Finding the Guidance and Power We Need
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
United Church of Strafford, Vermont
July 19, 2020 Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Romans 8; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
[You can watch a video recording of this sermon at the end of this text and you can see the entire On Line Service by clicking here. This is the third in a series of three teachings on this topic in the July 19th service.]
Imagine Jesus alive today looking at the racism, the economic injustice, the destruction of the environment, the work of billions of years of the Spirit of love and life and light about to be erased from the universe by humans who would not listen to the wisdom of twenty-five hundred years of teachers and prophets and saints.
Imagine Jesus seeing at the same time so many good people working to make earth better, the children fighting for black lives and to save the planet, children who just want to live and love life and millions of adults who are fighting for those children’s sake. Imagine Jesus looking at you and seeing the hope and love and yearning of your heart. Imagine how much Jesus would grieve those who are causing pain and how passionately Jesus would want to make everything right.
So imagine that he tells us a parable about people and nature and the Spirit and realm of God. He offers it as a message hidden in its words to guide us. He says,
“The realm of God may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the farmworkers came and said to the farmer, ‘Did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The farmworkers said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
His disciples asked what this meant and he said that the field was the world and the good grain was everyone who followed the Spirit’s sacred way. The weeds were all who work against the Spirit of God, and in the endtimes, those weeds will be purged from the field and all who live by the Spirit will shine like the sun and the realm of God be established on earth. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
Here we are on the brink of an end time that humans have caused, so what is the message? If we want to have ears to hear, if we want to interpret the hidden message correctly, we need to get our ego’s thoughts and prejudices out of our heads and open to the Spirit’s magical powers.
I think the hidden message is the opposite of what the ego usually finds—its complacency that we are good grain and condemnation of others as bad weeds. Rather, Jesus is saying not to worry about the weeds, not to let enemies cast a shadow over us, but to trust that in the end they will undergo the transformation of the Spirit’s fire, whatever that means.
All we need to focus on is being good grain ourselves, growing and bearing fruit and seeding the world with goodness, because that is what the Spirit of God needs. Those who focus on the negative fill with negativity, but those who focus on building the realm of light fill with light and cast more light.
This message from Matthew fits well with the message from the 8th Chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans which is also in the lectionary.
Paul says that “To set the mind on sarx is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” As I said last week, sarx means the ego, the false self, the selfish part of human nature that works against the Spirit of God. Sarx is the opposite of the truest, sacred part of human nature, the heart and mind of Christ we all can have.
To set the mind on sarx is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Paul says the entire creation longs for humans to fulfill their true selves and let the Spirit rule their lives and their world.
I believe that the secret message that is coming down to us from ancient times is this, that the survival of all creation depends on humans making the Spirit of God and its sacred way our focus, and we cannot let those who are destroying life on earth and inflicting social, economic and environmental violence and injustice pull us into the shadow of their weeds.
We need to become the most powerful instruments of light and love that we possibly can, we need to organize and expand our movement and give our time, talent and substance to its work. We need to undergo continuous metanoia to grow closer and closer to having the pure heart and mind of Christ in us.
I believe that there is magic in this ancient wisdom, that it will open to us guidance and power far beyond what we can now imagine, that it will enable us to perform the miracles we need to save this world, but only if we dedicate ourselves to it and practice and work together. The moment is here, and a great uprising is happening, but the weeds are gaining strength, too, and are fighting to take over the entire field.
So the questions we need to answer are, what do we each need in order to set our mind on the Spirit more completely, what is essential to our personal transformation of consciousness so we can have the heart and mind of Christ?
What can the church do or be in order to help us all get those spiritual essentials, and how can we organize our collective efforts to speed the transformation of the world?
I hope we will have an open conversation about those questions in the time ahead.
In the meantime, let us turn with all our questions to the Holy Spirit in silent prayer, asking for guidance and strength. Let us pray… Amen.