Sermon: Sunday, July 23, 2017

Weeds or Wheat?

The Rev. Lisa Fry

I have it on good authority that squash plants and weeds look very similar when they first come up out of the ground. Actually, I’ve heard that ANYTHING and weeds look similar when they first come up out of the ground.

Many people have trouble distinguishing weeds from “real” plants.

They’re both green, they both grow. When I lived in Phoenix I once had a neighbor stand and look at my lawn and comment that I really should do something about the weeds. Truth be told—his grass and my weeds looked very similar. This was the desert after all.

I smiled and responded with: “Well my feeling is that if it’s green and it grows, it can stay in my lawn.”  He did not look amused.

But sometimes, isn’t the difference between a weed and a “real” plant determined by the one who is doing the looking?

Dent de lion. Anyone know what that is? It means Teeth of the Lion in French, and it is a plant that was brought over as a beautiful perennial flower from Europe. We perhaps know it better as a dandelion. Dent de lion. A weed to most: that terrible scourge of the lawn police, subject to pulling up, spraying with chemicals– AND an endless source of fun to children everywhere, especially when they go to seed.

It also makes good wine, can be eaten as a green, and the root makes fantastic tea that is high in vitamin D and other beneficial qualities.

Weed or “real” plant? Sometimes I think we humans are the worst possible beings to make that assessment.  What is a weed today is a life giving miracle plant tomorrow. And vice versa.

“Let both of them grow together until the harvest,” God says.  Good advice.

The Gardener knows that the weeds and wheat need to grow side by side until one is clearly distinguishable from the other. Then– and only then– can the weeds be pulled.

We can see that this may be true about the world at large. Who really knows who is ‘weed’ and who is ‘wheat?’ We may think we see into the hearts of people, but I’m pretty sure we don’t. I’ve always thought that it was a treacherous business– judging others. I mean— as we listened to this parable–how many of us put ourselves into this parable as a weed? Do you really see yourself as something only worthy of being burned? I doubt it.

But I’m also pretty sure we know of others who we think are most definitely weeds.

Or do we? Just one word: dandelions.

So let’s step away from judging the worthiness of the rest of the plant kingdom.

Let’s look at this from another direction.

Let’s look inside ourselves. Are there parts of us that are really flourishing—nourishing us and growing tall and green. And – are there any weeds inside of us– parts that need to go, that need to be culled– the parts of us that need to be rooted up– thrown away—burned in purifying fire– the parts that don’t serve us well anymore. We all have them.

What are your weeds? Are there some “should’s” that need to go?  How about some “You’ll never…” Personally I seem to plagued by “if only…” We each have our own weeds.

Some weeds were sown in us by ourselves, some by others– and often with the best of intentions. Some weeds are just an irritation.  Others perhaps really interfere with our growth. Sometimes our weeds have wounded us in ways that need to heal a bit more before we can let God pull them out.

But there are parts of ourselves that are so familiar, so much a part of us that we feel disloyal and guilty throwing it away.

We keep them because we feel duty bound to do so– even though they cause us pain, stop our growth. Maybe God knows this, and will assist us with rooting out the damaging weeds within us, but only when we are ready—fully mature.

God knows there’s far more inside us than weeds, but sometimes I think we often focus more on our weeds– than the amazing wheat that is the biggest part of us.

In the book of Isaiah, God says, “You are precious in my sight and honored, and I love you.”

As a parent, I see the great love and gifts and worth in my daughter – the wheat within her, if you will. I also see some weeds. But from my perspective her weeds are negligible– perhaps enough to keep her honest, but not enough to mar the healthy crop of wheat I see there.  And I make sure — when she gets stuck in the weeds, to try and dig around her, give her some air and some fertilizer, and then remind her of what I see in her.

God does that with us.

He reminds us that the difference between a weed and wheat is many times determined by the one who is doing the looking. I am very glad that the one doing the looking is God, not us..

God reminds us that though weeds and wheat often grow together in us, side by side—he will do the culling, and will finally burn away everything that keeps us from loving him, loving each other, and loving ourselves.

Amen.