Dear Friends


Appreciating God’s grace – and living in and responding to God’s kingdom


The mustard tree has such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade. 

Mark 4:32

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 

Matthew 5:44

Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. 

Mark 3:35

There’s nothing new in the Bible quotes above – we’ve all heard them many times before. But that doesn’t mean that they no longer count for anything. In many ways they are more important now than ever before – for we live in a divided world, a divided society. 

The image of God’s Kingdom is that of the mustard tree. We often make the mistake of focusing on the size – we talk about the largest tree or bush from the smallest seed, and then feel OK that there aren’t that many people coming to church anymore, because surely we are going to grow. But what we should really turn our attention to is the shade that the tree provides and more importantly the fact that anyone can rest in that shade.

‘Anyone’ means those people we don’t know, people we don’t like, and of course, ourselves! Yes, God extends the invitation to share in the shade to everyone. This is a great example of what we mean by grace – no matter that we don’t deserve to be part of God’s plan, God is just happy to continuously offer an invitation and have us along for the ride.

So if the shade of the tree is the description of God’s Kingdom, then how do we respond to it? Well the answer is in the second and third Gospel quotes: We must model the Kingdom through our actions. This means we are called to offer our love to everyone. You might feel that ‘enemies’ is a little strong – and if that’s the case, consider for a moment those who make you feel uncomfortable or whose views you disagree with. And how do we do this as a church community – that’s something that we should always be thinking about: how to play our part in extending the shade, offering a welcome, being available to meet the needs of others....

We will know when we are successful in this, because then we will no longer talk of ‘others’ and of people different from us, but instead of brothers and sisters and mothers.

No-one ever said that being a Christian was easy – and that’s because it’s not! But as we wrestle with our faith and seek out God’s way in our lives, we can always find comfort in the fact that God wants us to succeed, and that we travel not on our own but as brothers and sisters in Christ.