St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-23-2017

St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-23-2017

Growing Among the Weeds

Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 86:11-17, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen.

One might do a little head scratching when reading today’s Gospel account of Jesus’ parable of sowing seeds that immediately follows the one we heard last week that also spoke of sowing seeds.

Last week’s parable ended with the words “But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (13:23) But today we hear of seed that falls on good soil but winds up with weeds growing all around it. (scratching head). But this story doesn’t confuse the previous, rather it expands on it.

Whereas last week we heard of seed that fell on the path and was eaten by the birds, seed that fell on rocky ground and wilted in the sun, seed that fell among thorns and was choked out and, finally, seed that fell on good soil and grew to a miraculous yield; this week we hear of yet one more trial the good seed must overcome; enemy planted weeds.

Just like last week, Jesus explains the parable to his disciples. But, just like last week, if we stop there, only looking at the story and the explanation, we may miss all the other brightly shining facets of the same jewel.

Three years ago, when the same reading came around in the Lectionary, I focused on the sower of the good seed (Jesus), the sower of the bad seed (the devil), the servants who wanted to pull up the weeds at risk of destroying the wheat (you and me), and the professionals who would come at harvest time to separate the wheat from the weeds (the Angels). That sermon concluded with the suggestion that we, who are not professionals in sorting the good from the evil in our world, should leave that job to the pros; (God, Jesus, and the Angels).

Today, let’s look at the perspective I left out of that sermon; you and me as the growing wheat rather than as the servants.

Following the metaphor started in the previous reading we know the wheat represents the word growing in our hearts; collectively growing in the world, that doesn’t change. What does change, in this new perspective, is now that the word has survived the misfortune of landing in bad places and is thriving in good soil (our own hearts) we still need to contend with all the evil in this world that would overtake us, crowd us out, inhibit our yield, or, at the very least, make our lives difficult.


It doesn’t take much looking around to see the weeds among us in this world. Thieves are plentiful, drug dealers are everywhere, the violent inflict their pain indiscriminately, and murderers run rampant in our streets just to name a few of the obvious. These do their harm in disregard to the law of our nation, our states, and our community and impede the growth of the wheat.

But there are also weeds that are not so obvious; those who masquerade as fruit bearing wheat. They do their damage within the boundaries of the law, often pretending to be beneficial to the struggling wheat. Examples of these are the likes of predatory lenders who prey on those struggling to live day-by-day; bankers approving loans they know cannot be repaid then seizing property when the borrower cannot make the payments; the wealthy who threaten expensive to defend legal action to avoid justice. These are not “illegal” but they are “immoral” and they impede the growth of the wheat.

Then, there are the weeds who insult, criticize, and degrade others who don’t look, act, dress or speak the way they think they should. They, too, impede the growth of the wheat.

Sadly, there are even weeds within Christianity itself; those who declare themselves righteous while preaching hate, violence, and condemnation; those who claim to stand for the Gospel while filling their pockets with gifts and leaving the poor to their plight; and those with planks in their own eye, while poking at the spec in their neighbor’s eye. Again, these are just a few more examples of other ways to impede the growth of the wheat.

Even while planted in good soil, and even being blessed with rain and sunshine, sometimes (and I have fallen into this despair myself from time to time) sometimes it’s hard to keep trying; to keep growing, and to keep hope of ever bearing fruit for the sower. And I wonder why God causes “his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45) giving evil the same chance at victory as the good.

Sometimes it would be easy to fall into the temptation of making my life easier, more comfortable, and more financially secure by taking things that are not mine, by preying on the impoverished and downtrodden, and using my ministry to fill my pockets preaching what people want to hear rather than what they need to hear. And sometimes it seems easier to just give up; to lay myself down at the feet of the weeds and allow my decomposing body to become their fertilizer.

But then, then I look around, lift my eyes a little bit higher, peer through all the weeds and see that I am not the only wheat growing in the field; I find that others, just like me, are struggling along, but yet succeeding in putting their roots deep into the good soil and soaking up enough sun and water to stay in the competition to the very end!

Oh, yes, we are growing in a field full of weeds; they’re ugly, hurtful, uncaring, selfish, and predatory. Their goal is to shade us from the sun, suck the water of life from us, and deplete our soil until we starve and then declare victory over the field. The competition is fierce; and we’re fighting with equal assets in the same soil under the same sun and with the same rain.  But we have something the weeds don’t have; we have an edge! We have faith!

 And with faith we can stand up strong and not allow them to bring us down. And as a community of faith growing among the weeds we can encourage, support, and strengthen each other to stay in the struggle against the evil of this world; lifting ourselves, stretching upward toward the source of our life; not giving up hope of ever bearing fruit for the sower but holding fast to the promise that in the day of the harvest we will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of [our] Father”!

Shine on brothers and sisters! Shine on!



Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
13:24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field;
13:25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.
13:26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.
13:27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’
13:28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
13:29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.
13:30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”
13:37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;
13:38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one,
13:39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
13:40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers,
13:42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!


Genesis 28:10-19a
28:10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.
28:11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.
28:12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
28:13 And the LORD stood beside him and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring;
28:14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.
28:15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
28:16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place–and I did not know it!”
28:17 And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
28:18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
28:19a He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.


Psalm 86:11-17
86:11 Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
86:12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
86:13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
86:14 O God, the insolent rise up against me; a band of ruffians seeks my life, and they do not set you before them.
86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
86:16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving girl.
86:17 Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Romans 8:12-25
8:12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh
8:13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
8:15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”
8:16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
8:17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ–if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
8:18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;
8:20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
8:21 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.
8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
8:23 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.
8:24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?
8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.