Sunday, July 19, 2020

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Yr A Proper 11 July 19 2020

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Yr A Proper 11 July 19 2020
Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Scholar’s think that the second part of the parable we heard today, the interpretation, was a later addition. So this morning, this preacher is making a choice to preach on the first part, the parable excluding the interpretation.

Let’s take a look at this morning’s parable. The farm hands of the householder have discovered that someone has come out in the dark of night, and sowed weeds in the wheat, and they are beginning to grow alongside the wheat. The farm hands want to pull the weeds, but the householder tells them not to because pulling the weeds would destroy the wheat as well. The householder tells them to let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time collect the weeds first and burn them, and then gather the wheat.

Last week I told you briefly about my weed garden. Rick is the green thumb in our family, I can’t get anything to grow, except weeds. I have some beautiful huge dandelions, and clover, I really like the clover. If I had it my way, we’d all have native grass yards, that’s really code for “whatever weeds grow in our area.” You see, I’m really not very dedicated to weeding, I pull the ones I don’t think are pretty, that would make me quite judgmental I suppose.

At St. Andrew’s in Rapid City, my friend Harold Oberlander is a wheat farmer. I asked him about growing wheat, it seems to me to be an incredibly hard crop to grow, too much rain, not enough rain, late snow, early snow, and hail will kill it all. Everyone calls him Obie, and I asked him about the weeds and the wheat. He told me you can’t pull the weeds, because pulling the weeds pulls up the wheat as well. Who knew?

In the end, I think this parable from Matthew is about two things. It is about our patience, and it reminds us that God is God, and we are not.

You see, the wheat and the weeds grow up together. If we were wheat farmers, we would know that to remove the weeds is to kill the wheat. These are a particular kind of weed. The weed, or tare, in our gospel parable is a specific plant—darnel—a grass that grows in the same zones where wheat is produced. Darnel looks very much like wheat when it is immature; its roots intertwine with those of the wheat and its toxic grains are loosely attached to the stem. The problem of what to do with an infested field does not have a simple solution—pull up the shoots and you pull up the wheat; wait until the harvest and you poison the grain and contaminate next year’s crop with failing seeds.

You just can’t pull the weeds too early, you must be patient and find the right time for pulling.

In the parable it is reported that the one who is responsible for the weeds is an enemy. But instead of attacking the enemy who put the weeds there, the householder let the weeds and the wheat live together until harvest. If the householder is like God, the field hands are disciples like you and me, the weeds are those who we may consider bad, or evildoers, or even merely those with whom we disagree, and the wheat is those who we may consider good, right thinking, or merely those with whom we agree. At this time in Jewish practice, two different things were never to touch each other, that resulted in impurity, and purity along with holiness were the two most important concepts in Jewish life. But Jesus brings this new thing into the world, new life, new love. I think the point is that Jesus’ disciples, you and me are to let the wheat and the weeds grow side by side and leave judgment to God.

Now, that is shocking. Judgment? is up to God? Not up to you or me. God’s judgment, God’s righteousness, God’s perfection is perfect love and mercy. Blessings of sun and rain fall upon the righteous and unrighteous alike. This is truly a story that reminds us that God is God and we are not.

What has happened here is that Jesus has removed the burden of judgment from our shoulders. Jesus went to the cross and absorbed and contained the evil of the world, the evil of his tormenters. Jesus has freed us to give into love. Don’t be afraid of those weeds, don’t give in to fear. We are not called to serve as judge, judging will only make us more anxious as we try to maintain constant vigilance, always eyeing our neighbor to try to pick out the enemy.

Our vocation is to love, as God first loved us. Jesus is the merciful judge; we don’t have to worry about how to do his job. Jesus is the merciful judge, and so we have access to an unshakable hope, the blessed assurance that we will be judged with the same infinite mercy, as will our enemies.

The wheat and the tare are intertwined; to pull the weeds to early is to kill the plant. It’s a desperate situation. But we know from this side of the story that Jesus is in a desperate situation. We know that his life leads him to suffering and death on the cross, and we also know that ultimately God inaugurates the new creation in Jesus’ resurrection, but not without the suffering that precedes it. Another way to experience this parable of the wheat and the tare is to let it teach us about death and resurrection, about heartache and hope. Maybe the householder is wise in letting the wheat and the tare grow up together because the householder knows something about suffering and death. Because that is the truth, isn’t it? The householder, who is God in this parable, knows something about heartache and hope. Jesus walks in the midst of the weeds and the wheat and embraces us all.

Friends, in the midst of the chaos in which we are living, this parable speaks so much truth. This chaos, all this disruption, is beyond what our normal practices can fix. We want to weed the garden and the gardener is saying, “Wait. Watch. Be patient.” We can hardly tell which is the weeds and which is the wheat, for all the mudslinging name calling and one upsmanship of offense, I’m offended, no I’m offended more! We must listen closely to what the spirit is saying to us, normal is no longer. God is calling us to do it differently. God is calling us to patiently love one another. God is calling us to live together as the beloved community, wheat or weeds, if we try to destroy one, we destroy the whole thing. God is calling us to build one another up, so

It is so hard to be patient isn’t it. We want so desperately to be normal again, when we’ll never be normal. Going back to the way it always was is like pulling the weeds before the wheat is ready. It only does damage. We have to be patient and wait for the newness God has in store for us. The newness that can only come to fruition through patience, and tending, listening, letting go. We are being called to a new thing, and love is the way. And thank God the weeds and the wheat get to grow up together, because really and truly, I’m thankful for the weeds. Amen.

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