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FIRST READING

1 Samuel 15:34 - 16:13
Once again we have witnessed the acting out off a theme that appears again and again in scripture. God’s way is not necessarily our human way. God's selections are not always ours. God's criteria is not always ours. People will seek a Messiah who is a warrior king. God chooses a child who will later die on a cross. Builders will reject a particular stone. God will make it a cornerstone for what God wants to build. Rome will have imperial legions. God will have small groups in the back streets of Mediterranean cities. The legions will pass but the groups will flourish and become a great faith. As a great poet and prophet will say to us of God - My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts. Samuel learned it on that long ago occasion. We learn it very often. 

THE PSALM

20
How does this ancient song of political loyalty become a resource for our worshipping? We could ask “Who for us is King?” The answer is our Lord Jesus Christ. How do we affirm our loyalty.? By worship and by our lives offered genuinely and generously. Our king has indeed won a great battle for us but at an ultimate cost to himself on a Cross. Because of that victory we can hope for some lesser victories in our ongoing struggle against our own human nature.

THE SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 5:6-10,14-17
"We are always confident" - says Paul twice. I don’t think he is using “confident” as we would. The word comes from the Latin "con fides” meaning "with faith". A little later he says “we walk by faith”. That would suggest that faith is something of a progress, a journey, not a static trying to keep things as they are. Paul is trying to tell the Corinth community how faith works for him.  I think the key sentence is “that those who live might live no longer for themselves., but for him (Christ). In other words we are again hearing what is a central theme of Paul. In straight simple language he is saying that if you and I look to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, we have a focus much more inspiring and grace giving than if we regard our own selves as the centre of everything. 

THE HOLY GOSPEL

Mark 4. 26-34
This gospel passage is very straightforward. Jesus frequently used this idea of the kingdom of God as a seed that is sown, that grows, and is then reaped. 
In human life the process is not always straightforward. Jesus would tell another version of the parable, of life as a seeding where sometimes the seeding is defeated by other influences. Life is like that. It doesn’t come with guarantees, as we well know.  Seeds have to be nurtured, but even then life can affect them in many ways. In other words, our spirituality is an ongoing task. We ourselves have to nurture what has been seeded in us. One important image in this parable is when Jesus says that the seed sown in us can grow into a great tree “and put out large branches so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade, he is saying that if we have been fortunate enough to have been given a sense of spirituality, then we use it for others when life gives us opportunities to do so.