Welcoming Branches

Wing Song, a fabric by Michael Miller

Mark 4:30-34 (NRSV)
Jesus also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Ezekiel 17:22-24 (NRSV)
Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind. All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.

In Ezekiel 17:22-24, God plants a tiny cedar twig on a high mountain of Israel and that twig becomes a large and fruitful tree under whose branches every kind of bird will find shelter. The birds there symbolize the nations that flock to Israel’s God on the glorious day of the Lord. This word-picture in both Ezekiel and Mark envisions the day when God’s sovereign and life-giving power will embrace the whole world—good news indeed! – Commentary on Gospel by Sharon H. Ringe

The kingdom of God is described not in grandiose terms but in terms of ordinary, quiet beauty- as an inviting place to call home. – Commentary on Gospel by Meda Stamper

Sowing the seed, my hand is one with the earth.
Wanting the seed to grow, my mind is one with the light.
Hoeing the crop, my hands are one with the rain.
Having cared for the plants, my mind is one with the air.
Hungry and trusting, my mind is one with the earth.
Eating the fruit, my body is one with the earth.
-Wendell Berry

Prayer to the Welcoming One
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Welcoming One,
Your mercy knows no limit
Your grace knows no margin

You reach out

Like a tree full of branches
Satisfied with the song of unnumbered birds

Like a hen collecting her newborns
Sheltering them beneath healing wings

Like a surprised fisherman
Taking up a bursting, exotic catch

Like a good shepherd
Extending the flock in every direction

Open us, as you continue to open yourself
So all may come within the reach
Of your saving embrace

———————
Prayer to the Welcoming One © 2012 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use these works in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish these works in any form.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s