19th July Reflection - Rev Janet Gasper
Yesterday was our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Because we were in lockdown, we were unable to celebrate in the way we had planned with a service in church and a party shared with family and friends from our years together. We rather selfishly felt very disappointed, but we know that God continually blesses our relationship, our time together and our wonderful family.
We are all aware of selfishness running alongside compassion in our hearts and because of this awareness we know that there will be tension and conflict in communities and in our world. We live with imperfections and sinfulness but we believe in a God whose love is steadfast and unchanging. For Christians, the assurance of God’s presence with us in all the situations of life, comes in the person of Jesus. Our Gospel reading for today is a story Jesus told about the development of God’s kingdom.
The story is only found in Matthew’s gospel and perhaps reflects the difficult times his fellowship was facing. Known as The Parable of the Weeds, the story indicates that even in a Christian community there can be selfishness, but it may not be a good idea to be too hasty in judging who is falling short.
The weed in the story is ‘darnel’, a plant indistinguishable from wheat in the early stages of its growth. So, if the farmer starts trying to pull it out, he risks destroying some of the wheat and leaving behind the darnel. The advice is to let both grow together until the harvest and then the wheat can be harvested and the darnel burned.
The message for the church from this story is that as Christians we have to live with good and bad and look for potential. There is a danger of thinking of ourselves as safely inside the ark, but this story challenges any such complacency. Many things surround us that act like the weeds in the story, preventing us from growing in our love of God and neighbour, but it is God and God alone who will determine the time of harvest and sort it all out.
People respond to the Gospel in many different ways, with different levels of commitment. Throughout Christian history there has been tension between those advocating rigid discipline and policies to keep the church ‘pure’ and those who take a more open view and believe the judgement of the sincerity of church members belongs to God. Jesus is saying we have to live with a church that includes people we don’t agree with and the church must interpret the gospel for its generation.
I know I am part of a world wide church which has the courage and honesty to face issues that affect the whole of humanity – issues of authority, discipline, ecology, sexuality, gender and race and I give thanks for a God whose love looks into our hearts and sees us for who we are in his sight.