“Let both [the wheat and the weeds] 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.'"
Some years ago, I planted a quarter acre of carrots. I don’t know what I was thinking; I was so not ready – nor was the soil – for this crop. By the time the tender carrot shoots emerged, they were already overrun with every weed that field had to offer. I spent dozens of hours weeding, kneeling in the dirt and desperately crying out, “Some people I know are actually having fun this summer!”
Of course, in pulling the weeds, I pretty much ruined whatever carrot crop was likely to emerge; I’d have to know you really well to confess how small that crop ended up being. (Four grain sacks, for which I was paid $92; I know you well enough, I guess)
Matthew’s Gospel tells us this parable of Jesus, in which he says that the kingdom of Heaven is like a field where the farmer planted good seed. “An enemy” sneaked into the field and sowed weed seeds. (If I find the ‘enemy’ that ruined my carrot patch, it will probably be me…) No matter; when the farm workers report this mess to him, he says, “Leave the weeds; you’ll ruin the crop if you try to extract the weeds.” I should have read this parable before ruining my carrots…
Whether the weeds in our communal or personal fields of life arrive by way of an enemy or not, they are present. And Jesus’ parable invites us to consider that we really don’t know the weeds from the good stuff. Oh, of course; sometimes we do. But sometimes we end up not so sure if we look closely.
We’re probably a mix of weeds and wheat when we gather in worship on Sundaymornings; that seems to be the norm in God’s unfinished Creation. Let’s not spend a lot of time worrying about whether the person across the aisle is one or the other; better we make that assessment inside our own hearts.
But I’ll tell you this: that grim summer in the carrot patch, I laid the pulled weeds carefully between the rows and tilled them under in the fall. The next summer, I grew some of the most beautiful cauliflower I’ve ever grown. One day, weeds leave me screaming in anguish; the next season, they are re-shaped as something beautiful and nutritious. Hmmm…
We worship at 10 AM. Weed or wheat – or cauliflower – you are most welcome to grow in the garden with us. We’re workin’ on it.