NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR JULY 20, 2014
Last week, this week and next week, the lectionary gospel readings feature parables of Jesus from Matthew 13. This whole chapter entirely features nothing but parables of Jesus. There is even a parable telling why Jesus used parables.
Now, while it is true that we take comfort in some of Jesus’ parables, let me be clear that parables are not meant to pat us on the back, but rather to give us a kick in the pants. They are not intended to comfort us, but to challenge us and lead to changing us. Parables speak out against the status quo. Michael Green said, “Parables are demonstrators waving signs of protest, speaking out against our ways of thinking, our traditional ways of experiencing and obeying God.” He is absolutely right.
Last week featured the lengthy parable of “The Sower and the Seed.” The main point of my sermon on this parable is that Jesus wants our hearts to become good soil where the seed of God’s love and grace helps us to have hope and a joyful heart that produces a good harvest for God’s dominion. Then Deacon Susan Green hit a home run with her commentary in consecrating communion. It was funny and outstanding.
I should ask her for an encore presentation of the same commentary since this week’s lengthy parable is another life lesson about the Divine Gardner. It’s “The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat.” In it, we are told that Jesus is the one who will separate the wheat from the weeds, not us. The trouble in church is that we church folks try to give Jesus a helping hand with this and in our spiritual haste or haughtiness we too often mistake wheat for weeds and reject those “out of the box” gifts that God may have placed among us.
I believe one of the things this parable is telling us is that we should not be in the business of making judgments about who among us is wheat and who are weeds in our church. But that doesn’t mean we cannot do a little weeding in our own garden of life. Perhaps the unspoken message of this parable is don’t worry about other people’s gardens and tend to your own. It’s “Time for Pulling Weeds” in your own garden!
With that in mind, I share the following from St. Francis of Assisi, who understood it was “Time for Pulling Weeds” in his garden; but he also knew that the Divine Farmer was the best one to do it. So he wrote in the “Prayer of St. Francis:”
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
So join us this Sunday for another life lesson from the Divine Gardener as we discover that “Time for Pulling Weeds” can lead to a fuller, richer walk with God and each other. The sermon is based on Matthew 13:24-30 and Matthew 13:36-43.