meditation: on the parable of the weeds

It may be possible to see cosmological significance in the parable of the weeds, our reading for the Church today. I think of what Justin Martyr said about the logos spermatikos: those seeds of the word spread throughout every human society and culture throughout time. Each seed only holds a portion, an echo, a reflection of the Truth of varying quality, which has only been revealed fully and completely in Jesus himself. It is the wise evangelist who can water those seeds and help it grow into a unique expression of the kingdom of heaven – a process called inculturation, but that is another post. What intrigues me about this possible, parallel interpretation of the parable is that we always see the adversary seeks to create counterfeits to corrupt God’s plan of salvation. We see this evidenced in the dialogue between him and the angels:

[Jesus] answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.

This counterfeit seed, this daimonion spermatikos, a demonic or fallen word, commingles with the logos spermatikos. As Paul said, the god of this age has blinded us (2 Corinthians 4:4). These whispered lies fall upon our willing ears, sprouting into more lies and do violence to the inviolable, divine spark of God within us all. Man has justified violence precisely because his fallen nature is incapable of distinguishing the demonic seed from the divine seed. He has waged war, abused women and children, bastardized his religion, and subverted dignity and rights through capitalistic injustices – to name only the most glaring – because he cannot see. Philosophers, theologians, and now economists, striving to create a moral order, flounder because to them the edges between light and darkness blur, as if we are at a continual dusk. The demonic word is at the root of conception of reality and identity, it is written into the fabric of our social institutions. Every person and institution is bound up at the root with the weeds: even if we were to try to pull up the weeds, we would pull up everything good with it.

We are not without hope. As Jesus also said: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” I see the woman as the Church, the yeast as the kingdom, and the flour is the world. Just as we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, so the world can be transformed such that his kingdom come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Church has been given the keys, and the authority to cast out Satan, to rewrite the fabric of reality and identity. Yet we do not take it. We alone carry the fullness of grace and truth – the word of Christ, the perfect Logos. Yet we are quiet about him. We must work the yeast into the flour, only then may the whole world see and partake of the Bread of Life.


Christians & Celebrating Halloween

This will not be a somber post, let’s get that out of the way. And it’s my first one in a while because, yeah, two reading seminars in History will dominate your life. But I wanted to wade in (briefly) with a different take on the entire Halloween and Christians discussion.

In short, look past it, and remember why we celebrated it in the first place. Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve, the day before All Saints Day, the day instituted by the church to remember our dead, the martyrs who shed their blood for the faith. Rather than ask whether we should celebrate Halloween, we could ask how we ought to remember our dead: do we visit their graves? Light a candle and pray? Celebrate a Sabbath in their honor? Meditate on their lives? We too often consume ourselves with how to respond or react that we forget we’re on the offense, not the defense. Or, that non-response is even more effective.

Remembrance of the dead is a long Christian tradition, dating back to our earliest years. No matter what one believes about life after death, we all acknowledge it is important to remember our dead – and that is the essence of Halloween. To remember the power of their life, honor them for their sacrifices, praise God that we were influenced by them, and walk forward strengthened by their example.

Tertullian said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Let’s allow their example to plant a seed in us that will sprout and advance the kingdom of God. Now, if we did this, instead of bickering over whether your kid should be a vampire or Martin Luther for Halloween, how much better off would we be?

As a final aside, don’t dress your kid up as historical figures of the Reformation… I read that on one site and threw up in my mouth a little bit. We already get a bad rap for being lame, let’s not make it worse, shall we? And non-participation is a buzz kill, and Jesus was no buzz kill.

Say It Better: ‘We’ve Got to Invite More People to Church’

The power of story is undeniable. As Christians we tell the story of Jesus by our sayings, our tone, and so on. Our sayings construct a metanarrative that we don’t wish to have misinterpreted or misapplied. Understanding what we say and how it is said in a cultural context, and how others interpret it, is critical to ensure our every word is seasoned with salt, so that we know how to answer people. We have an affinity for breaking down Greek and Hebrew words to examine their fullness of meaning; we ought to do the same with our “Christianese.”

In this 3-part blog series, I will try to pick apart three common Christianese sayings. I chose these three because, frankly, they rub me the wrong way, and I think we can say them better. (more…)