Sunday 21 February 2021


                     Mark 4 v 26-34

I would like you to turn with me to the 4th Chapter of Mark’s gospel beginning at verse 26.  Here we have one of two parables from today’s gospel reading. 

Whenever Jesus was giving a sermon He used a parable with a topical illustration and taught simply. He would use nature subjects such as birds, trees, flowers.  This first parable is all about growth. 

A farmer will sow seed and then go away and leave it to grow on its own, the secret of growth lying within the seed, which will develop under its own power.  The farmer will return to collect the harvest, when he will separate the good produce from the weeds. 

 Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like this.  The term ‘Kingdom of God’, is where God’s will is perfectly done.  Each parable does of course have a spiritual meaning.  Just as the farmer cannot make the seed grow, we cannot make the Kingdom of God grow on our own.  God has given us His Word, the Bible, and as we study and meditate on it we will then be able to play our part in making it grow.

We need to follow the farmer analogy as we consider Church growth.  We should first let the Word of God be preached and then allow time for it to root and grow. There is no point in trying to rush things.   

The Bible contains the very presence of Christ Himself There is something inside the Bible that when it is planted into a person’s heart, the interest in Christ begins to grow.   The Bible has a mysterious power.  That is why it is so essential that preachers should faithfully prepare and preach that Word. 

I have been able to listen to some wonderful preachers from across the world and it is uplifting to come from hearing them.  Sadly, I too often listen to preachers who waffle on about all manner of things, and seem to be preachers for their own glorification. 

Just as nature’s growth is so powerful, so is Gods’ Word to change lives.  This is why coming to Church is so important.   Most people have not recognised the treasure which is the Christian gospel. The vast majority of people have not got their priorities right.

People have great excuses not to come to church. They tell me that you do not have to go to church to be a Christian, but they are not at home on a Sunday morning doing bible study by themselves. They are not involved in serving God. They have chosen that other things are more important. Usually they have made a choice that other things, not spiritual things, are more important to them.
They make a choice for themselves, sadly they also make a choice for their families too. The choice has an effect which rebounds down the generations.

 When people stop attending church and op taking  children to church, they have effectively stopped their grandchildren and great grandchildren going to church as well. So that today we have several decades of people who have not had any contact with Christians teaching whatsoever, and that means no spiritual grounding in their lives at all. And that is where we are as a country, with people largely adrift in terms of a spiritual anchor to inform their ethical, moral and life decisions.

 A university chaplain was speaking and saying that the students he deals with have absolutely no Christian 

background whatsoever. They know nothing of the

 Bible or the Christian stories.

Each church has to play their part to encourage and welcome to church those who feel that it is not for them. Some of them might have a good reason to think we don’t want them. They might have had an unfortunate contact with a vicar or a churchgoer, who put them off and they thought, well if that is what being a Christians is like, I don’t want to know.
The second parable in verses in 30/34 where Jesus said the Kingdom of God was like a mustard seed.  His listeners would recognise this as a saying, ‘small as a mustard seed.’  That seed was so small that if it blew out of your hand you would not be able to find it. But it grew, Jesus said, to be a tree which housed the birds. 

A tree was used in Biblical terms to mean an empire, and birds to be nations which were part of that empire.  So Jesus was saying that there was no limit to which the Kingdom could grow reaching many nations. 

From that small band of Apostles working from part of a land no bigger than Wales, grew a religion which now embraces the world, with two billion followers.  We must never feel our efforts are too small to start working for the Lord.  Never be put off by small beginnings.  We start off small, but when the effort is repeated, the effect can be big.    

     This parable is speaking to us directly about the Church which began so small.  As Christianity spread across the world, without any radio, television, newspapers, or any of the aids we have, so it can do so again.

I have often said I am so fond of the American Church.  They use every advertising method available.  We have just been through an election and candidates have been delivering literature telling us all about their Party and all the wonderful things they can offer us. President Obama won a landslide election by regular communication by emails to great effect.  Churches could use such a method.

     I don’t think personal visits from Minsters or their representatives is effective these days, but certainly letting people know of the Church by letters, or when possible by e-mail, would be beneficial and indeed produce results.

   I have just written an article for another village magazine in which I stress the need for people to return to Church and be part of restoring Christian values which this country so badly needs.  Sometimes we need to be like the farmer plant a seed of faith into someone’s mind casually and let it develop. 

A Vicar told me how he was invited to preach at a village Church some distance from his own Church.  He said he felt demoralised after doing so, it all seemed so lifeless.  Some years later he passed through the same village and stopped at the village shop.  The keeper told him how the word he preached that night made him turn back to Church and become a devoted servant, who in turn brought others to know the Lord.. I still get letters from people up North who were in the Churches I served and it  makes everything so worthwhile and so satisfying in a humble way.

You may say you haven’t the talent. But that is just the point you don’t have to have much ability, you just allow God to use you.  He has given us much more than we could ever imagine  If God is all that we claim Him to be how can we limit His power.

     A teacher once wrote of a pupil in his class and said, this boy is no scholar and has failed twice in his grade.  He has a stubborn streak and is rebellious. He seems at times perverse in his ability to learn. He has not made the most of his opportunities and never will.  That man wrote great works of history and became our greatest Prime Minister of all time (Winston Churchill)

     Don’t be like the chairman of a PCC who opened the meeting with the prayer,’’ ‘almighty and omnipotent God, etc’, and then addressed the members with the words, the situation here is utterly hopeless.

      What you can do as a church might seem small. It may seem insignificant but of course the message of the parables which we have heard this morning is that it might seem small, you might not even notice the effect, but this is how the kingdom is grown.

     A village would seem normally to be an ideal setting to start a Church return, but realistically these days it is not practical in most cases.  A permanent Minister is vital so that there is consistent style of teaching, which so rarely happens.  In addition, the Minister needs to be someone ready and willing to evangelise.

     Mark is telling us God is at much work today as He ever was sowing by His Word into our hearts and lives and we must be ready to serve Him when the opportunity arises.



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