance meeting, a simple act of kindness, a spontaneous conversation He can infuse with eternal significance. But if we’re always looking for the big and flashy, we’ll probably miss what God is up to. Jesus tells two parables in Sunday’s Gospel which admonish us not to grow frustrated when we don’t see immediate results in sharing God’s love. His Kingdom grows under His direction and control, not ours (Mk 4).
The Old Testament reading from Ezekiel makes a similar point in its promise of a Messiah. From a “tiny twig” – the humble child of Joseph and Mary – God revealed to us a mighty Savior and King who is the hope of the nations (Ezk 17).
Paul urges us in the Epistle reading to make pleasing God our highest aim in life. When our aim is to please others, we grow frustrated and burned out. When our aim is to please ourselves, we become self-centered and isolated. But the only One we’ll answer to in the end is God who has redeemed us from sin and death, and called us to serve the world with all that we are and have – spirit, mind and body (2Cor 5).