Sunday 17th June 2018
4th Sunday after Pentecost

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13; Psalm 20; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 4:26-34

(Alternatives: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:1-4, 11-14)

There is a very strong message in today’s readings of new beginnings and new possibilities. Those who have used the Samuel reading on the previous Sunday might note that the prophet, initially opposed to a monarchy, has now embraced the change and is “grieving” for a king who has lost his way. God calls him to anoint a new King. The prophet Ezekiel speaks from a very different place in Israel’s history, but using poetic language of new shoots and saplings, explores a similar theme, anticipating an era of change.

This could provide opportunity to reflect on contemporary examples of companies who have adapted to new technologies and developed their products or production techniques accordingly - there might be people from the world of business and industry who could share first-hand experiences of this. A congregation might also reflect on some of the new companies that have grown up and become established by embracing or offering new opportunities and experiences, or indeed those who have failed to adapt and gone under.

There is opportunity here to pray for those who are facing change at work, some perhaps struggling to cope with difficult decisions and expectations. Focussing more specifically on the story of David, there is scope to pray for those involved in recruitment; those looking for or anticipating new jobs, or indeed those faced with broader decisions that might seek the wisdom of a God who “does not look only on the outside”.

The Gospel reading has a clear workplace theme; like many parables of Jesus, these two stories are rooted in the working lives of the people around Him. There is an obvious application that no matter how hard we work and toil, we are ultimately reliant on the God who is creator and sustainer of all things.

At times as a Gospel community, we might feel quite overwhelmed by the world of work and commerce, where often large companies and corporations are depicted as being beyond influence and wielding unassailable power. The story of the mustard seed is a story of hope in such circumstances. People of faith may wonder what impact they have within the world; we can easily believe that our acts of righteousness are hidden and unnoticed, yet never imagine or know how they will take root and grow. This is an encouragement to live and act in faith rather than by obvious results, in every aspect of our daily lives.