‘Be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things.’ These are words taken from the last sermon of St David, patron saint of Wales. Indeed, ‘do the little things’ remains a maxim in Wales to this day.
Throughout the pandemic, ‘doing the little things’ has made a huge difference: phoning a friend, checking on a neighbour, picking up a prescription or some shopping. We have learnt afresh that ‘the little things’ are in fact the building blocks of community: a smile, a chat and now even a hug and a cup of tea or pint of beer face to face rather than shared over the Zoom screen.
I had no idea exactly how small a mustard seed actually is until we tried to distribute one to each child from Hempsted School in a service in St Swithun’s! They really are absolutely tiny and we had mustard seeds dropping everywhere which caused a lot of hilarity and joy. As I write, I realise how much I long to welcome the school back to church and to sing and pray together. I hope that I’ll never take such a ‘little thing’ for granted again.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking in parables. Originally the word ‘parable’ in Greek, ‘parabole’ is simply a comparison. That is clear in this passage: the kingdom is like this, the kingdom is like that. Here we find Jesus speaking about the work of God in terms of the natural order. It’s almost as if he is saying that if we want to understand something about the work of God, we just need to look at the clues that surround us.
In his book, Meeting God in Mark, Archbishop Rowan Williams reminds us that characteristically God does not act in great and mighty acts, rather ‘subtly, slowly, from the very depth of being.’ God ‘works outwards from the heart of being into the life of every day – not inwards from some distant heaven.’ God does not unfurl a banner in the sky, rather transforms the world through the life of Jesus and then through the lives of those who follow Jesus. In short God works in and through ‘the little things’ of our lives if we allow our lives to be places where the work of God can blossom and grow.
It is our task ‘to be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things.’ Therein will the work of God be found. What ‘little thing’ might you do in faith today?
Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector