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Weeds Among the Wheat – Br. Curtis Almquist

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curtis4Matthew 13:24-30

The thought of an enemy sowing weeds – typically, a particularly strain of weed whose early blossoms looked very much like wheat – into a farmer’s field was so real and so common that its punishment was codified into Roman law in Jesus’ day.  This actually happened, an enemy sowing weeds among the wheat. There are three lessons we can draw from Jesus’ parable about the weeds and the wheat.

1. There’s the reality of an enemy, a kind of spiritual evil, the enemy of our soul, that is real in the world, and whose intent is to sow havoc and destruction into our lives.  There’s a battle going on between good and evil in this world, and it is we – our own soul – that is being fought over.  Claim Jesus’ protection and power.  Claim it particularly in advance of going into a place which seems dangerous to your soul, for whatever reason.  The threat of the enemy accosting our soul is real in this life; Jesus’ protection and power is greater, always greater, and Jesus’ protection and power is always assured.  Claim Jesus’ protection and power.  We need it; we have it.

2. Secondly, don’t judge.  In the farmer’s field – in the field of life – what is wheat and what is weed in someone’s soul is impossible to distinguish, at least in this life.  Don’t judge.  Do not judge another person in a condemning way.  I’m not talking about not judging someone’s actions.  Some actions are clearly wrong.  They may be illegal or immoral, and they are clearly judged to be wrong.  We are accountable for our actions.  But Jesus here isn’t talking about actions; he’s talking about essence, the essence of another person.  It will take more than a lifetime, it will take an eternity to tell what proves good and what proves bad about another person.  We will not have eyes to see it in this lifetime.  Don’t judge.  We hear Jesus say, multiple times in the Gospels, not to judge because we do not have enough evidence, and it is not our place to make a condemning judgment about another person.  Whoever they are, they are loved by Jesus.  Jesus is dying to love them.

3. And thirdly, judgment day will come.  And we all will be judged… by love. Jesus’ judgment call is love.  We affirm, in the Apostles’ Creed, that Jesus descended into hell, which is ultimately to rescue and save every last soul.  In the last great battle, love wins.  Jesus’ love is ultimately and eternally irresistible.  Love wins.

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16 Comments

  1. Cara Alfieri on November 28, 2018 at 14:22

    I loved this sermon. I am keeping it in a place where I can refer to it often. I’ve attended an Episcopal church for 35 yrs. and never heard such a clear and accurate description of the battle between good and evil being waged for our souls. And your insights about judging & judgment are equally helpful to me. Thank you, Br. Curtis.

  2. Edward Franks on November 28, 2018 at 11:03

    There is a connection between actions and essence (whatever this is – the matrix of thoughts, emotions, emotional responses, et cetera that make up the ‘essence’ of a person, and which modern psychotherapy tries to address in a number of ways concerning the internal operation of the person such as cognitive and coherence therapies, to name two and a number of theories which deal with interpersonal relationships and situations such as transactional analysis, Gestalt and self-help schools of thought). I think Jesus was talking about being judgmental, not making judgments and is based in the notion of and discerning and making right.

  3. Rhode on November 28, 2018 at 10:27

    Amen. I look forward to seeing the surprise on all our faces when we look around and see whom God has loved as much as us! LOL. Thank you for the succint reminder that we fight not only against ‘flesh and blood’ but against real supernatural evil seeking to stir up hate outside us and within us. I need to remind myself Jesus has forever placed himself between me and that which desires to devour my soul. His love is the most powerful example and tool we have been given… learning how to fully love starts new each morning and will probably take an eternity. Thank God that is what is being offered.

  4. Elizabeth Hardy on November 28, 2018 at 10:05

    It is rare now in homilies to see any reference to the evil one and the state of warfare for our souls. It is thought to be old-fashioned perhaps. But it is in times when we are our lowest – or our most hateful and unforgiving, that the enemy gets the opportunity to drag us away from the source of life and light. I just received a birthday letter from the Community of the Sisters of the Church, where I am an associate, and the letter stated in part “Our world is in a very confused state at this time, as at other times in history. Prayer and hope are our great resources…” They could have added – hatred, anger and judgement are not. Thank you for this very delightful insight. Br. Curtis.

  5. Diane Hull on November 28, 2018 at 09:44

    Someone once past on some wisdom to me. And I hold this close. “we are called to love, but we don’t have to like”. I really dislike! And do all that I can to make a change in the political sphere – and pray for a good outcome in the future.

  6. Jess on July 1, 2018 at 21:16

    Sorry, the Lord gave me both a heart AND a brain. I do judge because my conscience demands it, our racist monster of a president to be sent by the Evil One himself. I condemn him and will fight to destroy him, NOT pray for his soul and hope he sees the light. That path is for cowards, the deluded, and those actually supporting him (many of them allegedly of our faith). Your words are fine for times of peace and sorry to say, fairly useless in times of war.

    • Reed Saunders on November 28, 2018 at 05:39

      Jess,
      Your anguish and honesty come through. Our challenge is that anger is exhausting. Love in the service of resisting injustice is infinite. Fight with a loving heart.

      • jess on November 28, 2018 at 12:49

        I wish I could love, but that ship has sailed. Gassing children and beating to death trans people that have turned to us for safety is is not within my capacity either to tolerate or forgive, let alone love. The Almighty can do this. I do not even wish to try. When I hear words of peace (that I formerly rested in) being used, I see it as a way to suffocate outrage, detour action, bring into compliance those like me who are beside themselves with hatred and rage. Christianity, turning the other cheek, forgiving enemies, works as long as the wrong is being done to oneself. When it is being continuously done to the helpless, the weak, the sick, the elderly, the children (i.e., everyone Christ gave us charge to protect and care for), forgiveness equals complicity.

        The toxic corrosiveness of hatred destroys the hater and leave the object of hate untouched, I understand this. Bring it. I have a few thousand better things to do than attend to the purity and well-being of my soul right now. (I find myself describing church as “spa day for the soul.”) Hell no doubt awaits, but it can not be much worse than the misery I see each day orchestrated by greed and self-enchantment and the racism that has always been with us, now empowered and glorified. The faith does not work anymore for me. I wish you well in your spiritual pursuits – may they give you the satisfaction and comfort they no longer offer me.

        • Reed on November 29, 2018 at 13:00

          Jess,
          When I wrote “fight with a loving heart” I actually meant FIGHT! We CANNOT stand by to any injustice done to us or our fellow man; especially the poor and those on the margins of society. We march, we care for others, we agitate for change, we resist all injustice wherever it occurs.
          We DO live in a broken world; just as Jesus did.

          • jess on November 29, 2018 at 15:03

            Reed, You made me smile, and the Almighty (whom I sometimes, only half-jokingly, refer to as God-the-Travel-Agent) yesterday pointed me to John Pavlovitz’s second book, Hope and Other Superpowers…A World-Saving Manifesto. Perhaps I am not as lost as I presumed. Thank you.



    • Liberty Ford on November 28, 2018 at 08:41

      What good is the Gospel if it only works for sunny days? Sincere question.

      • jess on November 29, 2018 at 08:18

        Very good question. My answer has broken my heart.

        • June on November 30, 2018 at 09:00

          Life is sometimes quite raw. There are Moneychanger Moments and there are Garden of Gethsemane Moments, and these are not mutually exclusive.

          I needed to read more about what Br. Curtis was saying, as the clip left me unsettled, since when I read it I had just been pondering someone’s detrimental choices.

          I was relieved to read the whole of that paragraph and see the distinction made between being discerning and being judgmental.

          Love rages against injustice and Love lays down his life for the unjust as well as for the just. I am continually humbled by this. Discernment is vital.

          • Liberty Ford on December 1, 2018 at 09:07

            Thanks June. Am pondering rage as a dimension of love. Viewed that way, love’s rage comes from an entirely different place than the knee-jerk outrage so prevalent and so beguiling these days.



  7. Claudia Booth on July 1, 2018 at 20:20

    Absolutely, although, love is sometimes difficult to feel. We must open our hearts to God’s love.

  8. SusanMarie on July 1, 2018 at 07:41

    Br. Curtis, for me this is a perfect sermon. While I also often enjoy a sermon that expands on the topic in greater length and depth, sometimes the ones that are short and directly to the point can have an immediate and unmistakable impact. That’s what I felt after reading this sermon. You have touched on the essential parts with clarity and purpose and the message is very clear. It’s a beautiful sermon with an important message; one that I will keep in my heart and mind. Thank you.

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