Year A Proper 11 Matthew 13 2011
Pulling Weeds
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Last week we talked about planting seeds. This week we're talking about pulling weeds. The two go together. Every gardener knows that planting seeds is the easy part of having a successful garden. It is much more time consuming to weed that same garden. And it's hard work. As someone has said: "When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant."

There is a corollary to that truth: "To distinguish flowers from weeds, simply pull up everything. What grows back is weeds."

Some of you can relate to one unknown homemaker who wrote: I don't do windows because . . . I love birds and don't want one to run into a clean window and get hurt. I don't wax floors because . . . I am terrified a guest will slip and get hurt then I'll feel terrible (plus they may sue me.)I don't disturb cobwebs because . . . I want every creature to have a home of their own. I don't Spring Clean because . . . I love all the seasons and don't want the others to get jealous. I don't put things away because . . . my husband will never be able to find them again. I don't do gourmet meals when I entertain because . . . I don't want my guests to stress out over what to make when they invite me over for dinner. I don't iron because . . . I choose to believe them when they say "Permanent Press." And finally: I don't pull weeds in the garden because . . . I don't want to get in God's way, He is an excellent designer!

I doubt than anyone likes pulling weeds, including God. In today's lesson Jesus tells a parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'

"'An enemy did this,' he replied.

"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

Then Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."

Jesus answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

On its surface, there is not much to be said about this parable except make sure you're not a weed...

  1. Pulling Weeds Is an Important Part of a Successful Life.
  2. God Is Our Savior.
  3. God Wants to Save Us from Sin.

Why Are You Acting Like Orphans?
Romans 8:12-25

There comes a time in every child's life when he or she entertains two possibilities. One: your parents are from Mars. Two, you must have been adopted. Usually these revelations occur in tandem . . . after a huge fight with Mom and/or Dad; or after a sibling beats us up or puts us down. It dawns on us that no way could we really be related to such mean, bossy, completely opposite people.

We must be adopted.

Remember when adoption was a highly confidential, even secretive, process? That made it a great source for childhood fantasies. "Closed adoptions" were the norm from the 1920s through the 1960s. The birth mother didn't know and couldn't know who the adoptive parents were. The adoptive parents didn't know who the birth mother was. The adopted child didn't know anything — especially if their adoptive parents chose not to tell them. Even if they were adopted.

In the 1970s, the legalities behind adoptions began to change. A massive shift toward what are now called "open adoptions" took place. In open adoptions all the parties know who they are dealing with. And at least hypothetically, there is the possibility for communication and connection at some later time.

As with every other social scenario in the last ten years, science and technology have changed everything. Nobody respects a "legal screen." Nobody has to live with no information about their past. The advent of Facebook has allowed thousands of birth parents and adopted children of all ages to search for and connect with their families of origin. The birth of DNA testing enables uncertainty to be eliminated.

In fact, almost all officials in the hierarchies of state and federal adoption laws admit the same thing: "the jig is up." Adoption information and biological identities are no longer capable of being protected in any way, shape or form. For some adopted children and for some biological parents this is a great advance. For others, it is hard knocks and heartbreak.

Almost all ancient religions and cultures had legal means whereby orphaned or abandoned children could be legally incorporated into a new family. Both the law-loving environments of first century Judaism and the Roman empire had a laundry list of adoption laws, policies, rights, and regulations. Whether it was done for economic, political, or emotional reasons, in the world Paul inhabited, "adoption" was a well legislated procedure.

So when Paul used the language of "adoption" to describe the startling, new relationship enjoyed by followers of Jesus, he was speaking to an educated audience... presents Leonard Sweet