When a seed, only small,
grows a tree, so sturdy and tall;
birds build nests, in its shade
homes are made: this is eternity.
The kingdom of God is now and forever
God’s love holds together what is now and yet to be,
all that we are, what we’ll become,
and all that humankind remembers
are held within the promise
that we call eternity.
When a child starts to play
as a family grows day by day;
life contracts and expands
our dreams and plans: this is eternity.
When the Church hears God’s word;
takes it out, to share with the world;
love is shared, faith explored
hope restored: this is eternity.
While the globe surely spins;
human lives will end and begin.
Truth and love, these endure
evermore: this is eternity.
Words and music by Kimberley Rayson
Ideas for use
This hymn is a reflection on Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed (see below), but it extends to the idea of kingdom-as-eternity, the space created and inhabited by God in which we have a home. This makes Eternity appropriate for wide use within worship.
Each verse is sung to a simple, reflective melody (which might lend itself to being sung by a soloist or small group), which gives way to an upbeat celebration of the kingdom of God. The refrain doesn’t need to be rushed – the faster rhythms and syncopations naturally increase the pace of the hymn, providing a contrast to the verses. The music is well-suited to the variety of instrumentation and rhythms that a worship band could bring to it.
Eternity was composed as a response to the parable of the mustard seed, told by Jesus in Mark 4: 30–32 (Also Matthew 13: 31–32 and Luke 13: 18–19) The parable is one of what are known as Jesus’ parables of the kingdom. Specifically, it is a parable about the growth of God’s kingdom, and its availability to all. Though a mustard plant could grow as high as eight feet, or occasionally even taller, a mustard plant is not a tree, but a shrub that is large compared to the size of its seed and to the size of many other herb and spice plants.
Kimberley Rayson was inspired to write her song following an exploration of the parable in a session of Godly Play, which is reflected in the progression of the verses: from the description of seed and plant in verse 1, through the implications of play and growth in verse 2, to the wider implications of God’s kingdom for us in verse 3.