Sunday, July 20, 2008

dancing with weeds

Today's Gospel was another agricultural parable... (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) We had one last week too. Last week's was about the idiot sower who tossed his seeds every which way and only a portion landed in the field. The rest ended up in the rocks, on the gravel, in the bushes with the thorns. Our celebrant last week explained the agricultural inconsistencies with the concept that God will not fit into our preconceived tiny, safe, careful or frugal opinions... nor of our misguided beliefs that there is only so much grace and glory to go around, so we'd better place rules and restrictions on its distribution. God breaks all the rules we make for Him/Her in our efforts to understand.

Today the Gospel is about the sower who plants wheat (this time in the field) only to discover someone else has also planted tares (weeds) and now they're growing up together. "Should we weed the garden?" his laborers ask. " Nah... Just let them grow up together and when it's time for the harvest, sort them out."

I'll admit I know just enough about gardening to be dangerous, but in our little plot out back I'm weeding all the time. Doesn't seem to bother the flowers and herbs at all. So what's with waiting until the harvest?

I was blessed again today to go out for church and the preacher explained things a whole lot better by going back to the King James language: Tares. While most of us think weed of the common vetch variety, there was a specific plant called the bearded darnel which looked almost exactly like wheat throughout the growing stages, and produced seeds which were poisonous. That at least makes sense of the no-weeding-edict.

But he went on to elaborate, and came to many of the same conclusions that I heard last week. First of all, he set aside the entire second half of the Gospel... the part where Matthew has Jesus (supposedly) explain this parable for the disciples... that the angels will come and sort us all out at the end of time and the good folk will all get gathered into the barn and the bad folk will all go off to burn in hell. His take on the second half was that this interpretation was just one more of our own human projections... just another attempt to put God in the scarcity box... another way to keep score.

And Jesus was not one to keep score. At least not in this sermon. No, the focus was on enjoying the Kingdom of God which is at hand, the one Jesus spoke about as a reality now.

And who belongs in this Kingdom? Who gets to enjoy it? Who qualifies?
Anybody. Anybody who loves as they have been loved. Anybody who loves as they want to be loved.

As an aside, the music today was from Missa Luba, a Congolese Mass, arranged by Guido Haazen. As the opening strains of the Kyrie soared up into the dome above our heads, my body swayed with an inner urge to dance. Of course I didn't. I'm a nun and an Episcopalian... we don't normally dance in church.

As part of his sermon, our preacher talked about re-education as unlearning or discarding much of the stuff we learned in our childhoods. He also mentioned that the world could be made up of two kinds of people: those who are dancing and those who are complaining about the dance. I'd add a third... those who aren't dancing but wish they could.

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