URC Daily Devotion Friday 17 February 2023 John Ellis,

Friday 17 February 2023
St Matthew 13: 24 – 43

 

He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.

So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 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?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 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.”’ He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’ Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing.  This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’

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.’  He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.  Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Reflection

If there are weeds in the rough patch of grass behind the garage, I don’t really mind. If any dared spoil the flower bed at the front, that would be a different matter entirely. If the “weeds” spoiling our church, our community or our country really niggle us, that is a good sign. It shows we care.

The understandable urge to purge the Church of such corruption has so often made the Church seem miserably censorious, the community whose favourite phrase is “Thou shalt not”. Even more importantly, Jesus warns us that our confidence that we can spot the weeds is misplaced. God knows, but us pretending to be God is idolatry. When my employer had “Judgement” as one of the qualities on which staff were assessed in their performance reviews, we had debates about how you define good judgement objectively: too easily it collapses to “Do they agree with me?”

This passage however gives little succour to those who assume that if I feel passionately enough about something I must be on the side of justice, truly prophetic. My feelings are not the benchmark. There are some absolute rights and wrongs that God will fully reveal when ready. Meanwhile, aware we cannot be sure which of a mixed group of seeds will grow into pathetic little weeds and which will grow into magnificent great trees, we need to stay humble in our judgements.    

These three parables all feature the need to wait patiently. If we become the people who can handle that, we will certainly be Nonconformist with the surrounding culture. We might also make the Church a place where more people can grow to be what God intended. We might also have something notable to offer to social media and the public discourse. At the last Harvest, we might even turn out to be wheat.     

Prayer

Dear God

My church is such an odd bunch. Not one of them is quite like me. You know those who irritate, fuss about the wrong things, trivialise what feeds me.

Thank you for the opportunity to practise patience. Help me see all your children as equally precious. Help me celebrate strengths. Help me realise I can’t always be right.

Then rewrite my prayers so that I never talk of “my” church but Yours.

Amen        

 
 

 

Today’s writer

John Ellis, Area Leader for the West Kent and East Sussex Synod Area

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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