In his sermon yesterday, the Rev. Chris Bowhay commented that once we decide not to worship, any excuse is as good as any other. He listed two common reasons: 1) time—we are too exhausted keeping up with the rest of our life to carve out time for worship, and 2) aesthetics—some sermons are boring or there is sappy music that doesn’t inspire us to change anything in our lives. He continued that these are self-justifying rationales, but he also offered two additional reasons that people don’t “do church”:
- churches are filled with hypocrites, and,
- there are so many bad things going on in the world as evidenced in Iraq, the Ukraine and in society, why should we worship a God that allows this destruction to happen?
It was a hard question for me. Outside of my time in college, I’ve always been a faithful church-goer, but there have been times in my life that church attendance has been out of obligation rather than desire.
Chris spoke of the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew 13 about the field with the good seed that was sowed with weeds by the enemy while everyone was asleep. I easily agreed with the slaves’ question, “Do you want us to go and gather up the weeds?” But Jesus replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. I will tell the reapers, collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into the house.”
The disciples were confused as was I. Why would Jesus not want us to stamp out the weeds that were infesting the good seeds?
Chris explained that people are not wicked, but we are impatient that God tolerates imperfection. We want a call to action, but instead we receive a call to patience. Jesus asks us to trust in him. He is the farmer and at the end of days, He will separate the wheat from the weeds.
Chris said that there is another part of the parable that is important for us to not forget. We must be doubly patient in our judgment of ourselves, too, remembering that God’s forgiveness is limitless, and that our very frustration with the world is a sign that God isn’t done with us yet. We observe a chain of fortune and misfortune in the world, but the good news is that God has interjected himself into our world through Jesus Christ. Christ is the grain of wheat that falls and dies, only to rise again. God will continue to surprise us if we trust in Him, and are patient.
Blessings, my friend,