Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sermon from July 17, 2011; Matthew 13:24-30

Rev. George Miller
Matthew 13:24-30
“Wild Flowers in the Garden of God”
July 17, 2011

“I come to the garden alone, when the dew is still on the roses…”

Take a moment, imagine: a garden. Roses, hyacinths, daisies; peonies, pansies, and petunias.

Weeds; wildflowers. Do you picture those as well: dandelions, Queen Anne’s lace, and bluebells? (And are bluebells even weeds or are they flowers?)

But guess what: WEEDS HAPPEN.

Weeds happen no matter what, no matter how much you prune, plow, pick, pull and plan.

No matter how much black plastic and white rocks you put down, weeds find a way to grow.

Do you know why? Because weeds are strong. Weeds are persistent.

Weeds know how to survive. Weeds know that the secret to life is to have deep roots.

If we were to be horticulturally politically correct, we’d call them wildflowers because that’s what they are- wild and free.

And anyway: who decides what’s a weed and what is not?

The one who creates the garden?
The one who works in the garden?
The one who looks at the garden?

And let’s be honest: some weeds are the prettiest of flowers; they’re just out of place, different, unplanned or unwanted.

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear, falling on my ear…”

But gardens aren’t the only place where unplanned things exist, are they?

Think of the growing trend of what’s called “guerilla art” or graffiti. There’s the ol' skool kind, like spray-painting on the side of a train. But now there’s the kind of graffiti that’s causing city governments to debate what’s art and what’s illegal.

Take for instance this mosaic known as “Surfing Madonna.” It’s made out of stone and stained glass that cost an estimated $1,000 in materials and was put up in Encinitas, CA by an artist posing as a construction worker.

This piece took 9 months to create and was attached to a railroad bridge. Instantly it drew attention: thousands of people flocking there to take pictures, leave flowers; to feel like they were making a religious pilgrimage.

Yet technically it is graffiti and was removed, but not before sparking conversation on the nature of art, the separation of church and state and who defines what is beautiful and what is not.

Take a look at it for yourself, and wonder: graffiti or art; flower or weed?

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.”

In terms of people, who gets to decide who’s a weed and who is not?

The Nazi’s who envisioned a master race of blue eyed babies with blonde hair?

E-mail composers who fear Muslims will take over of the world?

Gator fans who are surrounded by Buckeyes?

At what age can you tell if someone is going to grow into a dignified garden perennial or a common weed? 5? 10? 20? 40? 80?

When is a person actually ever truly done growing that one can say “She’s a hyacinth” or “He’s a Queen Anne’s lace”?

Who gets to decide all these things?

Thank God for today’s Scripture because it removes all the stress from our shoulders and gives the role of final judgment to God.

Can I get an “Amen”?

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me…”

Today’s reading comes courtesy of Matthew’s Gospel. In it, Jesus is telling a parable, a way of teaching in which no easy answer is given and the hearer is made to come to their own conclusions.

Jesus is telling them what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. And just to clarify things, many UCC scholars believe that Jesus is not referring to an end time notion of where we go after we die, but he’s talking about the here and now.

The Kingdom of Heaven that exists at this exact moment if we just open our eyes, loose our hearts and live according to the ways of God.


The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Master who plants good seed in his garden. Weeds also appear. The servants freak out, ask if they should rip the weeds out.

But the Master, showing amazing grace and pleasant patience, tells them there is no need too, in fact if they were to collect the weeds they could harm the wheat.

“Let them both grow,” the Master says, “At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers what to do.”

This, I believe, is Jesus’ way of saying “Be patient with one another, just as God is patient. No one but God can tell who is truly good and who is truly bad.

“So don’t exhaust yourself. Let God be God and trust that the garden will be well cared for. And who knows?- maybe even a wildflower can grow into a stalk of wheat.”

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own…”

What if, what if the garden, the field in this parable, is actually our own inner selves?

What if this story isn’t just about the weeds that inhabit the world, but it’s about the weeds that exist inside of us?

What if this parable is about the things we dislike about ourselves? The ways in which we punish ourselves with self-judgment?

The way we think we look, the way we feel; the things we can’t do, the failures we’ve endured?

What if this is Jesus’ way of saying “Don’t be so quick to change who you are, because what you label a weed I call a flower?”

Or

What if this is about those things we do, the paths we’ve taken that have poisoned our relationship with God, blocked our view of the Son and choked out the Spirit?

What if this is Jesus’ way of saying that all those negative things that get in the way and prevent us from embracing grace will be burned away, leaving us refined and freed to take our rightful place in the garden?

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

We are in the garden, together.

And we may not be perfect roses, hyacinths or daises. But we are far from weeds.

We are more like wild flowers in the garden of God.

Imperfect? Yes.

Always where we are supposed to be? No.

Beautiful to some; a nuisance to others? Yes, yes.

Our roots deep? Yes.

Are we strong? Yes.

Strong in Christ.
Watered by the Holy Spirit.
Tended to by God.

Growing, changing, and evolving.

Waiting to be gathered to become part of the Kingdom’s glorious bouquet.

Let all of the Master’s wild flowers say “Amen.”

*The first verse of “I Come to the Garden Alone” written by C. Austin Miles is taken from The New Century Hymnal

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