Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of Christ

Greymouth Uniting Church

© James Emery CC-BY-2.0

Weeds among the wheat

Readings: Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.

One of the statements I use in my funeral services is "and to know with truth whether what we have valued in ourselves has eternal value."

I think today's parable from Jesus speaks to this thinking. That what is of eternal value grows up in the midst of everything else.

My cousin used to have a notice in her office "I don't should on you so, don't you should on me." And I was reminded of it the other day when I went to do a home visit and noticed a sign at the entrance saying "Leave your shoulds at the gate."

There is something innate in us that wants to think we know what other people need and how they 'should' be acting.

And our seed parables are about actions - about, planting and growth and harvest.

Last weeks sower spoke to us of liberally sowing seed without regard for where it might land - the call to sow is important. And it also spoke to us of being open and prepared to have seed sown in us.

Today's seed parable also wants us to be open and aware - to realise what is happening around us and within us - and that everything we experience can prove to be useful - even the thistles can be used as fuel. But only if they are allowed to grow and get harvested later on. Pulled out too soon and you would lose the wheat as well.

The Greek word for thistles or weeds in Matthew's parable is 'zinzania' - the weed that fools you. And commentators suggest he was talking about darnel which starts off looking like wheat but grows to have smaller and darker grain and is shorter than wheat. So back in Jesus' time the the wheat would have been reaped above the height of the darnel. These days the wheat and weed go through a thrasher that first removes the chaff from the wheat and then run it over a sieve to allow the smaller darnel to fall through and be cast off with the chaff.

Jacob's dream story invites us to be open to finding God in all sorts of places and to hearing promise and invitation to full and abundant life, even while sleeping on a a stone pillow. And Paul's message to the Romans is telling us that life is a mixed bag - hard/good; difficult/glorious; and that we can act out of a joyful expectancy about what's next.

So what else does our wheat and weeds story suggest to us about living today? What if we think about it in relation to our community and country living? What do they look like compared with 15, 20, 50 years ago?

What has changed?

  • Ethnic make-up
  • Social values
  • Speed
  • Technology

What are our responses and those of others?

  • judgemental
  • negative.
Countless examples throughout the world as well as close to home. Northern Ireland; Bosnia; Kosovo; Sudan; Syria; Philippines; Indonesia; USA.

The judgements made of others are all around us.

And yet what is the parable suggesting is a better way to view the situation and to act?

What is it asking of us?

  • work with
  • leave all to grow
  • recognise the insights of others and other religions

At a recent meeting I was at I was impressed by someone making the following statement "I'm not sure about this but I'll leave God to do the judging."

I was impressed because it indicated to me an openness to accept that we don't always find easily today. Having an opinion and being able to state it is valued. Applying critical thinking and being decisive is valued. Knowing where you stand and holding to it is valued. And yet....

Here is the call to care for others as ourselves to be careful of who we are and who others are To recognise that we are all both wheat and weeds and while there are obvious weeds to be removed we need to be gentle on ourselves and kind to others - careful not to pull up the wheat - the good growing in amongst the weeds.

And that removal of weeds can happen just by making the wheat grow stronger. That what is of value can be encouraged and nurtured and will overpower and outlast what is not - that what is no of value will fall by the wayside. We let patience do its perfect work.

We do not work with God's ideas to set things right. We work with God's ideas to see things right.

We are open and receptive to the orderly growth of the Spirit's healing action in us. We let the mind of Christ instruct us. We listen and we share.

Woman harvesting wheat
© Yann Forget CC-BY-SA-3.0.