Wayne A. Strohschein, pastor July 23, 7th Sunday after Pentecost
We ask: why is there evil in the world? It is an age-old question. Who of us have not asked the question. We see the conflict of good and evil every day in the news. We see the conflict every day in ourselves as we struggle to do the good, the right and yet find ourselves doing what is wrong. We are well aware of our sinfulness. Today’s gospel parable of wheat and weeds begins to answer that age old question and even though we know the answer we still ask why does there have to be evil? Why, if God is truly the all-powerful, omnipotent God does He allow sin to exist? In the parable of the wheat and the weeds Jesus suggests that both grow together until the harvest. That day is not now. It is the day to come when God will fulfill His promises. Weeds and wheat is not just about the fields of the earth. We too have both weeds and wheat within us. We are led to believe the day of promise will also come for us. In the meantime we have to ask, in what do we place our hope. Do we place our hope in the promises of the evil one or do we humbly place our hope in the promises of God? The parable itself, asks us to focus not on the final judgment day that is to come but on the here and now days in which we live, in which wheat and weeds coexist. “Let both of them grow together until the harvest,” the householder says. Sometimes in a flurry of overconfidence, we imagine we can cleanse the field, and then are surprised when weeds keep showing up. This is the gem of the story. We cannot save ourselves, only God can. We cannot get rid of evil, only God can, whether in the world or within us. Let them grow together, the parable says, because weeds are, as Paul reminds us, endemic, and because the harvest day will come when God will judge good and evil and it is on God’s time. Herein lies the good news. God is not about to let weeds overtake the wheat. The time before the harvest gives many a chance to change their ways. Time in this sense is grace. There is reason for hope, and if hope, then the ability to wait, to be patient among the weeds, till the harvest. We know that on our own we cannot conquer the weeds, the sins within us. We need God to take the sins away. If our weeds, our sinfulness is not destroyed we will grasp the very thing that we do not want, that can only bring death to me. The power of the evil one is too strong for us to consistently resist on our own. For us to live, we must give God control, let Him enter into our heart, mind and spirit and let Him destroy the weeds that are our sin. All the lessons for this day repeat this theme in different ways. The God we long for in the midst of the world’s sin and brokenness is a faithful God, a loving God, and a powerful God who holds true to His divine promise. The God of judgment is also the God of grace. And in spite of all of our fears and sins, this God loves us. This God saves us. Happy Birthday to Laura Wittorff, born on July 28. Next Sunday is a 5th Sunday. Be thinking of your favorite hymns and remember the back-door offering for the Food Harvest. Today’s lector is MaryAnn Niemi. Next Sunday’s lector is Richard Sturgeon.