The Gospel reading set for Morning Prayer today was Mark 1:14-20, in which we encounter God’s sovereignty expressed through the cleaning/mending/preparing and casting of a fishing net. But what does that look like, in concrete terms, grounded in place, rooted in my life as one who has read these words again today?
Well, this morning at Sunderland Minster we had a picnic for families. I lost track of how many nationalities were represented, but there were people from across Eastern Europe, people from the Gulf States, people from the Horn of Africa. The lawns on the south side of the Minster a patchwork of blankets; children colouring and cutting and pasting and glittering suns and moons and stars; sprawling over cushions while eating a sandwich; wiggling toes and laughing at the wonder of their own feet; running off and being brought back again; adults engaging in wide-ranging conversations. Christians and Muslims and in all probability atheists sitting down together in friendship. Life shared, between people for whom life has, at times, been precarious and in need of cleaning, mending, preparing, and casting again into a new and deep unknown that may hold the promise of goodness, found here, in our midst, in this city on the edge of the North Sea.
Here is the sovereignty of God, made ready for the moment in the preparing of packed lunches; the filling and cutting and wrapping of sandwiches, the putting out of a selection of crisps and fruit, the serving of drinks, both hot and cold; and in the bringing out of blankets, play mats, pens and paper, scissors and glue; and in the putting away of these things again at the end, the carrying of rubbish to the bins and the setting out whatever will be needed for next time.
And this is just a snapshot. But then, so is Mark 1:14-20.