Genesis 29:15-28 – Psalm 128 – Romans 8:26-39 – Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Homily for Morning Prayer, July 26, 2020 (Pat Vine)
Jesus is a great storyteller. He speaks in a language that ordinary people, like you and me, can understand.
Today Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven.
He likens the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed that someone takes and sows in his field. When it is grown, it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
In the prayer that Jesus taught us, we pray that Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So from this we can surmise that God’s will is in process of being done on earth as it is in heaven.
At this time in our lives, how can we be part of bringing the kingdom of heaven here, to this our earthly home, for enabling God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? If we imagine ourselves as the mustard seed, we can see that it is up to us to plant ourselves in a position in a place where we are able to grow in our relationship with God. In the case of a mustard seed, it needs to be sown in good soil. It is up to us to water that seed so it begins to grow and eventually widens our expanse, like the tree that the seed grows into, so that others can rest and feel at home in our branches. Being homebound offers us a unique opportunity to grow as a mustard seed, to be nearer to God, enjoy His presence, and grow into the space where others can receive God’s grace through us.
Some of you may know that in the past I have taken several week-long silent retreats. They have been times of meeting God in surprising ways and of experiencing inner shifts, healing and movements of growth.
In this time of being homebound, I find myself once again desiring to enter into solitude and silence in my relationship with God. To have a silent retreat, if you will. In solitude God begins to free us from our bondage to human expectations, for there we experience God as our ultimate reality—the One in whom we live and move and have our being.
And silence deepens the experience of solitude. It is in silence that we habitually release our own agendas and our need to control and become more willing and able to give ourselves to God’s loving initiative. In silence we create space for God’s activity rather than filling every minute with our own.
And we don’t have to worry about getting this right. It’s not about success or failure. It’s about showing up and letting God do the rest. Jesus encourages us to go into our inner room—our inner selves to be with God. Solitude and silence are not ends in themselves; they are merely a means through which we regularly make ourselves available to God for the intimacy of relationship and for the work of transformation that only God can accomplish.
Is God inviting you to come closer, to be more intimate with him? If so, how do we enter into solitude and silence? I won’t tell you that it’s easy—it can be very challenging at first. I suggest you create a space in your home where you can sit quietly. Perhaps lighting a candle will help create sacred space. Bring a timer with you and begin small. Set it for five minutes. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, place your hands in an open position on your lap, and wait on God. This is a time for the prayer of silence. Perhaps nothing noticeable may happen. That’s perfectly normal. Don’t give up. Even if nothing seems to happen, do it again tomorrow and again the next day. Make it part of your daily spiritual practice. Eventually increase the time you spend with God to 10, 15, even 20 minutes a day. You’ll find the time just whizzes by. It helps to keep a journal and record whatever thoughts or images may come your way during this sacred time. Then you can look back in your journal and see God’s faithfulness.
Draw near to God and God will draw near to you. God knows you intimately and is aware of everything that is happening in your life. God loves you, lives in you, and wants to encourage and lift you up while providing for your every need.
Perhaps you are feeling down, discouraged or depressed at this time of change and loss. These feelings could cause you to fear that you have been abandoned by God. The truth is that you belong to God, God is near, and speaks these words of encouragement to you, his dearest child: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or depression, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or pandemic or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor pandemic, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This passage reaffirms God’s profound love for God’s people. No matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, no matter what we’re feeling, we can never be lost to his love.