Seventh Sunday after Pentecost — July 23, 2017
The Weeds and the Wheat
Today’s bulletin cover draws attention to the wheat, but I’m equally aware of the weeds. The parable’s matter-of-fact acknowledgment and response to evil (the weeds) is not to my liking. I want evil to be addressed and eradicated immediately. Jesus’ teaching doesn’t follow this course. On second thought, however, Jesus’ patience also works to my advantage.
Weeds and wheat are intertwined in our souls, hearts, and minds. In Martin Luther’s words, we are both sinner and saint. Or, in the words of the parable, we are both weeds and wheat. With this thought in mind, what message might we take from this story?
One interpretation comes from the Greek word used to direct the servants to “leave/permit/allow” the weeds to remain. The word, aphete, can also be translated as “forgive.” It is the same word used in the petition from the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
In Herrnhut, Germany, the birthplace of the Renewed Moravian Church, there is a memorial stone with dates inscribed upon it. The stone has multiple fissures that disfigure the dates 1933–1945: not weeds growing up through the cracks, but acknowledgment of the evil sown by the Nazis.
Weeds and wheat are present in this memorial stone acknowledging the community’s complicity in a difficult time in Germany’s history. Repentant hearts are aware of the weeds but know there is wheat to be gathered. Words inscribed on the edges of the cracked memorial stone direct our attention to this task: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” May these words also be inscribed upon our hearts.
Gracious God, gather us all.
Craig Troutman, pastor, Raleigh Moravian Church, Raleigh, NC