Friday, July 11, 2008

Trusting the Process of God's Grace

This week's scriptures are Genesis 25: 1-18 and Matthew 13: 24-30.

In this section of Matthew, Jesus tells three parables back to back that he prefaces with the phrase "the Kingdom of heaven is like..." They are about tiny seeds that grow into large plants; yeast in bread dough; and weeds in the wheat field.

These parables are, in part, about the paradox of the Kingdom of God. About the fact that small things make great differences and that it is in the tinest of moments or actions that great things are held.

But the lead off to this is this pecular parable about the weeds and the wheat. Now most of you who garden weed on a regular basis. I hear folks talking about tending their flowers nearly every Sunday. So it seems a bit strange that the farmer in the story tells his workers NOT to weed for fear they will pull up some wheat by mistake. The farmer would rather risk the weeds (for now) than lose the wheat. Though the story ends with the idea that the weeds will finally be culled out, this is a story of patience and grace and trust. Of a desire to let the process of growth and life do their work and make sure that we can tell the difference between weeds and wheat before we go to yanking things out of the earth.

When followed by the two stories of small things...mustard seeds and yeast...I can't help but wonder if part of what Jesus was getting at was that little things can turn the tide; the power of the smallest act-"the cup of cold water" that we talked about a couple of weeks ago-to transform not only the moment, but the larger picture as well.

How many times in your own experience, or in your knowledge of history, has someone been written off as a "weed" only to be transformed by the process of life and grace-or by some "cup of cold water" into a life of "wheat"?

Have you ever felt written off yourself as a "weed" only to find renewal and hope in someone's "cup of cold water" held out to you?

Do you look at your own life and see lots of "weeds" and little "wheat"?

These parables tell us that our lives, and in fact, the universe, turn on small things. And that God is patient with the process. God is not so quick to go 'weeding', but rather seeks to 'draw straight with our crooked lines' by the use of the small things...the pebble that turns the stream.

Please don't mistake my faith for naivety. We make mistakes...huge mistakes. We sin. And there is evil in the world. Huge clouds of evil in which violence is done, humans are trafficed, and innocents tortured and killed. I know this and we have responsibilities to face and respond to it.

But we respond in faith. Faith that God will have the last word. That the final act does not belong to evil and that the small actions you and I take today can turn the stream, raise the loaf, or grow into a place where others may find shelter.

We'll explore some of this on Sunday in relation to Isaac and Ishmael and the Issac's and Ishmael's in our lives.

For now, I'm off to go camping. Car is packed; the dog is ready; and Carole is waiting.

Hope to see you Sunday.

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