Sunday, 20 July 2014

5th Sunday of Trinity

Last week we had the parable of the Sower as our gospel reading and this morning another parable is taken from the world of agriculture – the wheat and the tears.

Both parables are about us, the Kingdom of God, the church and both share a number of themes, generosity, growth and Harvest. This mornings parable touches on the question as to why there is evil in the world, in the kingdom of God yes in the church itself? and what should we do about it?

It has not been an easy week has it.
There has been a renewal of violence between Israel and Palestine and a distinct desire for the violence to continue as neither side in this age long argument over land and God’s name refuse to find a peaceful solution to their situation.
Then following hard on the heals of the latest in a long line of child abuse cases we start to hear of rumours of documents siting Politicians, Doctors, teachers and voluntary workers whose evil deeds were allowed to go un challenged for decades.
Then on Thursday the terrible news that a commercial airliner was shot out of the sky killing 298 passengers.

This week we were able to draw small comfort in the fact that the Synod of the Church of England has at last after decades of arguing agreed that God does call both men and women into the work of his kingdom, as deacons priests and bishops to lend a hand in the task of sowing the seed and growing the church.

What do we do when we see that evil flourishes in God’s beautiful and generous creation?

Verse 30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest;” - leave it to me says Jesus and wait for the time that has been set for the harvest.

This is hard. It is hard to wait . it is hard to leave it to God to sort out . It is not right or fair it offends our sense of justice and a Loving God.

But the instruction in the parable to the workers who see evil flourish along side the good is not an injunction to do nothing.

There are some parts of the Church of England who now think that the word evil should be abandoned from the baptism liturgy. I am not sure why when it is clear to everyone, and especially those outside the church, what evil looks like and feels like. So pretending it does not exist ,wishing it does not exist is not what we are called to do in this parable. There is no doubt in the minds of the Master of the parable as to how the weeds have got in and amongst the wheat “An enemy has done this.”. nor it is the case that only the master sees the situation for what it is, the farm workers, the slaves, clearly identify the reality and growth of evil in direct contradiction to their own work and effort.

Verse 30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest;” - leave it to me says Jesus and wait for the time that has been set for the harvest.

It's hard to wait.  And it's hard to understand - especially when
we see such terrible things happening; but when it comes to
dealing with those around us both in the church and out of it. The parable tells us what we are to do in the face of this evil – to plant and not to pluck, and wait for the harvest time in which the Master will give the command for both wheat and tear to be taken up.

We are to resist evil of course  - in ourselves and in others -
through his power.

We are called to recognize evil and to name it - and to pray to
God that he will take care of it, much as the farmer told his
servants in the parable that  he would take of it.

Importantly we are told to do good instead of evil
   - to bless instead of curse
   - to praise instead of criticize
    - to forgive instead of resent
   - to tell truth instead of lies.
- to help instead of walk away
   - to love instead of hate

It seems that there is a plan, that God does have a system,
but still - when you look at it with only the dim light of human
wisdom, or the closed eyes of human doubt and human pride,
there is almost no explaining why God allows the devil to cast
his evil seed in his garden..

Verse 30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest;” - leave it to me says Jesus and wait for the time that has been set for the harvest.

This does not mean that we do nothing.
So what do we do?
Maybe instead of trying to weed out the evil in the world we should dedicate our lives to full-heartedly nourishing the good.

After all when confronted with darkness we can denounce it and we can curse it but the darkness will remain. It is by lighting one small candle that the darkness will be diminished.

Evil fades in the presence of goodness.
When we feel affirmed enough in our good points, our bad points will go into remission.

We need to remind ourselves that we live in a very imperfect world and our frustrations and powerlessness generally stem from our inflated expectations. Perfection is not part of human nature – imperfections are.

We can be assured that with all our imperfections God still finds us lovable, and if God finds us, in our weakness, in our imperfection, lovable then should we not accept one another and ourselves in the same way?

And in accepting one another, both weed and wheat, we can place the future in the hands of God by faith declaring, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”

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