>

The Mustard Seed and The Leaven Bread


A lot of what Jesus taught is focussed on the Kingdom of God - on what it is like.
The same subject is addressed in the parables of the Hidden treasure and the Pearl of Great Price.
The Kingdom is obviously a tricky subject !
Here we see the image of God sowing the seed and it grows and grows,
or the image of leaven in bread which spreads throughout the mix until the whole bowl is affected.

As in the parable of the The Growing Seed, God has initiated something with which he is not fully in control.
It proceeds under its own steam - growing or spreading depending on which you prefer
(perhaps perfume in a room might be a similar idea, or even the presence of a dead rat).
God does not force membership of His kingdom, but waits patiently
for the seed to ripen,
the dough to rise,
the tree to grow.
It is a process of evolution - and we are part of it.

Somewhere in the distant past the mustard seed was sown,
sometime in the distant future the tree will have fulfilled its potential.
Somewhere in the middle is now.
So we have grown from mind-less survival instincts, through group loyalty, to some form of morality.
Yet people still fight and struggle for power. In places barbarism still reigns.
The cult of the individual still dominates society and, largely, the churches.
Is it not the very focus of the Gospel narrative that many preach today?

We have long way to go, but we can look at the teaching of Jesus and recognise the shadow of our destination.
Maybe in the teaching of the Beatitudes. Maybe in a life of inclusive forgiving embracing love. Maybe in justice for all.
Not the justice of the law court, as envisaged by medieval theologians and carried into our churches today,
but the justice that ensures even distribution to all of the world's resources.
The practical outcome of loving our neighbours as much as ourselves.

There will come a time when the hungry will be fed, the weak cared for, and the sick healed,
and love will rule throughout the completed project that we call humanity,
so long as it survives physically until that time.

Two great problems threaten God's plan, threaten the survival of the human race:
the ability of man to destroy his environment with atomic or chemical weapons.
The ability of man to destroy his humanity through genetic mutation or medical fiddling.
Either could end the great experiment.

Either could tip that mixing bowl onto the floor or bring the embryo tree crashing to the ground.
Yet there is hope and God still guides us with silken voices along the route to glory.
We may not be on the main highway, but we are still travelling,
and the evidence of history does show that we are, as a race,
very gradually over the millennia, travelling in the right direction.

Despite roadworks and diversion signs, rest places and some very steep hills, we are making progress
- but I do wonder whether many of us are not using the wrong map.
Jesus knew the way, but are we following?
Do we understand the map that he drew?