The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.
Over the past few Sunday nights I’ve been greatly enjoying the latest series of Call the Midwife. The storylines never fail to draw me in. For the first few episodes, the oldest of the nuns – Sister Monica Joan – was suffering a prolonged loss of faith which left her questioning her whole purpose in life. Her crisis came to an end in the most unexpected of ways as she found herself, following the delivery of a baby, gazing at the placenta and marvelling at God’s creation and the wonders of new life. I was slightly incredulous: as quite a squeamish person, I’m sure that a placenta in a dish is the last thing that would move me to a deep spiritual encounter. The moment, however, was deeply moving and got me thinking about the unexpected and unusual places in which we sometimes encounter God.
This week at church we also heard a parable about God working through the unexpected. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed – tiny and insignificant, hardly something that would ever be identified as anything special, but ultimately growing into a great and flourishing tree, providing for the birds that nest in its branches and bringing life and nourishment to many.
There are many such stories in the Bible in which the small and insignificant are chosen over the great and the powerful or where God simply shows up in some weird and wonderful places –the ultimate climax of all this is Jesus’ crucifixion when a place of shame and torture becomes the place of transformation.
As the Easter season comes to an end at church, we enter a long season rather uninventively named ‘Ordinary Time’. But perhaps this season serves as a good reminder for us that the extraordinary is often to be found in the most ordinary of places, and that God is ready to encounter us even in the most unpromising and unexpected of places.
Whatever happens as we await government decisions and wonder how the future will unfold, I encourage you to be looking out for those signs of the divine in the world around you, in the mundane, the unlikely, the places you least expect it. Let’s be ready to really notice those moments, however small, when something causes us to stop and wonder, and to give thanks to God for his presence in and through all situations.
Perhaps over the coming weeks we can share those things which make us stop and wonder – I’d love to hear from you about the places where you have met God this month, however bizarre or mundane.
With every blessing