#TEND – Together we Encourage and Nurture Disciples

A reading from the word of written in Gospel according to
Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” The Word of the Lord.

In our reading from this past Sunday, we are told that the owner of a farm planted good seed on his land, but that a wicked adversary went behind his back and planted weeds overnight. How cruel we might say.

Of course, the two are later discovered by the owner’s servants – they are prepared to do the necessary to rid the good land of the unwanted plants.

But the owner stops them. Leave the wheat and the weeds he counsels. Allow the two to grow to the time of harvest – when they will be separated – the good to be kept, the bad to be thrown into the flames.

This parable’ accompanying explanation identifies all the characters for us, which is useful, because we know who we want to identify with – surely we want to be ‘good seed’ in any play for this text.

But as we get prepared to audition – can we imagine the director asking us – why we think we fit the part – as good seed, the wheat rather than the tares?

For you and I were indeed made in God’s image and likeness and declared good, but somewhere along the way, we have all fallen away from God’s desire for us.

We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

It is easy to compare ourselves to the unwanted weeds of this world and to overlook our personal sin. We say – at least I am not a murderer, or a thief, while failing to seek forgiveness for our actual misdeeds. We do not recall how we spoke in anger, how we treated someone ungraciously, how we undermined others in an effort to get ahead.

Oh, those are not a big deal we say – but we must ask ourselves – what is the standard by which we measure ourselves. Is it the world’s standard where everything goes – or is it God’s standard where we act out of love toward each other. Where we seek the best for each other and so refrain from hurting each other.

Like all seed – we start with the potential of being God’s good and perfect children – But we are human, as we grow we all fall short at some time.

We grow a little weedy, unkempt, and crooked. Sometimes we overpower our neighbours preventing them from accomplishing their potential. Sometimes we hurt them with the thorns that accompany our words and actions.

We need a gardener to tend us. To prune us back, to shape our crown and fertilize our roots.

God does that each time that we repent, and turn away from our own way and seek God anew. God forgives and restores us to wholeness.

God instructs us through the parable, that as we have been given the mercy of forgiveness and reconciliation and brought back from our weedy state so too should we extend the same grace to those who fall short within the church and the wider world.

The church is cautioned against trying to achieve a ‘pure’ state in which there are no sinners. If we are honest with ourselves – very few of us would qualify for entry.

Rather than seeking to cut off sinners and cast them out after passing judgment on them, our role as the church is that of the community of forgiveness and restoration.

We are to become the place where we tend and nurture each other with respect and dignity. A place where our wounds can heal, where our bad decisions can be reordered, where we find encouragement and welcome among friends and treated as family.

And we must model this for the wider world, helping to pick up our fallen brothers and sisters every single time. We must never give up on each other as we forgive as we have been forgiven.

May we who have been blessed with God’s redeeming grace seek to tend – to encourage and nurture our fellow disciples as we continue to grow together in God’s Kingdom, here on earth. Amen.

Let us Pray

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of His redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of His most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Contributed by Rev Natalie Blake