From the Rector - August 2019

Dear Friends,

Darnel is a common weed in Palestine and indeed around the world. The seed of the darnel is easily mistaken for wheat and the two plants are indistinguishable until they have ripened and the ear has developed. This means that they are easily confused for each other.

Wheat and darnel are so alike that darnel is even known in some places as false-wheat. The major difference between the two plants is that darnel is highly toxic and when consumed can result in a kind of drunken nausea which in some cases can be fatal.

The weeds and the wheat and the explanation in Matthew’s parable (Chapter 13. 24-43) are unmistakeable. Jesus is warning us that there will be a time of judgement and that on that day we will be dealt with according to where our true loyalties lie. The story allows for mature judgement and also contains a message to take care not to damage what is good by dealing prematurely with what is bad.

The weeds are not just in the big wide world out there - they are much closer at hand, even within the church we love.

"Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?" Behind all these questions is the big one, "Will evil or good have the last word?"

The parable doesn’t give an easy answer. It doesn’t explain what’s happening: why evil exists; why there is suffering; why good gets corrupted? But at least it admits to the problem: good and evil co-exist, up close to one another and up close to our lives. They are intertwined and seem to be involved in a struggle for a final victory.

Weeds get into everything, even into the landscape of our own spiritual field. There are definitely times when we must make decisions about what is right and wrong.

Still, this is a parable that has something to say to our church and personal lives - especially when, in our enthusiasm, we are quick to judge, pull up, cast aside and give up: when we are quick to jump to conclusions about ourselves and our institutions; when we think we have all the evidence, but may not have and be in no position to judge.

Jesus, the teller of the parable knew this from his own experience. He chose servants to do God’s work, yet early signs did not accurately forecast the future. Judas was the keeper of the purse and showed good skills for his position. He was a "mover and a shaker," Peter, Mary Magdalen, Thomas and the rest, revealed early signs of failure, doubt and fear. Yet, he gave them a chance to grow and bear much fruit - and they did.

You may not think it but this is an encouraging parable for each of us.

It is a story of grace, patience and hope. We look back on the mistakes we have made and are grateful we have had time to change; been able, with God’s help, to work things out. What used to be a weed, we were sure, turned out to be wheat. Suppose we had been judged back then, on the spot, without being given more of a chance?

As we look and still see weeds in our lives and the lives of those around us, rather than being overcome by discouragement, the parable holds out hope for us. Good seed had been planted in us; it is growing. What’s more, the burden of the struggle isn’t ours alone.

We can trust the Owner, who knows what is happening, to come to help us sort things out If not now, then surely later - if the parable has any truth to it!

At its heart, this is a parable of confidence. God is in charge. God is not indifferent to our struggle. God is not unaware of what still needs doing. God is guiding us and the church in the process of bringing about a good harvest.

We need to recall this parable, especially when things dismay and discourage us. We will look out at the field and think we know what is going on and what needs to be done. But we will hear this parable and be comforted that it is God who has the final word.

Richard