Summary: To be a strong church we must include the "weeds" of society

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Matt 13:24-43 – “Seeds, Weeds, and Growth”

It is a pleasure to be here with you in person this morning. I hear you had to sit through a rather long audio sermon of mine a couple of weeks ago. Don’t worry though lunch is very important to me as well so I promise not to keep you here too long.

Let me start with a short story before we get into scripture.

A young woman about 20 years old had been living on the streets of a suburban neighborhood for about five years because of her severely abusive alcoholic parents. She was a pleasant looking young woman behind the tattered and dirty clothes, oily hair, and dirty makeup free face. Somehow she had managed to avoid the alcohol her parents lived for, and the drugs that soothed most of the other homeless people in her area. She had a little old Bible that an aunt had given her when she was 11 years old, that she kept in her one canvas bag that held all of her belongings.

She got by like most homeless folks with rummaging for bottles and cans, and asking the odd person for spare change, but she never gave herself up to prostitution or stealing. Through all the years of torment her only refuge was this Bible that she had learned inside and out, which of course led her to depend on the Lord and love him, she had too much pain though, and not enough skills to get out of the situation she was in, but tried to live as close as she could to how the Bible instructed.

For years she had watched people go to the church a couple blocks away from the place she slept alone at night in the bushes. She would look at all the well dressed people get out of their cars and walk into church as families. She would sit in the parking lot and listen to the muffled music of the worship service, she would pray and read her Bible until the end of the service, and then watch as the people mingled and laughed and hugged before they got back in their cars and drove off. This was her church service. She dreamed of being like “those people” but believed that she could never fit in there.

Finally one day she decided that she would take the money she had made from her collections and instead of food, she would go to value village and buy the prettiest dress she could find. She didn’t know how a dress should fit and felt very uncomfortable wearing it, but she bought what she thought was a very pretty dress. The following Sunday she got up, gathered all the courage she could muster, and put on her dress. She had no place to take a shower and no makeup, but she tried her best to clean her face and do something with her hair. She trembled with nervousness as she made her way to the church and tried to sneak in so that she wouldn’t have to shake hands with greeters. Of course there was no place to hide so she walked through the foyer attracting a few looks of disgust but mostly people just looked away and ignored her. It took everything she had not to run out of the building, but she stayed and found a seat in the back corner of the sanctuary where she closed her eyes and prayed until the service started moments later. She sobbed not so silently through the entire service knowing that she would probably not put herself through this again, but feeling so ecstatic about having had the chance to at least be a part of one church service in her life. To experience some of what these people did.

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