Our July 19 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. Our social spacing seating arrangement assures minimal risk. Due to technical difficulties, the service is shown in two parts. Click on the two pictures in order below.
The July 26 worship service will be held at 9 am on our church lawn with members and friends in attendance. Bring a lawn chair. In case of rain, we will move inside. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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Sermon, July 19
Isaiah 44:6-8 | Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25 | Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
I, like many of you, have a garden. I like to see the flowers come up, as well as the herbs and vegetables. But, there is that phenomenon, besides squirrels, where you plant something. You watch to see when it sprouts. It does, along with a couple of other things. And you aren’t sure which are the weeds and which ones are what you planted. This is especially true when the plants are small. The only thing to do really, is wait until they get bigger, and are easier to identify. You don’t want to tear up what you planted, the squirrels will do that for you! However, I’ve also learned, at least in my garden that the weeds grow faster, and heartier, than what I planted and wanted to grow. I think that it’s part of Murphy’s Law – the worst will happen at the worst possible time. I do have a solution to a section of my garden this year. It’s called the lawn mower. That will take care of the whole issue.
Today’s Gospel lesson is usually called, “The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares,” or sometimes, it is just called “the Parable of the Weeds.” So, when we hear this text, most of us ask ourselves some questions, like “What is a Tare?” or “So what if there are dandelions in a wheat field? What does that have to do with religion?” Actually, the lesson today is quite a bit deeper than would appear on the surface, and it shows that once again, Jesus knew an awful lot about agriculture. The weeds he describes in the parable aren’t dandelions; that would be too easy. Jesus, in the Greek names a specific plant. They are tares, but, virtually no one calls this plant “tares” anymore. Remember, languages change over time. This one has had 2,000 years to change. Although, I think that tare is a good name for it in English. You want to tear it out!
The weed in question is more commonly now called “Darnel.” And it is a member of the rye family. It is also sometimes called “Cockle.” The problem with this particular plant is that as it grows, it looks almost identical to wheat. Wheat and rye can look very similar – for a while. You can’t really tell them apart until the head of grain develops, then darnel’s head is black. The other problem with darnel is that it is toxic, and too much of it can kill a person. My favorite name for this plant isn’t darnel nor cockle, it is its French name “ivraie,” which if you speak French, you know that ivraie means “drunk.” Drunk, because if you accidently eat a little bit of it, you start acting as if you are drunk, intoxicated. Eat more of it, and you die. It is probably one of the members of the rye family which can get ergot, a fungus which can cause these symptoms. Another problem with this plant, which shows us that Jesus knew his agriculture, and picked this illustration carefully, is that it tends to tear up the roots of wheat. That is why the farmer in the story says to his workers, “Don’t pull them out.” It would pull out the wheat as well. That is your agriculture lesson for today. But, that is not what Jesus is really talking about.
Jesus is really talking about the pervasiveness of wickedness and evil. Some scholars have argued that this parable was aimed at Judas Iscariot, and why Jesus didn’t kick him out. That Jesus was afraid others might follow Judas in leaving. I, personally, doubt that one very much. I think Jesus was looking at a much broader scale, like the whole world, or the whole Church. After all, Jesus tells this parable to the crowds, but he explains it to the disciples. And Judas would have been present when Jesus explained this parable.
There is the old adage that, “You have to take the good with the bad.” We all learn that one as we get older. We are surrounded by evil. Wickedness is everywhere. But, we are also surrounded by the good. Good is also everywhere. Sometimes, and this is the problem with the human situation, sometimes, we can’t tell them apart. Actually, we can tell them apart, but that is usually in hindsight. When we are in the midst of things, then it can be quite difficult to tell the good from the bad. And, as Jesus says in the parable, when you try to root out evil, you may root out the good as well. Often, as Jesus alludes in the story, the best course is to wait, literally until things come to a head, and then you can tell the difference by the fruit that they bear.
There is another way of looking at this parable, of course. Jesus’ stories are always much deeper when you delve into them than would appear on the surface. The wheat and the weeds/tares/darnel, the good and the bad, may also well apply to us as individuals. We don’t like to see it that way, but we do believe that we are “at the same time saints and sinners,” “Simul iustus et peccatur. “ That is the Christian situation. We are both good and bad. Because of baptism and our faith in Christ, we believe that the guilt of our sins is washed away. But, the part of that which we don’t like to remember is that the sin remains. It is in our flesh (that is what Paul is arguing about in the epistle text today). We are still sinners. But we hope and pray that we are forgiven sinners. Why do you think we begin the worship service with a Rite of Confession and Forgiveness? We recognize that we are capable of wickedness. We call that sin. In fact, we believe that we can’t help it. It is hardwired into us. But, we believe all the more firmly that Christ recognizes that, and forgives those who have faith in him. We believe that the sin in us, like the darnel, is toxic to us, and leads to death. But, through this parable, Jesus teaches that in the end it will be removed from us. And we shall be part of the Lord’s harvest, the wheat, taken into his kingdom in the end. There we shall share in the forgiveness of sins, everlasting salvation through Christ, and eternal life with God in heaven, where all is good for it is the home of God.