This week’s Gospel reading brings us face to face with an uncomfortable reminder:
Good and Evil dwell together in this world.
And this will continue to be true until God reconciles and redeems all things.
Sunday, I shared about the things in our journey that are difficult for us. Things like disease, murder, aging, divorce and mental illness.
Things that make us wonder why God doesn’t step in.
Or why these things happen.
Or why they exist.
The parable from Sunday is about good seed being planted and evil seed being “slipped in” under the cover of night. Instead of ripping out the weeds once noticed, the slaves are instructed to leave them until harvest time, lest the intended crop get ripped out with the invasive weeds.
So, the good and the bad coexist.
For God does not want to deter the growth of the good seed
through the ripping out of the bad.
So we are stuck living with weeds.
But, there are things that are helpful to remember
as we live with the weeds.
God is God and we are not.
This should make perfect sense to us.
But we can forget it.
The realization of this means that we understand that there are things happening around us that we are unaware of;
things that serve a bigger purpose.
Isaiah gives perspective on this,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
God is willing to let the bad seed grow amongst the good seed in order that there might be a greater harvest into the family of God.
The example I gave Sunday was from Genesis 18 when Abraham barters with God for the lives of the righteous who may live in Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:23-25
If you read the rest of this story, Abraham, in his bartering, shows God to be very compassionate towards the righteous. For even 10 righteous people in a large town, God will not destroy the town.
We are not alone in our waiting.
Paul reminds us that,
“the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains.”
Waiting is hard, but we have company while we wait.
There is always hope.
Emily Dickinson famously wrote a poem about hope,
a portion of which I will share here:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
Hope is powerful.
It can give us the strength to endure.
The power to hang on.
The mindset to be resolute.
Hope is essential for us,
When we find ourselves in difficult spaces, places and seasons.
In the Genesis reading from Sunday, Jacob is given hope in a dream.
Jacob is on the run.
He has stolen the birthright of his brother.
His name in Hebrew means heal catcher.
He is a trickster.
And he has tricked his father into giving him Esau’s birthright.
He is on the run after Esau threatens to find and kill him
after the mourning of the death of Isaac, their father.
Bedding down for the night, Jacob takes a rock for a pillow.
(Which makes no sense to us, but apparently this was customary to his culture.)
As he sleeps,
God speaks hope to him.
“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28: 13-15
The one on the run.
Is given hope.
And as a reminder that no matter what is ahead for him, God says,
“I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Instead of panic.
This is powerful.
And after this dream Jacob realizes,
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
In the midst of his running from consequences that were most definitely deserved, Jacob realizes that God is with him.
Which would have given him more hope as he lived into what God would have for him in the future.
And something that would be good for us to remember too.
That even living amongst the weeds,
God is present.