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Pentecost 6 Proper 11A RCL July 20. 2014

Genesis 28:10-19a
Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In our first reading today, Jacob is running for his life. He has cheated his older brother, Esau, out of his father’s blessing and his birthright. Esau is following him, and when he finds Jacob, he will kill him. Jacob is heading for his father’s hometown of Haran.

He stops for the night, takes a stone, and places it under his head for a pillow. During the night, he has a dream or a vision of a ladder coming down from heaven with angels going up and down the ladder.

Jacob’s name means “The Supplanter.” He is crafty and deceitful. He clothed himself in animal skins to fool his father, Isaac, into thinking Jacob was the oldest son, Esau, and that is how he got Isaac to give him his blessing. When Esau came in from hunting and was ravenous, Jacob had some lentil stew simmering on the fire and Esau sold Jacob his birthright for that lentil stew. In older translations, this delectable meal was called a “mess of pottage.”

All his life, Jacob has been scheming to get ahead. Jacob has been thinking about no one but Jacob. But now he has an encounter with God. When he wakes up, he knows that angels are real and that there is Someone much bigger than he is. He builds a monument and names the place Beth El—House of the Lord. Beth means house in Hebrew and El is the first syllable of Elohim, meaning, “The Lord.” Jacob is now aware of God’s presence in his life. He is beginning a process of transformation.

Psalm 139 reinforces Jacob’s experience. No matter where we go, God is there. God is always present in our lives. Every place is Beth El, God’s house.

In our epistle, St. Paul has been talking about life in the flesh and life in the spirit. Paul reminds us of the amazing fact that we are children of God. Because of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can call the God who made the heavens and the earth “Abba.” As you know, “Abba” is an intimate term. It means “Daddy” or “Dad” or “Mom” or “Mama.” God is our loving parent. Paul tells us that there are many sufferings in our world, but that there is reason for hope because God is building God’s shalom, God’s kingdom of peace, harmony and wholeness.

In our gospel for today, we have Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. A man sows good seed in his field. During the night an enemy comes and plants weeds. The servants want to go right out and pull those weeds, but the Master tells them not to do that. They should let the wheat and the weeds grow together, and at the harvest they will be separated.

In our world, there are good things going on and there are bad things going on. In each of us, there are parts of us which are great and there is room for growth. We have only to look at Jacob, the main character in our first lesson. He is a cheat and a liar. But God has chosen him. God is going to work with him. Jacob will grow in faith and he will become a different and better person. We all have our flaws. Yet God loves us and asks us to be the bearers of the Good News.

In our world, and sometimes in the Church, we can be like the servants who want to go right out there and tear out those weeds. In the early Church, there was a big argument about whether only Jews could follow Jesus. Because of Peter’s vision, the Church realized that the faith was for all people. In our country, it took a painful and costly struggle and Civil War for us to realize that slavery was wrong, One person cannot own another. Then we went through a struggle to allow women to go to college and to vote. Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. It is not enough to free the slaves. We must treat all people as human beings worthy of respect. Every person can vote; ride busses, trains, planes; go to restaurants, use bathrooms. We humans have a tendency to want to exclude some people, and that is not part of God’s shalom.

So we have to be careful before we tear out what we think are weeds. We have to listen for God’s voice. We are called to be builders, not destroyers. We need to remember that God is the ultimate judge.

Everything comes back to God. I would like to go back to Jacob’s encounter with God, and I want to share with you a song based on that experience. It can also apply to our present experience. I am just going to read you the words.

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

I can feel His mighty power and His grace.\I can hear the brush of angels’ wings; I see glory on each face.

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.

 

In the midst of His children, the Lord said He would be.

It doesn’t take very many. It can be just two or three.

And I feel that same sweet spirit that I’ve felt oft times before,

Surely I can say that I’ve been with the Lord.

 

Chorus

 

There’s a holy hush around us as God’s glory fills this place.

I’ve touched the hem of His garment; I can almost feel His face;

And my heart is overflowing with the fullness of His joy;

I know without a doubt that I’ve been with the Lord.

 

Chorus

 

May we take God’s presence with us wherever we go.  May we seek and do God’s will. Amen.

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