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The photo is from the field right across the road from us. I am not going to even attempt to do daily advent readings, and today is an advent story that doesn’t match up with the lectionary. (Our church doesn’t follow the lectionary, which is fine, but it also doesn’t sing Christmas carols, which seems so dismal and awful to me, but that’s a story for another day. (I believe I begged my dear husband to let us sing O Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World at our July wedding…. Again, a story for another day).)

The text for the sermon yesterday was Matthew 13:24-43, the story of the  wheat and the weeds. In the story a man sows good seed in his field, but his enemy comes and sows weeds in the night. When the plants sprout, the man’s servants ask if they can pull the weeds out, but the owner of the field says, “‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them'” (v. 29).

As the text was read I was struck by the owner’s directions not to pull the weeds out. Wouldn’t it be better for the wheat not to be choked by all those weeds? And why wouldn’t the workers be able t tell the difference, for goodness’ sake? But the pastor said that the weeds were actually darnels, which is a type of tall grass that looks like wheat. He went on to talk about how it’s not our job to try to discern the weeds from the wheat. He even said something to the extent of, “If you’re the kind of person who takes joy at the thought of other people going to hell, you belong in prison.” THANK YOU!!!!

I think this story is pointing us to our fundamental inability to see rightly and therefore our inability to pass judgment. This theme can be seen already in Matthew; indeed, going back to the genealogy in the first chapter, in which Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba are included as Jesus’ forbears. Women. The kind of women who would have been sorted by human eyes into the weed pile. Sluts, gentiles.

This story calls us to slow our judging tongues, tame our sorting and sifting natures. We all like to think that we would have been discerning enough in Bethlehem all those years ago. If we were the inn keeper we would have given up our own room, by golly! We wouldn’t have needed a shining star or angels; we would have simply known. But the chilling and haunting and humbling truth is that there weren’t any Christians on that lonely night. It wasn’t a national holiday. There were no Christmas carols (except the radiant glorias above the shepherds’ field). It was an illegitimate child on a cold night. God, give us eyes to see.

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