Pentecost 7 – Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23, 2017  

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, a “weed” is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted.

My high school Horticulture teacher taught me that “a weed is a flower whose beauty or purpose hasn’t been discovered yet.

Jeanne and I have plenty of weeds in our yard and gardens.
B
ut some of those weeds are pretty. Queen Ann’s Lace is a favorite wildflower of mine. Yet it is growing like a weed. We have Goat’s Beard growing—it’s a weed, even though it has a great flower and when it goes to seed, is really quite marvelous. Violets: pretty. Clover: pretty, and the rabbits love it. Dandelions, kids love them and so do the bees. Even the Creeping Charlie, which I hate, has pretty flowers every year.

Jesus said a good man planted seeds, wheat seeds. While he slept an evil man came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the plants came up the weeds appeared as well. The man’s servants wanted to pull the weeds. The Man said no. They shouldn’t pull the weeds because they might uproot the wheat

The story is a parable, which means, although it is a story about wheat and weeds, it isn’t really a story about wheat and weeds.

What is the story about

Fortunately for us, Jesus explains. According to Jesus, the parable neatly divides people into two categories: children of the kingdom and children of the evil one.
Children of the kingdom are, of course, the good seeds planted by Jesus. They are righteous. They will, at the time of everlasting judgment, “shine like the sun.

Children of the evil one are the weeds that were planted by the devil. At the time of everlasting judgement, they will be thrown into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The story is a tidy little parable, neatly packing us each in place, like seeds in seed packets. We are wheat or we are weeds. There is no in-between.

End of sermon.
Time for me to go home and mow my weeds.

Except that isn’t the end. That isn’t the beginning. If I end my sermon here I will have missed the point.

This parable is not about whether we are weeds or wheat. This parable is about WHO DECIDES which we are.

The slaves of the good man thought they knew which plants were wheat and which plants were weeds. They were ready to go and gather the weeds.

The good man knew the task wasn’t so easy. The good man knew that, if the slaves picked the “weeds” the slaves might accidently pull up some of the wheat. And so the good man said “Let both of them grow.”

Let both of them grow.

We think we know, don’t we?

WE think we can look at others and just KNOW if people are good, or if they are no good, if they are wheat, or if they are weeds.

If there is one thing most everybody has in common, it is the desire to judge most everybody else. And most everybody is pretty comfortable judging themselves…

How many times have you heard someone say, about themselves: I’m no good.

Or have you said those words about yourself

How many times have we looked at someone we know, or someone we don’t know, and thought “That person is worth-less.” “See him, he’s a wild one.” “She doesn’t belong here.”

According to the dictionary, a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted so, that must make him or her or them a weed. “They’ll be weeping and gnashing their teeth when judgment day comes, mark my words.”

But, according to my high school horticulture teacher, a weed is a flower whose beauty or purpose hasn’t been discovered yet. Or, in this day and age, the purpose has been discovered, we know it is beautiful, we just don’t want to believe it so we call it a weed. We call the person worthless.

Have you ever felt judged by someone else? Probably. Have you ever just wanted to scream “I am somebody!” Or “I am beautiful!” Or “I am just as important as you are!” Or “God loves me just as much as God loves you!”

This parable is not about who is a weed, who is wheat. This parable is about who decides who is a weed and who is wheat. And it isn’t US!

This parable ought to serve as a warning: be careful how you judge other people! You might be making a terrible mistake! LET GOD BE GOD!!!

Only God knows us. Only God sees us for who we truly are. Only God is capable of making the kind of judgment we tend to want to make about ourselves, and about others.

That can be a frightening thought, knowing God knows us and sees us.

Don’t forget, God loves us. God sees us through a lens of love. Any judgment God makes about us will be rooted in God’s unending love for us and for the world.

Which is the way we are supposed to know and love ourselves and each other, but we simply aren’t always able. We try and we ought to keep on trying to love one another. That is our greatest challenge. But when we can’t, we need to step back and lean on what we know is real, and that is God’s love for every person.

One of my favorite flowers is a wildflower that grows like a weed along the side of the road: chicory. I love chicory. I can’t pick it because as soon as I do, the flower closes.  Chicory isn’t a fancy flower or plant. Chicory is just what it is, a simple flower/weed. But I love it.
Honestly, there is nothing fancy about any one of us, not really. There is no reason for God to love us as much as God does. And yet, God does.

God loves each of us deeply. God loves each of us divinely.

What a wonderful thing to know. To trust. And to believe.

Amen.