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July 2011

Weeds in the Field

For the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 11

(from Saving the Ants)

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Biblical Reference: Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43

Preparation: You may bring some weeds and some flowers to show the difference, or even a potted plant with a few weeds growing in it.

When Jesus talked to the crowds of people that gathered to hear him, he often taught them stories called  parables. Jesus once told a parable comparing the kingdom of heaven to a field that had been planted with good seeds. The seeds sprouted and wheat came up, but something else sprouted with the wheat that no farmer would want in their field. What do you think that was? (Wait for response.) Weeds came up, right alongside the good plants.

The field workers wanted to pull those weeds out right away, but the master of the field stopped them. The wheat and the weeds were growing right next to each other and their roots were probably all mixed up together. What might happen if you tried to pull a full grown weed out and its roots were wrapped around the roots of a good plant right next to it? (Wait for answer.) The weed could pull the good plant right out with it! So the owner of the field told the workers to wait and let the good and bad plants grow up together. Then at harvest time, the weeds would be collected and burned, but the wheat would be gathered up.

The disciples knew this wasn’t just a story about a field with weeds, and they wanted Jesus to tell them the meaning. So Jesus told them that the field represented the world and he was the owner of the field. Who do you think the good seeds are? I can see many good seeds from where I’m sitting. Those who love Jesus are the good seeds. Are there any bad seeds in our world? Yes, unfortunately there are people who do not love God and who do mean things to other people.

Do all the good people live in one part of the world and all the bad people live in another part? No, we’re all mixed together. God’s children live right next to people who don’t love God. And even inside of a child of God, there may be some bad thoughts right along with all of the good thoughts.

I’ve often wondered why God just doesn’t make all the people who do really bad things just disappear? But it isn’t that simple. Do bad people sometimes change? They certainly do. Many chapters of our Bible were written by Paul, someone who hated Christians at first, and then his life changed and he began preaching the good news of Jesus to everyone.

Jesus said that at the end of the world, however, everything will be sorted out. The good will be gathered into heaven to be with Jesus. In the meantime, we can tell the good news of Jesus’ love to those who are still trying to decide.

Prayer:  Help us to spread the good news of your love, dear Jesus, while we wait for you to return. May we reach out with the hand of love to those who have turned away from you.

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