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July 23, 2017, 9:50 AM

Kingdom Harvest

by Sandy Bach

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears[d] listen!

Last week we met a lavish farmer who cast seed everywhere.  He didn't seem to care where it landed.  Most of it landed on hard rocky ground, or among the thorns or got scorched by the sun.  Only a small amount landed in good soil and grew a hundred fold, sixty fold or thirty fold.

This week our farmer was far more particular.  He planted only good seed in good soil.  The rows were straight, each seed placed in its proper place.  Then he slept.  The enemy showed up and sowed weeds.  Not just dandelions, but darnel: deadly weed.  Come harvest, this weed must not be mixed in with the good wheat or the entire crop will be inedible.

I'm told that darnel wraps its roots around the roots of the good wheat, sucking off nutrients and water.  It's hard to tell the difference between wheat and darnel until the ear appears.

Recently a friend of mine said, "The church is filled with hypocrites!"  I responded, "Yes it is.  Come and join us."

The church is filled with sinful people.  None of us are pure or perfect.  Most of us admit it and understand that's why we're a part of the church.  Get rid of the hypocrites and there's no church!  Wheat and weeds sit together in the pews.  The problem occurs when we're forced to admit that sometimes we're the weed.

Weeds suck off the nutrients from the wheat.  They can be insidious and invasive.  Weeds speak without thinking; they exclude; they're judgemental.

Or weeds do nothing. They sit back and allow bad things to happen without speaking out.  I'm reminded of the words of Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran Pastor who spoke about the cowardice of Germans during the Nazi Regime:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

There's a time to speak and a time to be silent; a time to act and a time to wait.  Sometimes it's easier to be a weed.

Yet, weeds face judgement.  Jesus' words are harsh.  Why doesn't the farmer have the weeds gathered before they have a chance to take root?  And why is the punishment so harsh?

The wheat and weeds are  you and me.  Sometimes we get it right.  We welcome the stranger whom we'd rather pass by; we stand up for the poor and do something about it.  Sometimes we're weeds, demanding walls rather than bridges; war rather than peace.  In our fear of losing what we already have, we gather even more, not realizing who we're hurting.

If God had weeds plucked up, there would be none of us left.  No chance to grow and change.  No chance to be discipled and disciplined by the Master.  So, God puts up with us and our callousness and our lack of discipline;  our fear and judgementalism.

On a good day, we're wheat.  Like Peter, we get a moment's insight and do the right thing.  We welcome the stranger or stand up for the sidelined.  We build bridges; we try to understand those with whom we disagree.

But, what about those other weeds?  What about those who are proud of their weediness? Those who make a life out of proudly putting others down in order to make themselves feel better; who greedily take what doesn't belong to them; who spew hate and vitriol with abandon?  Now, those are weeds that God needs to see to!

God does.  God is at work.  God uses evil for good.  Most of all, God isn't finished, yet.  Even these weeds have a chance to change.  And, ultimately, God will have the last word.

I find comfort in this.  I don't celebrate that those who harm are headed for a fiery hell.  Nor do I want to stand in judgement on those who oppose my opinions.  What comforts me is that God is in charge and at work.

Sometimes we set the bar high.  For ourselves and for others.  Our measuring stick isn't what matters.  What matters is that stay in the farmer's field, knowing that when we fail, God picks us up, dusts me off and allows us a chance to learn.  When we do well, God says, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

We love God, because God loved us first.  God loves us when we're weeds and God still loves us when our wheatness turns weedy.  That gives us all hope.  When we are suffering or hurt because of people or circumstances, we live in hope.  Suffering and hope are what connects us to Christ.  We are connected through his own suffering on the cross and his resurrection.

God is patient.  Perhaps too patient.  Yet, that's what we need: patience from our creator to become the healthy, authentic people God intends for us to be.  When life throws us curves, we may not respond well.  And that's when we depend on God's patience.

That's where we live and move and have our being.  Others may want to harm us.  Sometimes they succeed.  So we live in the hope that God is still in charge and at work.

Our job is to stand up for what is right; to meet people where they are in their their weediness; to continue being a disciple; to persevere no matter what.

The rest is up to God.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


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