Sermons 2008
Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 11 A 2008 Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In the 1980s and 1990s there was popularized a social theory that posited that no person on the entire planet was separated from any other person on the planet by more that six degrees or steps or connections, or through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries. (1) It was an interesting theory and fun; I found through a Polish friend that I was only two degrees of separation from the pope. And all of you who connected to me in any way are no more than three degrees of separation from the pope and only two degrees from the recent archbishop of Canterbury and General Douglas Macarthur, and through them to kings and queens and other heads of states and archbishops at greater degrees of separation but no more than six.and so on. And incidentally also to a lot of people we may neither like nor admire. Fun -- but so what?

The degrees of separation are not what is really important but rather the degree of connection that we have to each other and to the whole Creation. We all have a deep sense of connectedness’ to family, whether for good or ill – mostly good but sometimes not. Anyone who has read Fulkner, or Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides, or Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, among many others can get sense of these family connections, know and unknown. WE are after all surrounded by children and grandchildren and if not nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, single and double first cousins second cousins, third cousins, directly and once removed and so on. Makes us dizzy just to think about it.

Around here in the Northern Neck, when you ask about people – who they are, rather than answering in terms of what they do, the answer often comes in terms of other people to whom they are related or connected. Depending, of course, on whether you are asking a born here or a come here.
And perhaps some insight into who in those networks of connection are good seeds or bad seeds. I ha never thought much about bad seeds until I saw the movie by that name many years ago. It was about an evilly manipulative child who wrought mayhem, death, and destruction in her family and in her community. There was a collective gasp of relief when the child was herself destroyed by a bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm – and not a gasp of astonishment.

In our Gospel for today, Jesus continued his agricultural images in his teaching to his disciples and followers. Anyone who has farmed or gardened or even tried to have a more perfect lawn can relate to this business of good seed and bad seed, wheat and weeds. Most of us try to get rid of weeds as soon as we plant them, knowing that they will be harder to remove later and will flower early and scatter more weed seeds for the future.

Interesting that Jesus says no. Wait until later and see if you need to do that. There’s a story about an inexperienced gardener who saw a plant in a part of his yard that looked entirely out of place and must therefore be a weed, perhaps even a noxious one like poison ivy. He decided to pull it out but an experienced gardener happened by and looked at the plant and said, “Wait. Give it a year and see what it is. It might be interesting.” And it was. It was an oak tree. Seedling oaks often look like weeds even into the second year. But this particular oak was in a sun drenched part of the yard where shade was badly needed. And in a few years, the now mighty oak provided it.

So Jesus seems to be teaching us about having patience and not rushing to judgement. (2) His parables teach many things and perhaps that’s among them.
We are also connected on deeply profound ways to all of Creation. Whether global warming is caused mostly by humans or whatever, or even whether it is warming, we know that we have to do better -- and do it quickly. The surface waters and aquifers of the planet are becoming polluted, even in the dip ocean. Trout are not thriving in Virginia’s cold water streams these days and pfisteria still haunts us in the Chesapeake Bay. Until recently many people spent more on pure drinking water than on gasoline.

In the first Genesis Creation story God gives humankind “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
I wonder what God thinks now about our stewardship of it all, for it all belongs to us, to help or to hinder, to save or destroy. I wonder if Jesus told that story today, whether we would be the good seed – or the bad.

1. Wikipedia article “degrees of separation”; article, “six degrees of separation”; google search.
2. Hare, Matthew, p. 155.