Matthew 13:24-30 (Inclusive Text)
Jesus put a parable before the crowds:
The reign of God may be compared to a sower who sowed good seed in a field.
While everybody was asleep an enemy came,
sowed weeds all among the wheat, and made off.
When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the weed appeared as well.
The owner’s servants came and said:
‘Was it not good seed that you sowed in your field?
If so, where does the weed come from?’
‘Some enemy has done this’, the owner answered.
And the servants said:
‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’
No, because when you pull out the darnel
you might pull up the wheat with it.
Let them both grow until the harvest.
And at harvest time I will tell the reapers:
‘First collect the weeds and tie it in bundles to be burnt,
then gather the wheat into my barn’.
This week’s lectionary text presents a pretty potent botanical analogy. And a reminder that Jesus was a naturalist.
The bearded darnel is likely the “weed” in question. The darnel penetrates and interweaves around the root ball of other plants and sucks up nutrients and scarce water, thus making it impossible to remove without damaging the other plant. Even more confusing, above ground the darnel looks identical to wheat, until it bears seed.
This passage provides me with a new favorite image for God: as holy seed propagator. Clearly this is a rare and life-giving skill. Who among us knows how to propagate and collect seed of any sort? Much less who could identify plants with such a subtle set of distinguishing characteristics?
Yet too often we are eager to play the part of labeling good and bad, in and out, right and wrong. But ultimately that kind of judgement does not belong to us. Leave it up to the one described in the passage as “the sower” who is comfortable letting the plants grow to maturity and then sorting out the nourishing from the destructive seeds.
I’ve been thinking about church lately—meditating on what makes it a space of both beauty and tragic shadow sides. The people in it, of course. When you couple the wheat and weed within each one of us with a holy and essential quest for “matters of ultimate concern” it is no wonder that we end up lost more often than found.
Truthfully, one has to employ nondualistic thinking to abide in the complexity of the church. Especially in a time when the very definitions of church are so on the move. A non-dual way of seeing is what the mystics meant when they used the word “prayer.” It is the cultivation of a capacity to receive reality, rather than to immediately classify each component as “good” or “bad” or “right” or “wrong.”
This allows us to acknowledge that people can be both high-maintenance and lovely. (including, of course, ourselves). And that communities can contain within both extreme beauty and toxic moments or patterns. And this acknowledgement, in that it is a recognition of What Really Is, can be the foundation for choices which create more space for God.
In short, we live our lives of faith, especially lives of faith in community, in a liminal zone. And if as a church we can talk about what it means to live in the “in between” space and get clear on the practices that keep us centered—we will be healthier and more open to God’s nourishment, and thus able to grow and bear the crop which God has planted in our little plot of soil.
There are a couple of conferences which I am a part of which connect us to a broader emerging conversation about these topics.
The first is Liminal Christianity: The Sacred Place in Between which will be held on August 13 in Fort Worth. It is a mid-year follow-up to the conference held at Brite last year with keynote Richard Rohr (whose book the Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See informs much of what I’ve shared here on nondual thinking.)
And mark your calendars for a special experiential conference in Dallas on Sept 30th-October 1st called The Four Cornerstones of Emerging Christianity: Spiritual Disciples (which I am co-leading), Church Community, Social Justice and the Historical Jesus. Brochures available at church and online registration will be up soon.
Living with both the weeds and the wheat doesn’t mean that we have no boundaries or limits. But it does require that we make peace with the holy ambiguity that is the life of the church. This frees us up to do our part to water the seeds of nonviolence, of love, of peace, of attentiveness to the created world within ourselves and our community.
I look forward to talking with you all more about this passage on Sunday.
Joy and all the good,
I am indebted to commentaries drawn from Feasting on the Word for today’s reflection.
We held our second community visioning meeting June 23rd at the home of Luis and Catalina who blessed us with home grilled burgers and beer. (Thanks so much for hosting!) Attendance continues to be small but enthusiastic. We greatly appreciate everyone who has come out to help shape the future vision of our church. However, we would sure love to hear more voices. Following is a brief recap of our evening with the hopes of tempting you into joining us for the next.
Nearly half the people in attendance last week are on the music team, so we decided to start brainstorming around music. (FYI – if you are interested in contributing to the conversation around music, please know there will be another opportunity to do so.) There is an awareness that we need to find a way to make newcomers feel more welcome to participate in the music worship team. One suggestion was to hold an open call for new musicians every 2-3 months allowing an opportunity for a longer rehearsal than is typically held on Sunday mornings. Some people expressed interest in holding a hymn sing, and for including the choir in worship more often. It was also suggested we hold “Las Posada”. If you are like me and have never heard of “Las Posada”, look it up on the web – sounds like a lot of fun.
The majority of our conversation centered around a completely fresh idea. This is what I love about visioning. You put a group of random folks together, start tossing around ideas, and something amazing and unexpected is likely to jump out! I believe it started when someone said he’d like to learn to play guitar. The ideas began to fly around the room, and the next thing we knew we had a plan to offer a twice monthly group guitar lesson followed by a slow jam at the Kessler. I love this idea for a whole lot of reasons. For starters, I just bought my first guitar. But more importantly for this community, this idea reaches beyond our desire for music in church. This idea for a slow jam reaches out to the greater Oak Cliff community, giving back while also inviting folks in to meet us. I do believe we could become the first church to use slow jam as a form of public identity and outreach. And how appropriate to attract more musicians to our community considering we meet in the coolest music venue in town!
Okay, so clearly I’m excited! But have I tempted you yet? Sure hope so! Our next visioning meeting will be held on Thursday July 28th in the home of Teri Walker.339 S.Montclair 75208 . We will begin to gather at 6:30pm, with the meeting to take place from 7-9pm. Teri is cooking dinner, all you do is bring drinks or dessert to share and show up!
Please put this meeting on your calendar and plan on joining us to help envision our future church. I look forward to seeing you there. If you have questions regarding church visioning, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Stephanie Maxson, Trustee
Matthew 13:24-30 (Inclusive Text)