A TIME TO PLANT AND A TIME TO HARVEST

The two parables in today’s gospel passages are pictures of the Kingdom of God. There are various ways to interpret the first parable. Some would say it is a picture of God scattering the seed, and then when the grain is ripe for harvest, God does the harvesting. I prefer a second reading of this parable. I think the parable points to the fact that God oversees this field for harvest that is symbolic of the Kingdom of God, but he uses us to co-labor with the Holy Spirit to do the work of bringing this divine harvest. More precisely it is the work of the Church of Jesus Christ. And, the church has been involved in this labor of love, accompanied by the Holy Spirit of Pentecost from generation to generation.

Some do the planting, some the watering, and some the weeding and other work that farms need done all the time, but at the end of the day the Kingdom of God is Gods Work. Paul alludes to this co-working of God and humans this way: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each.  For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building”. (1 Cor. 3:5-9)

We are all called to be part of this work. Some of you will do the work of the evangelist, scattering seed, sharing the “good news” of the gospels, working for justice, standing up against tyranny and falsehood, and promoting the love of God in this world, all of us doing our part to promote the Kingdom of God. As we say in the Lords Prayer at the Eucharist Table every Sunday: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.

The message of this parable is that God is in charge, not us. At the end of the day we can rest assured as the Psalmist says:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)

It’s easy to get so involved in our ministry and the methodology of the way we are used to doing things, that we miss those guiding lights of Scripture: Passages like this: “Let the Spirit guide you in all things”. “Walk in step with the Spirit”.  “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it”. (Hebrews 4:1)

This picture of the kingdom of God is compared to the cycle of a field from the scattering of the seed to the harvest time. And, since this harvest has been going on for hundreds of years, it is like we entered the field to work at some time, and at some time in the future we will exit this field, referred to as the Kingdom of God on this earth, to be ushered into the Kingdom of God in eternity, as is referred to in our second reading this morning: “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

In the parable of the field, and the long process of working and waiting for the harvest time, it is a time of days and night. These days and these nights that we work and wait, we encounter injustice in our world. We encounter systems that are enemies of Gods mercy, enemies of the principles of the Kingdom of God, and these acts of injustice and anti-love are encountered daily. We are bombarded daily with situations and actions that stand against the love of God. It is our responsibility to stand against these things and to make our voices heard.

To be an advocate for the suppressed, a voice for the marginalized and a voice for the church against practices of separating children from parents at our borders; being a voice for homeless and the marginalized, the persecuted, the weak, the hungry and the disenfranchised that live next to us in our communities. The Prophet Isaiah says to us: “Come now let us reason together”; and the Prophet Amos “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”. (Amos 5:24)

This is our work, and may this be our prayer and our hope, as we chanted this morning from the psalm for the day: Now this I know:

The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
they are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call! (Psalm 20:7-9)

And my dear brothers and sisters, please remember at the end of the day when we lay our weary bodies down to rest, remember this promise:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-)

 

Amen

The Reverend Dr. David Madsen