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Pentecost 5 Proper 11 July 17, 2011

Pentecost 5 Proper 11A RCL July 17, 2011

Genesis 28:10-19a
Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23
Romans 8: 12-25
Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-41

In various ways, all our readings today tell us something about our relationship with God.

First, we meet Jacob once again. He has cheated his older brother Esau out of his birthright and his father’s blessing. Esau is trying to kill him. Jacob is on the run, headed back to his father’s home town of Haran. He stops for this night, takes a desert stone and places it under his head as a pillow, and has a dream or a vision of a ladder connecting earth and heaven with angels going up and down the ladder.

God renews God’s promise, first made to Abraham. And God tells Jacob that all the peoples of the earth will be blessed and that God will be with Jacob. This is a vision of shalom. God’s peace and blessing over the whole earth.

Jacob wakes up. We can safely say that, until this point in his life, Jacob has been putting Jacob first, not God. But now Jacob knows that God is present. He builds a monument and names the place Beth El—Beth—house and El-Lord–Elohim—House of the Lord, place where God dwells. Jacob is still Jacob, the cheater, the guy who takes care of Number One, but he is now aware of God’s presence in his life, and his relationship with God will grow closer.

Psalm 139 eloquently tells us that, no matter where we go, God is always with us.

In our epistle, Paul has been talking about life in the flesh and life in the Spirit, two very different paths. Paul tells us that we are children of God and we can call God Abba—Dad, Papa, or in inclusive terms, Mom or Mama. We are that close. Paul describes the world in terms we can identify with. There is much struggle. People are suffering from hunger, poverty, war, and oppression. The world is not as God would have it. But something is coming to birth, and that is the kingdom, the shalom of God in which all will be made whole.

In today’s gospel, the kingdom of God is compared to a man who sows good seed in his field, but an enemy comes in the night and sows weeds, darnel.  The servants want to fix this right away, pull the weeds, clear this up. But if they pull the weeds, they will uproot the wheat. The landowner tells them that they will have to wait until the harvest. Then they can separate the wheat from the weeds.

This parable appears only in Matthew and some scholars think that it applies to Matthew’s community. As we have noted earlier, some people were falling away because of the challenges of living the faith in a hostile world.  There may also have been some folks in Matthew’s community stirring up strife and conflict.

Sometimes in the Church we have people who say, “We have to get rid of these people or those people.” This has been happening from the earliest days of the Church. These people are in. These people are out.
These people are right. These people are wrong.

The point of this parable is that God is the judge. We are not. Look at Jacob. He has done some awful things. Yet God has chosen him. Jacob is now aware of God’s presence. God will work with him. Yes, Jacob will still be flawed and fallible, just as you and I are, but God will make his life a blessing. Jacob will grow in faith, and he will become a better and better person. We all have our flaws and failings, yet God loves and cherishes us as God’s beloved children.

Theologian Richard Pervo writes, “God has invited us to gather rather than to judge, to get together and learn to live with one another, weeds and wheat alike. There is wheat within each of us as well as those all-too-visible weeds. From this patchy crop, God can fashion a miraculous bread, transforming each of us by the pure wheat of this holy offering, making us into beings shaped by hope.” (New Proclamation 2011, p. 99.)

Gracious God, thank you for seeing in us potential we cannot always see. Thank you for loving us and walking with us wherever we go. Thank you for never giving up on us. Help us to feel your presence in this and every place. Help us to sense your love. Help us to let the wheat and tares grow together and trust in you for the harvest.

                        Amen.

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