Weeds among the wheat
Text study Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Lectionary text for July 17, 2011
My wife and I were walking in a beautifully tended public garden recently and saw this Thomas Fuller quote on a banner along the path: "Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there." How true, say the lessons for this week!
We live in a world of ambiguity, of power and control, of suffering and survival. What do we do with weeds among the wheat, when sin pops up within us or among us and evil is around us? Or in these days of genetically modified seeds, who determines what is weed and what is good seed? Perhaps a plant growing is not so much a weed as it is a plant growing in the wrong place.
I write knowing that many among us live in areas hit hard with natural disasters -- flooding along the Missouri River and tornadoes in places like Joplin, Mo. How does good seed grow when one’s fields are under 5 feet of water or one’s house, church building and community lie in ruins?
These lessons are a call to trust in God even in the midst of adversity. We may be treated harshly by the elements of nature and suffer great loss. The challenge is to be good seed when there is so much suffering around you, when creation itself is groaning and longing for a better day.
We may also see the weeds growing within, experiencing our own suffering, as we wrestle with being God’s children, walking the walk, doing the good and serving others. We discover things growing that never were sown, things like pride puffing us up to think we should be judge over others.
There is judgment in these texts, and hence no "cheap grace." But the God who promises judgment at the close of the age is also with us to the close of the age.
God is for us, not against us, and in Jesus we discover God’s mercy. There is good seed that will last and grow! Empowered by the Spirit we are children of God, heirs with Christ. His is the way from the sufferings of the present to the promised glory of the future.
Another quote on a banner, this one from Thomas Cooper: "A garden is never so good as it will be next year." We live in mercy and hope.
• How do you live as good seed among suffering?
• How do you handle the weeds in your life?
Gerald Mansholt is the bishop of Central States Synod of the ELCA.