Sunday (Zoom) message: “Wait…and watch what God is up to”

Dayspring ZOOM Connect Worship, 7th Sunday after Pentecost, July 19, 2020, 10 am MDT 

Minister: The Rev. Dr. Heinrich Grosskopf                   

Welcoming Elder: Gina Kottke

Worship Arts Coordinator (Guitarist): Gord McCrostie            

Pianist: Binu Kapadia

Soloist: Linda Farrah-Basford

Gathering

Music:   Jesus, life of all the world

Jesus, life of all the world,
source and sum of all creation,
Son of God and Son of man,
only hope of our salvation,
Living Word for all our need,
life you give is life indeed.

Life of freedom, gladness, truth,
all our guilt and fear transcending,
life that leaps beyond the grave,
God’s own life that knows no ending;
life eternal, gift unpriced,
freely ours in Jesus Christ!

Yours is life that makes us stand
firm for truth, all wrong defying;
yours the strength by which we strive,
on your holy arm relying;
yours the war we wage on sin,
yours the pow’r by which we win.

Jesus, life of all the world,
you are Lord of ev’ry nation;
by your Holy Spirit’s pow’r
 
make your church your incarnation
till our lives of truth and grace
show our world your human face!

Words: Margaret Clarkson; 1983, © The Hymn Society, Hope Publishing Co.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved

Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…”                      

Welcome and announcements:

NOTE: Welcoming Elder always indicates that this is Dayspring Presbyterian Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Call to Worship

L: We gather in the presence of God;
P: We gather to worship and praise.
L: We gather in joy and expectancy;
P: We gather in beauty and wonder.
L: Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening;
P: Speak your Word of life to us, dear Lord.

Music:   With the Lord as my guide

With the Lord as my guide
I will walk through the desert,
rest by the water, run in the wind.
With the Lord by my side
I will stand on the mountain,
drink from the fountain of love deep within.

With the Lord as my guide
I will see all the talents,
accept the balance of who I am.
With the Lord by my side
say yes to the calling,
fear not the falling, trust in God’s plan.

With the Lord as my guide
I will work with my sister,
care for my brother, bend with their pain.
With the Lord by my side
we will rise up together,
strengthen each other, courage regain.

With the Lord as my guide
I will rise in the morning,
praise for the dawning beauty of day.
With the Lord by my side
I will sing, sing forever,
always a lover, seeking God’s way.

Words and music: Jim Strathdee; © 1977, Desert Flower Music
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved

Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayers of Approach

Creator God, in you we live and move and have our being: You alone have been our help and guide through good times and bad. You alone give us the strength we need to face the challenges around us. You alone will be rest for our bodies and souls. To you we turn for wisdom; in your presence, we will find the peace and comfort we long for. Fill us with your Spirit in this time of worship; Open our minds and hearts, so that we may see as you see, love as you love, and follow your ways for the sake of Christ our Lord.

Prayer for God’s help:

Lord, we know how much we always need to rely on You for strength. We pray for wisdom, for patience during these pandemic times. Would you guide us as peacemakers in a world of so much hatred and division. We pray for many who are dealing with illness, those who want it kept quiet, as well as those whom we now bring before you… We pray for peace and comfort for Chris Thomson while she is receiving home care. We also for Louis from Fort McMurray who is having radiation treatment at the Cross Cancer Institute. God of wisdom, your thoughts are not our thoughts, your ways are not our ways. As we listen to the scriptures, stir our hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit so that we understand your desire for the world and resolve to do your will in Jesus’ name.

Prayer of confession:

God who sees and knows our inmost thoughts and our thoughtless actions, The truth of our lives is this: we are often impetuous and do not seek your wisdom; we are often stubborn and do not practice mercy; we are often arrogant and do not act with love;

we are often anxious and do not trust in you. Forgive who we have been, amend who we are, and direct who we shall be. For the sake of Christ, our Lord.

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Dear friends, remember that God is slow to be angry and quick to forgive; kind and gracious to all. Know that your sins are forgiven through the grace of Jesus Christ, and forgive those who have sinned against you as he taught us.

Children’s time:  Saúl Carvajal (Prayer & Lord’s Prayer)

Music offeringOn eagles’ wings – Linda Farrah-Basford

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord
Who abide in His shadow for life
Say to the Lord: “My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!”
 

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

For to His angels He’s given a command
To guard you in all of your ways
Upon their hands they will bear you up
Lest you dash your foot against a stone

Words and music: Michael Joncas; © 1979, New Dawn Music
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved

Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture reading: Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43 (New Revised Standard Version)  Gina Kottke

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 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.’” …

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Message: “Wait…and watch what God is up to”

I love it when the gospel speaks with lots of hope into our times. The many ways in which God works in our world can inspire us with awe. The parable of the weeds among the wheat is another inspiring parable. However, at first glance, it wouldn’t appear to be so hopeful.

It is so much easier to look at the parable by starting to think in “either-or” categories, a type of binary way of thinking, bad or good, evil or devout, weed or wheat, unsuccessful or successful. The problem with this is that we are only working with absolutes. Think of a successful person, does one only get that category, and then the opposite, unsuccessful? Of course, it doesn’t make sense. There is everything in between. There is always room for growth, at the beginning of one’s career, for example, there is a moderate measure of success. Later on, it could increase. Eventually, as a person matures, they could be described as fairly successful and sometimes very successful.

This is just a way of getting at the binary thinking that happens quite a bit in our society, making the people in the middle actually feel like they might not be measuring up.

God, through the parable of Jesus, is up to something else. God doesn’t work in binary terms. God loves us all just as we are, and will always, through Jesus Christ, love us fully. Of course, doing justice counts. Doing justice we see as a result of something else that happened first. When we do justice we are thanking God for first loving us so incredibly and unconditionally.

Now, when we look at our parable that we read this morning, we see that there is another party involved in Jesus’ description. There is an enemy. Matthew says, “while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed seeds among the wheat and then went away.” Without anybody being aware of it happening, the seeds sowed among the wheat occurred overnight.

Yesterday evening they weren’t there and this morning they appeared as if out of the blue. That feels quite unsettling.

There are three other times that we encounter the word “enemies” in the Gospel of Matthew. The first time is in 5:43-44, where we hear that we are told to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This should give us pause: If these enemies are destined for a “furnace of fire” as our parable describes it in verse 42, why should we love them in the here and now? Further, God – the one who judges all of us – causes the sun to rise on both the evil and the good (5:45), without distinction. What do we do with this paradox?

The second reference to “enemies” is in 10:36, where Jesus tells the disciples that He is sending them out as sheep among wolves, where “one’s enemies will be members of one’s own household.” This too stops us right in our tracks. What does it mean that deep divisions can exist even among those to whom we feel closest, including our church families? What would make us enemies of one another? And in such a situation, how do we know if we are the enemy or the good? What is it that shows which one we are, enemy or good?

The third occurrence of “enemies” is in Matthew 22:24, where Jesus speaks of the prophecy of David with respect to the Messiah, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.” Ultimately, according to this parable, the enemies who sow weeds among the wheat will be defeated. They will be cast out from the presence of God where they will weep and gnash their teeth. Clearly, we can’t just turn “enemies” into nameless opponents on the other side of a sort of great divide. Rather, when Matthew speaks of enemies, it all points to something much more complex. The lines are blurred. [i]

Bear further in mind that “zizania” for weeds in the original language is a plant that grows in Palestine which resembles wheat in many ways but is worthless.[ii] Some translations prefer the word “tares” for these weeds. Checking into that, I found that “tares” are actually darnel, a seed hardly identifiable from the wheat seed, and immature wheat and darnel look alike. To try and destroy the darnel would mean destroying much of the wheat, and separating one from the other would be beyond the servants’ abilities.[iii]

By trying to pull out these weeds between the wheat would just be very foolish, Jesus says. Pulling out weeds prematurely could have many meanings. Wait!

Don’t be too hasty in judging over the people in this life. Wait, wait…!

You see, it’s so easy to read this scripture as though Jesus was simply talking about different kinds of people. But when we read it closely, it seems more that Jesus is describing two “natures” within one human being. Paul says something very similar in Romans 7 that we heard two weeks ago, on July 5, when John was leading worship. Paul describes the desire to do good inside yet also the sin that is at war against it within his body. Jesus recognizes that every human has the inclination to do both good and evil, to be both “wheat” (nourishment and seed of God) for the world and “weed” (bitterness and death) in the world.[iv]

What’s really tricky, is that they both not only can exist and grow together at the root of our personality but sometimes the two can be unrecognizable. Sometimes it’s hard to see which one is which, especially in a complex world and in complicated situations.

That’s why only God, as Jesus explained it, has the ability to judge a good plant from a weed in the final harvest.

What examples do we have? In talking with a friend, he mentioned how easily we confuse a person’s role in politics with the person’s personality. It doesn’t matter which stripe or colour we are, we are often caught just wanting to axe some persons. Is that really the way to go? It turns out to show how impatient we are, we aren’t prepared to wait.

The wonder of it all is that God is up to something really different. Let us rather wait. God is indeed able to change weeds into wheat. It might well be a matter of God who has so much patience for us that is such that we might stop acting on God’s behalf and watch for what God is truly doing to set this world right again.

The chaos, all the disruption,[v] is beyond what we would normally be able to fix. We want to weed the garden and the gardener is saying, “Wait! Watch what God is up to.” Amen

Music:   I heard the voice of Jesus say

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, O weary one, lay down
Your head upon my breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
So weary, worn, and sad;
I found him in a resting place,
And he has made me glad.

Take my yoke upon you
And learn of me
For my yoke is easy
And my burdens are light.
 

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light;
Look unto me; your morn shall rise,
And all your day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk
Till traveling days are done.

Music arrangement Ralph Vaughn Williams; © Oxford University Press
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved

Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayer of gratitude:

Lord, our thanks go out to You for being the patient One, walking with us. You guide us from a state of being weed, towards maturity, toward what You want us to be. Thank you for your Son’s restoring work in our lives through the spirit. Thank you for the means of worshipping through Zoom. Thank you for life, for the beauty of summer, the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, for the birds in the air, the flowers in bloom. Thank you for each season, also for fall, winter and spring as they each bring forth the good that you have in mind for your children. Amen

Reflection on giving:

We give to support the ministry and mission of our congregation. During this time of COVID-19 restrictions, our members have been generous. Thank you for that generosity. However, because we have lost the contributions to our budget from the organizations that use our building, we are running a shortfall. So we all need to dig deep. We do our giving in the various ways described on the screen and in the Dayspring Weekly News.

Let us pray:  Minister

Gracious God, we offer you what we have, at least a part of it, thankful that your love is overflowing. Bless these gifts with your love so that their goodness will overflow to meet the needs of those who cry out to you and to us, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Blessing: Minister

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:13)


[i] Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, by Holly Hearon, on workingpreacher.org

[ii] A description of what weeds (“zizania”) are at https://biblehub.com/greek/2215.htm

[iii] How “tares” or “darnel” is used in the “parable of weeds among the wheat”, https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/5075Darnel.html

[iv] The Complex Human, by Lori Wagner on sermons.com

[v] “Stop Weeding and Start Watching” by Joy J. Moore on workingpreacher.org


Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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