Potsdam United Methodist Church
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Weeds

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Christian W. Remick, July 20, 2014

Textual Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

I once looked up in the sky and saw a beautiful bird just soaring through the air. It was way, way up and had such grace as it dove and rose and drifted on the wind currents which carried it along.

I've always loved that sight, birds soaring freely on the wind, moving along fast and smooth with apparently so little effort. If you've ever read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, you realize that what appears to be little effort is really a great feat of scientific aerodynamics and advanced muscle control as the bird adjusts its feathers to take advantage of the wind's shifting speed and direction.

As I watched this bird coming lower and lower I remained fascinated with its skill until, Until it came closer and I realized that it wasn't a beautiful bird after all. It was nothing but a common crow. Ahh, nothing to see here, let's move on, maybe a hawk or even an eagle will appear if I keep looking.

As I thought about that encounter with nature, I became more and more disappointed with my reaction. How did knowing it was a crow change its beauty? It didn't. So I walked on glad that I had seen a beautiful soaring...Crow.

Weeds. My flower garden has many weeds. My problem is that it is still the garden I had when I moved in 5 years ago. I haven't added any seed or plants to it. Nature has added some I am sure because it is cluttered and crowded. So my problem is discerning what plants are supposed to be there and what plants are weeds.

You see, to my eyes they all look pretty good. I think maybe there should be more flowers, but all the different shades of green are really cool, to me. I'm sure with a little research, networking with flower garden experts and personal attention, I could sort it out, but in today's gospel lesson I feel a little vindicated. Let the weeds stay Jesus says lest you uproot the good plants while pulling the weeds.

So, I guess it's ok to just leave it alone and let my garden do its thing.

I think I have made it clear that I am not really good at Gardening, let alone farming. And I am guessing that many of you who are good with gardens and crops-particularly wheat, are struggling with Jesus telling a story that says leave the weeds even though we know that they will make life more difficult for the planted crops.

Many of the commentaries and sermons I examined before writing this sermon suggest that Jesus was really challenging the norm as he often did, by suggesting they Not remove the weeds. Some commentators went as far as to say Jesus knew little about farming.

But Jesus wasn't talking about farming was he? Not directly anyway. He knew exactly what to say to these people who most likely knew a lot about farming. He was getting their attention by talking to them about something that was familiar to them and something that really mattered to them.

Tainting a person's crop was serious business. The bad seed that was spread by the enemy looked a lot like regular wheat. But if, as many suppose, it was darnel which looks a lot like wheat, if it was darnel then it would produce poisonous grain which would make the people very sick. Not only was this bad seed going to do damage to the regular crop, but it was also going to hurt the people eating it.

The people hearing this parable would have been very curious then, why Jesus would not want these bad plants weeded out.

Weeds are a part of life. They work their way into our roots and branches and get in our way. They sap our nutrients and weaken our physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. So why do we need them? Why can't we just rid ourselves of all negative influences in our lives and live lives in perfect peace and harmony?

Well, I'm not sure we do Need them. I could make a case for how weeds in our lives can be character building and faith building and I think there is some meat there, or at least some really quality grain if meat isn't your thing. But our use for weeds and the positive impact they may have in our lives, isn't what I feel lead to explore today.

For me, in this reading of the parable is the call to be patient with weeds and recognize that I am not a harvester. I don't have the wisdom to recognize and remove the weeds in my life without damaging the good in my life. Weeds come in many shapes and sizes. They can be people, institutions, or they can be bad habits within us that gnaw at us tempting us to do things we know we should not do. Certainly we are called to work with the bad influences in our lives and avoid being brought down by the things we find weedy. But most of all we are called to greater challenge of pressing on toward the goal in faith and trust that God has things under control.

Like my garden some of the things I may find weedy may be meant to be there. And in our lives many things we find distressing may be serving a greater purpose we have failed to see.

So I realize that our attempts to rid our lives of all weeds could do more harm than good. I don't understand weeds. But God does. God will take care of the weeds, when the time is right, according to God's divine schedule and plan. God through the redeeming power and sacrifice of Jesus, "Will send his angels and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers"

All causes of sin and all evildoers. I like how the scripture puts that. When we say the Lord's prayer we ask God to "Deliver us from Evil." This is that Part. God will deliver us from evil. God will do the weeding. With God's wisdom and care in God's time. In God's way.

Our job is to remain faithful and trusting that God, the owner of the fields, is in control in and amongst the weeds.

Our job is to learn to love each other and ourselves seeing through the weeds and to the true beauty of God's work in us, in others and all around us.

Our job is to strive to be the healthiest plants we can be following the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as much as we can. Through study, prayer and worship the weeds we encounter will have very little affect.

For Great is God's Faithfulness, All we have needed thy hand hath provided.

Pardon for Sin and a Peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all ours with ten thousand beside. (Great is Thy Faithfulness, Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960)

The parable of the weeds among the wheat is a parable of hope that God will overcome all evil and that we are to remain faithful in the face of that evil.

Let us Pray: Lord your son taught us so much in a very short time. Guide us in our quest to become closer to you through what he taught us and through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Teach us to be patient and loving with the weeds in our lives. Patient with ourselves and patient with others so that we can see you at work in all of creation. Even in crows. Amen.