Sermon; 7 Pentecost/Proper 11A; Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43
Just like last week, we are teaching the crowds in parables. There can be many interpretations, but I’d like to share what I’ve seen in my life of ‘Wheat’ and ‘Weeds.’ Neighbors are stumbling blocks sometimes. Such as, the neighbor who mows the lawn on Sunday while you want quiet time at your pool?
Even worse, you have a professional lawn service, massaging every green grass-root every week. Still, your neighbor has every dandelion in the county going to seed and blowing into your yard, challenging your paid lawn service.
Being neighborly can be a challenge. Not just in that love your neighbor as yourself, but honestly not aggravating your next-door neighbor.
Today’s first half of the Gospel has a cast of characters. God, the Creator, is the Landowner. Those who do not know the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven and turn from the Creator are The Evil One(s). Those of us who have our life and breathe from God, are the slaves, which rather we should be The Beholden ones to the Creator, who see the weeds. And, finally, the Reaper played by our Redeemer Jesus.
The landowner sows the wheat seeds (creation is good), and then we have a struggle or stumbling block that keeps us from realizing the goodness and some weeds show up, by those who are skeptical or apathetic. Sin gets in the way.
What stands out for me is that we, The Beholden Ones, wait for the wheat and the weeds until they are fully grown. We do nothing but observe the growth. Reapers or Jesus, not us, will harvest the wheat and bundle the weeds. The wheat will go on to make the bread, and the weeds will burn to add energy to bake the bread. And the weeds will warm the house, sterilize the water, and light up the darkness. The field is good. Some neighbors are just pesky.
Sometimes we are the pesky neighbors. We mow the lawn during the party next door or chop down hedges along the property line that the neighbor has to re-align his.
Maybe we play our music too loud into the late night. There is always a stumbling block or dandelion to shift our focus from God to the hurt in and around us.
This shift is why we have hope heard in the Romans 8:18-25 passage,
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
We have patience in waiting for the full harvest and full redemption when Jesus comes again for us, which leads us to the ‘splaining’ part of the parable.
The disciples are now alone with Jesus in a house.
They ask, what does the parable of the wheat and weeds mean? The writer of Matthew uses strong language for folks to turn and repent.
The time Matthew was written, the chosen people of God, leaned into the resurrection story, they were what I’ve called fledgling Jewish Christian folk, People of the Way more precisely. Terror was raining down on them from Rome.
Persecution was very present for everyone who wasn’t a Roman. Roman rule was the devil. Persecution and oppression were rampant was oppression and persecution against the Chosen and the People of the Way. So when we hear Matthew’s telling of what this parable means, we are most certainly going to get the absolute judgment, end of days, and eternal fire and even weeping and gnashing of teeth. The angels will gather up the wheat and the weeds. Those weeds are sent to the eternal fire. The folks of Matthew’s time were only at the beginning of a new reformed Judaic way of life. The writer of Matthew touches on the Book of Daniel in terms of revelation and end times. He even uses a widely used pseudepigraphic writing of Enoch to get his point across. Why would the community need such dire warnings?
What we know of Matthew is he is deliberately writing to those who know Jesus was, is, and yet to be. His hearers may be leaning on the law of righteousness and not seeing the reason why the law was about becoming righteous. Many were holding onto the way it always was. Do the law, be right with God. But, what about why we do the law? What about deadheading those dandelions before they go to seed if you have that many, make dandelion wine, and share it with your neighbor?
Today is about why we love our neighbors as ourselves. It is about God’s dream for us in the Kingdom of Heaven, by reaching out in love to our neighbor. Each time we reach with love, the Spirit helps us loosen the binds of our way instead of God’s way. Although, we must wait with patience and open our eyes to what is revealed to us.
We have the first fruits of the Spirit. So that although we may now weep, we hope in Christ, who redeemed us all, to be the adopted wheat.
Let anyone with tender ears listen to what the Spirit has for you.