ST MICHAEL & All ANGELS CHURCH
(Church of England)
St Michael's Green,
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Sermon given by Rev’d Camilla Walton
Matt 13.24 – 30.36 – 43
Fifth Sunday after Trinity - St Michaels 20th July 2014
During the giving of this sermon I did say some things as the Spirit led me but in general this is the text. Camilla.
Parable of the weeds of the field.
“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” (Matthew 13:37)
Parables are a really interesting way of being able to present eternal truths wrapped in such a way that each generation can discover for themselves what that truth is for them. They were not meant to bring instant answers, but rather to be windows into God’s activity and purpose within time and in the midst of our lives.
God’s at work in our lives and in the world is a thread running through our readings today.
In Matthew’s parable God’s is the hand that sows the seed. But then where do the weeds come from? Why is there both good and evil in God’s good world? What a pertinent question for us to think about and pray about after the week we have seen ….
Matthew describes the field in which the Son of Man is working, which contains both good and evil. I had read this reading earlier on in the week and so when I drove the non motorway route as I took my father down to his sisters for lunch in Streatley I was fascinated to see a field in which I guess there was an organic crop. The whole field was ripening wheat but riven through and then standing taller was what I would call wild barley but I guess for the parable of the day it was a field full of good seed and weeds. I had spread before me - the parable to consider in real life and as I looked I thought ‘if I were to walk through the field not only would my mere passing crush some ‘good seed’ but if I pulled the weeds they would also uproot the good seed that was ripening with heads full of grain!’
So what of this parable of the day, what of the question of weeds and good seed? To Whom do they belong and are we to judge or act upon our understanding or decision on the matter?
1. Firstly we can reflect upon whether this field refers to the world or the Church. What we do know is that We do not stand outside this story, but are called to be part of God’s work, putting our hands, our hearts and lives at God’s service.
2. The obvious evil in our world at the moment is the violent attitudes and actions that led to the death of the 4 boys and others in Gaza and Israel this week, and in the shooting down of the flight over Ukraine. Any one will be outraged at the pictures and news reports we heard. That is easy to see where the evil is and where the good .
But is it easy, is it just violence that can be judged.
3. What about the inaction of politicians in not interceding to stop this; or in turning blind eyes because quietly the action is suiting some sub-text.
So do we stand aside from the field mentioned in the story our responsibility to pray for peace and justice or is there some further link into our lives.
We need to notice the ‘script of the gospel writing’
Just as there is a pause between the parable’s story and the explanation, so we also see how Jesus wants us to take some time, be drawn in, become part of the crowd listening to Jesus.
In discerning his open hand and his loving voice where we stand today, we find our own possibilities, expressions and responses.
Clearly, Matthew is writing from the vantage point of knowing the end of the story – the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The Son of Man who walked and talked on earth was the Son of God.
The coming judge, whose power now spans the world and all time, is God.
Evil is spread wide in the world, but with a limited life span.
But what Jesus is telling us through the parable is that
Good, love, truth, mercy and righteousness – the presence of God’s kingdom – are stronger and eternal.
God’s kingdom will have the victory.
There is no call here to separate good from evil now, and also no easy, prescribed, practical way to draw a line between them.
Just as the crop in the field would be destroyed by going into part the good from the weeds so our world is inextricably a mixture of good and evil. But we cannot just say Oh Well, tut our tongue’s and keep ourselves to ourselves. we need to be seeking to be bringing the kingdom closer –
We can be part of transformation in small ways,
Perhaps in the care and help we give to the youth of this town though our church youthwork?
Perhaps in the modeling of loving care for others with no extra agendas?
As stated last week in the parable of the sower we have no knowledge of the changes we can be initiating. We just keep sowing the seed of god’s love.
We do not Judge,
We live in faith and hope
The Church loves and waits, trusting that God knows who serves God’s cause, whose lives God’s hand is guiding and keeping in the complex mystery of good and evil.
And, in the waiting, we all join in with our part in the growth of the Gospel and the life of the kingdom that Jesus came to reveal to us.
If you are not yet convinced of our need to wait, there is a further warning from this parable:
They are not the only ones in history, but, in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were known for their eagerness to form pure religious community, keeping the righteous separated from the others, judging who was “in” and who was “out” by their own rules. Rules make it simpler, and the stricter the better.
Jesus showed them, and us, a new way. It is not the easier way, but it is God’s chosen way.
Jesus was open and in no hurry to put boundaries around his own group of followers.
Jesus’ disciples are called to be salt and light, bringing and being transformation in the world, living the life of the kingdom, revealing God’s hand in our world. The parable’s question awaits our response: are we growing good seed or weeds in God’s good soil?
It takes persistence to do our part, patience not to do God’s, and faith.
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