Sunday, July 17, 2011

On Seeds and Weeds and Worthiness

It's parable a-plenty Sunday in the Episcopal lectionary.   The passage assigned from Matthew includes the parable of the sower who plants good seed, and then in the middle of the night, someone lays down the bad seed (weeds) that then grow up together with the good seed.   The slaves ask the master if they should pull up the weeds, and the Master tells them, "No," because there will be a time in the future when the crop will be harvested and that's when we'll deal with the weeds.  To pull them up now could potentially damage the good seed.   There's also the parable of the mustard seed, a small dot that can grow into a bountiful bush with lots of branches for the birds to make their nests.   And then there is also the story of the Kingdom of Heaven being like a woman making bread and adding yeast to the floor to cause it to leaven. 

Ultimately, though, it is the seed/weed parable that gets the most attention because the disciples ask questions about its meaning. 

"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! --Matt 13: 36b-43
I am listening!  And this parable, to me, speaks to the idea that we ought not try to root out who we think are the "undesirables" because we may be disrupting the good seed in the process.  It also reminds me of the time when my friends had planted an herb garden and were delighting in all that was sprouting up in their front yard.  One day, another friend came along and saw their lemongrass.  She mistook it for a weed and yanked it... and its root system... out of the ground.   And there was definitely some weeping and gnashing of teeth over that!

I see this notion of leaving the weeds alone and letting God do what God does best as a good and powerful thing.  Others may not.  In an unrelated exchange on Facebook this past week, one of my associates made this comment:

Religion is based on self hate really...not being worthy enough. That is why all the "magic" goes into how your (sic) pray, what is your order of worship etc, as if God had a secret path only "those" know.
Certainly some of our prayers would reinforce that idea of lack of worth ("We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs from under thy table...")  And I could see where someone might see some of the words in Scripture as saying, "Hate yourself because you are not worthy enough for the Kingdom."   Been there.  Done that. 

But that isn't how I see the parable about seeds and weeds and what happens when the time comes to separate them.  The "take away" I get from the parable is that I need to pay attention to what I'm doing and how I'm doing in relationship with God instead of looking around to figure out who isn't "the real deal."   There are many a homophobe claiming the mantle of Christ who really ought to be doing the same. 

To hold a belief that I don't have control over who is seed and who is weed has nothing to do with my worth.  In my understanding as I develop this deeper sense of God in my life, I think that I am very worthy.  So worthy that it's freaky.  Surely God has some exceptions that make me unworthy?   There has to be a black out date somewhere? 

No.  There isn't.   I was made worthy from the day that Christ died and rose again from the dead.  That was the exclamation point on the whole matter.  As one baptized into the body of Christ, I am to live as one with God in all of God's manifestation: creator, redeemer, sustainer... the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.   "Worthiness" in the meaning of our prayers is the recognition of how often I will label myself a weed, instead of understanding that even I have a flower blooming from the seed that was planted.

It is a radical idea to live and love as one who is free.  For some gay people, the amount of negativity we've injested from the posers for Christ has made it damn near impossible.  What I offer to all is that the posers are the slaves who would have ripped out the weeds because they thought they knew a weed from lemongrass.   Don't listen to them.  Listen for the voice of the God.  And know you are worthy.  You are loved.  Go live it like you mean it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rev. Annie Thornberg gave the sermon today and told how she used to take long road trips with her family as a child and how she loved see the Kudzu on the side of the road. She found out later that it was a weed and that the South has been trying to eradicate it for years, so she told us to listen for the voice of God and know the difference between the good seed and the weeds in our lives, so I guess her message was much like yours.