Bible Readings: Romans 8.12-25 and <span style="font-size: 1rem;">Matthew 13.24-30,36-43</span>
Our first reading today from Romans picks up exactly from where we were last week, speaking about Hope.
Hope which always has its eye to the future, the hope of our faith is now (real and lived) whilst at the same time being not yet (not fully realised) and verse 25 of Romans 8 has that wonderful sentence ‘if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience’ (that may be somewhat aspirational for me but I am working on the waiting with patience thing!)
Today though it’s the Gospel reading that captured my imagination, I love the fact that Jesus preaches in story form, parables speak of the hope that our Romans reading spoke about, and this Gospel passage from Matthew 13 is a story about the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is often referred to as ‘now but not yet’ this Kingdom exists now but won’t be fully realised until the end of time. It’s a messy kind of Kingdom, not separate from this world that we simply wait for but present in the world with all its chaos, this is a Kingdom that changes our present as well as giving us hope for the future.
Today’s parable begins to open up some of that for us, the world has the goodness of the Kingdom (wheat) and the evil, the opposite, growing alongside (weeds). The servants, I have to say, are something like me – they are keen to tidy it up, to make it all ok. I don’t think I’m alone, I was in a primary school for the year 6 leavers at the end of term and as I stood (more than 2m away) they had some time to ask questions, one of which was connected to the story of Lazarus death and why Jesus let him die, we talked together about how so often as people we want to make everything ok and stop any bad thing from happening, yet that’s not how God seems to behave.
In today’s parable we see that writ large, shall we pull up the weeds? No leave them both to grow together until Harvest. That means the messiness of both in the same place will continue.
We only have to look around and see this clearly reflects the messiness of our world, Good and Evil (great story telling opposites) present together in every corner of our world, this mixture of opposites is very much the way the world is.
It’s easy to read this as the Wheat being the ‘good people’ and the weeds the ‘bad people’ but I’m more than aware there is the capability for good and bad in all of us.
To be fair Jesus explanation (v 36) leans in that direction ‘Wheat – are the children of the kingdom’ and ‘Weeds – are the children of the Evil One’ It feels very ‘them and us’ and of course we are all the children of the Kingdom. Yet in the explanation Jesus says something very interesting,
“the Son of Man will send out his angels to gather up out of his Kingdom all those who cause people to sin and all others who do evil things”
How fascinating that the first thing Jesus identifies is those ‘who cause people to sin’ those whose behaviour affects others – and we have no further explanation. We don’t know what this means in detail. Yet it is clear that our relationship with one another, the communities to which we belong matter, we are not isolated individuals but rather a community of people living in the messiness of the world as it is.
With all that is happening in our world right now it feels important to me to remember that sense of community and belonging which is inherent in the way God made us, we are not made for isolation but for one another.
In God’s Kingdom the rules are different too, it is God who judges and decides how things are, I am grateful it is not down to me to separate the weeds from the wheat (which is not always very easy to do) and I notice that even the weeds have a use, traditionally they were burned, used for fuel, so even that which is not meant to be there, in the generosity of God is used for some good. Like my favourite hymn ‘There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy’ God lives amongst us in the mess, God’s judgement is kindly, God’s Love has a greater reach than we can ever imagine.
In our world there are signs of God at work (Wheat) and signs of evil (weeds) but our role is to live as if we were the wheat and to lead others to experience the love of God who is present with us through difficulties and Joy. The question for today is ‘how’, how are we living as people of God’s Kingdom in the messiness of the field that grows together?