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|Thoughts Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Note due to severe weather no service was held at Christ Church on Feb. 6, 2011. The Gospel
St. Matthew xiii. 24.
THE kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
I find it interesting how certain scriptures only seem "right" in one translation. While I have and use most of the modern translations this reading is only "right" in the King James. Most likely due to a Sunday school teacher at either Douglas St. Methodist in Springfield IL, or Foundry Methodist in Washington DC. That vaguely remembered saint told this story in a way that has stuck with me for around sixty years. The farmer is of course God, and the enemy is of course the devil. The good seed are the righteous in God. The tares are the unrighteous corrupted by the devil. That much is pretty straightforward and easy to understand.
What always stuck with me was the explanation of just what a tare is. Wheat and tare are both a form of grass, most of us could not tell one from the other as they were growing. However, when they start to bear fruit it is clear which is which. Wheat puts forth a golden seed that can be ground into flour and is the staff of life in many cultures. Tare puts forth a hard small extremely bitter black seed that may sicken both man and beast.
What is a farmer to do? Today with large fields and tractor pulled harvesters he might have to burn the entire field destroying both the good and the bad. Even during the first century there is a problem, if you try to weed out the tares the moment they can be identified you will probably destroy a good sized portion of the good wheat. It is much better to wait until harvest then the harvesters working by hand can harvest the tares for the fire, then go back and harvest the wheat for the barn. For us the question is who are the wheat, and who are the tares? The simple fact is we don't know. We are scatters of seed not the harvesters.
Thankfully God is the farmer, not us. What we need to do is look into our own lives and trust and obey God so that the harvesters put us in the barn not the fire.
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