By Scott Baker
On Sunday we heard Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds, “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.”
And after what I felt was a relatively appropriate sermon on the above text, we moved on to the Nicene creed and the rest of the liturgy. Simultaneously, we were live streaming our worship service via Zoom. About halfway through the worship service, and after hearing the gospel and the sermon, lo and behold, we were “Zoom bombed.” For those who are unfamiliar with this newly added term to our English lexicon, a “Zoom bomb” is the intrusion of unwanted and uninvited people to the meeting/worship service/conversation. Unfortunately for Emmanuel, the intruder was as noxious as the weeds in Jesus’ parable. The person spouted profanity, and all sorts of crude things, as well as threatened harm to the church.
Needless to say, we shut the live stream down as quickly as we could. Additionally, the irony and poignancy of the incident wasn’t lost on a single one of us. Someone once said that coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous. I saw it as the movement of the Holy Spirit teaching us something very valuable.
As I drove home after our service I reflected on the morning and realized that the parable we had just heard came true in real life. In his parable, Jesus doesn’t candy coat the fact that evil exists in the world. In fact, he tackles the issues head on. I think part of what he is trying to tell his listeners is that the way we measure who wins and who loses is all wrong. The weeds, and in particular the enemy that sowed them, has a very myopic view of winning and losing — it’s an earth-bound way of looking at such a dynamic. At the end of the day, the enemy a.k.a. The Devil, doesn’t realize that God is the ultimate thresher of the harvest. So, what do we do? In the meantime, we live side by side with those who make poor choices. We live side by side with those who seemingly try to choke us out and rob us of our nutrients. We don’t retaliate, or exact vengeance, we are to be about the business of being fruitful and producing. Make no mistake about it we live in the midst of contested soil. We live in the midst of those who do not share our nature our values or our concerns. Yet it is not our concern to say who’s in and who’s out — that’s the concern of him who owns the land. We are planted to bring about a bountiful and plentiful harvest.
THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.