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Summary: The parable of the wheat and the tares is not all about hypocrisy; it is also a gospel reading, full of strength through humility, and atonement. Read on!

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Title: The wheat and the tares, and the gnashing of teeth.

This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole,

Ayrshire, Scotland on the 20th July 2014

(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Summary: The parable of the wheat and the tares is not all about hypocrisy; it is also a gospel reading, full of strength through humility, and atonement. Read on!

Genesis 28:10-19a Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23 Romans 8:12-25 Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)

Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Jesus put before the crowd another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 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?' He answered, `An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, `No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 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.'"

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." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"

Introduction:

That was a fire and brimstone reading that, Eh! … Being “thrown into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. … Well, talking about gnashing of teeth, Christine always has an answer for me, … could you imagine me saying to her, “I do not want to go to that church again”, and she will answer “why”, and I will say, “well it is because full of hypocrites” and she will reply, “do not worry dear, they will certainly make room for one more”. Now I think that is funny, but what is not funny, is that I am doing the service, I am doing the sermon … and this reading today is certainly about hypocrisy, … and as always, … I am the last one to speak on such matters, so please forgive me as I muddle my way through this sermon, being the biggest hypo-crypt of all.

And that takes me to conflict in the church … well conflict in general as we do not need to look to hard these days to discover that we are living in a world full of conflict. There is conflict between nations … between political parties … between towns and cities … between neighbours … between our families and of course … conflict between our spouses; … so why should the church be any different?

I mean … conflict in the world can be understood … but conflict in the church is a completely different story; there is conflict between the religious sects, between church leaders and between the members of the congregation itself to name but a few; and I am well aware that conflict in this church is minimal, but why should there be conflict between God’s children … God’s brothers and sisters after all?

Well, Jesus tells us why in this Parable … he show us that there is conflict in this earthly kingdom, and we are not to be fooled … and so he gives us two reasons for this conflict. The first is the most obvious … yet rarely acknowledged … that there is an enemy called Satan who is the direct enemy of God, and to get at God he gets at his children, and there is no better way to do this than by causing conflict in his church, … true, then the second reason for conflict is because there are false Christians in the congregations, those whom Satan has no problem in using. Jesus himself said in, Matthew 7:21 “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but only he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven”. These wolves in sheep’s clothing operate as Satan’s fifth column, his undercover agents in the church, and these two cannot be separated until the end of the age, the final harvest, so they will keep on causing trouble.

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