Jesus could have been using my garden as an example when telling this parable. Weeds among the things that were intentionally planted? Story of my life. I don’t particularly like weeding, so often the weeds will grow so tall that they will overshadow the plants that are supposed to be the highlights of my garden!
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can use the excuse of an enemy coming in and planting the weeds… but I may just use the excuse of not pulling them out so that I don’t hurt the good plants in the process 🙂
This is one of those rare parables that has immediate resonance with most people today. Many of us have lived on farms or know someone who has. Even if we have no direct connection with farming, most of us have seen plants growing, and probably have a sense of some plants being more useful than others. Some of us know a lot about growing crops, whether in a field or in a garden, while others at least know to avoid stepping in poison ivy (if we can ever remember what it looks like). Most of us have probably seen a farm, if only in passing, or studied farms in school. Despite tremendous advances in technology over the centuries, and tremendous changes in culture, we are still dependent on soil, rain, sunshine, and plants for most of our food.
In some respects, it’s too bad that Jesus actually explains the meaning of the parable in the Gospel of Matthew. Since the analogy used is still relevant to us, there are many possible interpretations that we could imagine for our communities. And yet, we’re left with a rather dry explanation that talks about the devil and angels and the end of the age, which are not frequent sermon topics, at least in my setting! How can we take a powerful parable and a pedantic interpretation and help our people apply this word to their lives in meaningful ways?
There are great commentaries on this parable at Working Preacher, on David Lose’s blog …in the meantime, and on Modern Lectionaries. Additional resources, including visuals and children’s sermon ideas, can be found at TextWeek.
As always, the Revised Common Lectionary offers several other texts to be used in worship and preaching. Isaiah declares the sovereignty of God, while Genesis brings us Jacob’s ladder. Romans reminds us that we are children of God and therefore have freedom. And while I don’t have any brilliant insights about the Psalms this week – remember, they are Scripture too, and can work beautifully as sermon texts! Which passages will be read in your worship service? Which will you use as the focus of your sermon? Please share any ideas, questions, and helpful links below! Blessings to you in your worship preparations this week.
Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor, writer, chaplain, and canoeing instructor located in Madison, WI. This time of year, she spends as much time outside as possible!
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