July 19, 2020 7th Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Sometimes things aren’t always what they seem. What do you see when you look at this picture? Some people see a frog. Others see a horse. Once you see each of the figures you can’t un-see them, the picture almost flips between the two animals. It is almost like you can’t quite pull the two figures apart in the picture. Jesus is telling the disciples that the Kingdom of God is like a field with wheat and weeds in it, all mixed together and at the end it gets sorted but for the right now it is all together and it is not your job to try and sort it all out. If you actually try and sort it all out - you will just hurt people.
Have you ever been told it isn’t your job to keep track of what your brother, sister or friend is doing wrong? That you can’t keep them from doing something wrong or forcing them do the right thing, and you can’t fix them. That is what Jesus is telling his disciples. You can’t do it. If you try, you will just hurt them and possibly yourself or others. It will most likely do more harm than good to a whole bunch of people by telling everybody they are wrong – when maybe you could be wrong too. Jesus is trying to help his disciples see it is not their job to weed people out of the group. They are to be the best they can be and you are to be the best you, you can be. Love God, love others and be the best you, you can.
So, this week every time you get the urge to tattle on someone or tell someone how wrong they are and how right you are, I want you to find something good they do to tell them about instead. Find the thing you like to share with them instead of what you think is their flaw. It has to be something real – you can’t lie to them or make something up. Find something wonderful that they do well and tell them about that thing. When you want to point out what they aren’t doing and what they can’t do right, I want you to instead point to what you see them doing that Jesus would be proud of. Please pray with me.
Reflection: “Growing Together”
When we hear the words the Kingdom of God is like…so many times we imagine heaven. We transport ourselves to the world that should be, ought to be, that thing we are being transformed into. We want to swing our arms open wide, close our eyes and escape into that place especially at times like this where there seems to be no good answers, no right choices and ambiguity surrounds everything.
Then we get Jesus giving us this parable. In typical Jesus fashion he has to go and mess with us, upset our wonderful image. Think about it. He starts it out the Kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field and while they were sleeping the enemy plants bad seed. How can the Kingdom of heaven have bad seed in it? Come on! This totally messes with what I had in mind.
According to William Barclay, in his commentary on Matthew this was something that was done occasionally during Jesus time to one’s enemies, especially with the weed Darnel to someone’s wheat field. It looked identical to wheat and you could not tell it apart until the fruit began to form. At that point pulling it out would uproot the good wheat too. There were actually laws and punishments for this kind of behavior as it created so much work and waste for the farmer causing each grain of the crop to have to be hand sorted. So this is something people actually could see happening. This meant that they could see that Jesus was reminding them that they were living in that Kingdom now – not in a long off hoped for reality, but now.
Jesus starts this parable telling us straight up that the Kingdom of God does not just have all the “right” people or the “right” things in it. That it is all mixed up. Somehow in all my imagining, in all my quiet moments I have never imagined the weeds as part of the Kingdom in any form. It hit me so forcefully this week that when I sit yearning for that escape into the kingdom, here Jesus is telling me you are already here dear. Open your eyes and heart. This is the Kingdom. At the harvest it will be complete, that is when it will be sorted, not your job by the way. Right now, right now you are experiencing my Kingdom. Have you noticed? Have you taken into account? Are you looking? Are you nurturing that wheat next to you? Are you growing together? Are you listening carefully for my voice?
Paul reminds us that we yearn for God and the fullness of God’s Kingdom while we are here. In Romans this week Paul tells us to put to death the action of the body with the Spirit – the words for body actually means something more akin to ego/selfishness. He reminds us that while we are in the Kingdom that is growing as Jesus is explaining in the parable, that we further it by how we live into that. That when we say yes to the Spirit, when we put our own ego aside, when we set aside our convictions of self-righteousness we live in hope for what is to come, what the world is to be with God our creator at the center.
Jesus reminds his disciples not to weed the harvest – it isn’t their place to judge, to yank out and cast away, but to nurture the field. When we remind ourselves that it is not our place to cast harsh judgements against those who don’t agree with us (especially at a time like this), but find ways to nurture one another in the middle of the mess – life seems much more manageable.
So how can you pray for one another this week. What can you do for someone this week? How can you share kindness especially with someone you see as a weed? What does it mean that you are actually living in the Kingdom of God now – weeds and all? How does that change you today? Your tomorrow?
Monday – Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24
Tuesday – Genesis 28:10-19a
Wednesday – Romans 14:1-23
Thursday – Matthew 12:35-37