You can watch the video of Pastor Kris’ reflection, Growing? Or Weeding? HERE.
This week’s Bible reading has all the makings of a good mystery story. There is suspense. We have a villain in the “evil one” whose dastardly deed is to scatter seeds in the middle of the night. Oh no! The horror! There is a crime scene, the newly sprouted kindom of heaven. This is also a tragic story of grief and loss—with the anticipation of great weeping and gnashing of teeth—and thus this is a story which we can relate to all too well during a pandemic. A global health emergency rife with tragic news stories, suffering, sickness and death, and political unsettlings. The author of Matthew writes of heroes: the Son of Man, angels, and people who are honorable, upright, blameless. And in the end, judgement. Judgement is handed down.
How does this story of the wheat and weeds make you feel? I don’t know about you, but I found myself being annoyed by the parable. I got frustrated when I didn’t hear anything about any potential redemption for the weeds. Their lot in life (or afterlife) is predestined to be tossed aside. I find that I am also left not being very impressed with the heroes Jesus gives us. For what kind of superhero comes to the rescue and says, “Wheat? What wheat? No, let’s not rush in to anything just to save the wheat… that good crop which has been planted… the children of the kindom. Nah. Let’s just wait a bit instead. Don’t worry. The time will come.”
Don’t worry, the time will come.
Not so great. In the middle of a pandemic, no so great Jesus.
Eighteen(ish) weeks since the global pandemic was declared back in March, how many of us are out of patience… and not so willing to wait like Jesus asks? How many of us would just like life to get back to “normal”—NOW? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if NOW was the time God finally shows up, gathering in Her abundant harvest, and tossing all this bad stuff we are going through into the garbage heap? Let anyone with ears listen (and that included YOU, God!)!
However, my need for a solution, an end game, a strategy for NOW is not what Jesus provides (although he does… that is the whole point of the parable). He suggests a different lesson for us in the text than we may want to learn. While we have ears to hear it is difficult for us to really listen to Jesus’ message for what I think are 2 reasons this particular morning:
- The trauma, grief, and loss we are experiencing as individuals and as a community during the COVID-19 pandemic presents daily, overwhelming challenges, our brains just cannot take it all in and
- The reality that this is a hard-to-hear parable which makes us step into a very uncomfortable, liminal space.
The word liminal comes from the Latin limen, or threshold… a point, a boundary, between two places. And what better way to describe this historic time in which we are living, than liminal. We are between. We are between two places: BC (Before Coronavirus) and AV (After the Vaccine). We are living between what was, and what will be. This is a time of living and being… and waiting… and not knowing.
And it is here Jesus says to us, “Wait. Stay here a bit. Grow into this space. Don’t worry. The time will come. Give this ‘now time’ to God.”
The whole thing: Wheat and weeds, and all the gaps in between. These are liminal times. Spaces full of potential for growth. Richard Rohr writes of these liminal spaces as,
“… an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where we can begin to think and act in new ways. It is where we are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next. We usually enter liminal space when our former way of being is challenged or changed—perhaps when we lose a job or a loved one, during illness, at the birth of a child, or a major relocation. It is a graced time, but often does not feel “graced” in any way. In such space, we are not certain or in control. This global pandemic we now face is an example of an immense, collective liminal space… The very vulnerability and openness of liminal space allows room for something genuinely new to happen.”
Allowing space for something new, something God, to happen.
That is what Jesus is asking us to do today. He tells us not rush in and pull out those darn weeds which are troubling us in the world, but instead to pause and grow with the weeds. That is a really tough thing for each of us, and all of humanity, to do. Yet Jesus seems to be telling us we need to live within this liminal space. A place in which we need to live with ourselves and with our own wheatness and our weediness… both as individuals and as a wider community. And there, we might just encounter the unexpected possibilities have been embedded in this dual planting of seeds.
During a global epidemic, what is our “wheatness,” the crop God desires to grow in the world? Love? Companionship? Hospitality? Where and when have we, as a global community, fallen asleep allowing evil to take root in the world? Why has it taken us this long to recognize the weediness around us? It sure seems like it has taken the current crises for us to be able to see the weediest of the weeds in our midst.
In this new, uncertain place, Jesus asks us to create new space. A place which might be… will be… uncomfortable, but with a new openness to the waiting that will allow us to grow, learn, and bear fruit in ourselves and with each other. Maybe… just maybe… as time goes on and the weeds and thistles of our lives—inside and out—die and get burned, humanity will be transformed and there will be space for rebirth in us through the grace and love of God.
In our betwix and between, wheat and weed, I want to end by sharing with you an adaptation of a poem by Micky ScottBey Jones. This is… as we struggle with the wheat and weeds growing side-by-side:
AN INVITATION TO CREATE NECESSARY SPACE
Together we will create necessary space.
Because there is no such thing (right now) as a “safe space” —
We exist in the real world.
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this necessary space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love.
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow. We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know. We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be.
It will be our necessary space together,
We will work on it side by side.
Beloved, these are trying, difficult days. Know that in all of our wheatiness and weediness, we will live, and breathe, and grow together. We will not be perfect. There will be missteps. But we will be. We will be in truth and love, hope and companionship—held in God’s grace.
Reflection on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 offered on July 19, 2020.
 “Liminal,” Merriam-Webster (Merriam-Webster), accessed July 16, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liminal.
 Richard Rohr, “Between Two Worlds,” Center for Action and Contemplation, April 27, 2020, https://cac.org/between-two-worlds-2020-04-26/.
 Adapted from Micky ScottBey Jones, “An Invitation to Brave Space,” On Being’s An Invitation to Brave Space, October 17, 2019, https://onbeing.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/An-Invitation-to-Brave-Space.pdf