Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered by
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 19, 2020
“Wait Until Harvest”
A teacher opened his Bible. He turned to the Sermon on the Mount and read these words of Jesus to his class: “You are the salt of the earth. . . You are the light of the world.”
The teacher closed the Bible, sat at the edge of his desk, and said to the students: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could weed out the Church?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could remove from it all the half-hearted Christians?
Think of the impact the Church would have on the world if it had only committed people in it!
“A million committed Christians would be a far better witness to Jesus than 25 million half-hearted Christians.”
Suddenly the students began to see his point. They began to nod in agreement. But, one girl in the back of the room raised her hand and said: “I agree with what you say. But who would decide who’s to be weeded out and who’s to stay?”
A flurry of hands went up. One boy said, “I think almost anybody could decide that. I can give you the list of names right now.”
It would seem that in our world today the lines of demarcation are not being drawn in the sand. But rather they are being etched in granite to decide who’s in and whose out, whose right or wrong, or who’s a righteous saint or a hell-bound sinner.
Some would say, “Look at the predicament we are in, right now!” The world is going to hell in hand basket. There are a whole lot of weeds out in the world, Father. Frankly, I’m willing to get my weed-wacker out, and go to work.
This raises a question. Would it be good to weed out the Church from time to time?
Would it help everyone, even half-hearted Christians?
Would it shake people up and make them more committed?
Would it help the Church become what Jesus called it to be: salt of the earth and light of the world?
Today’s parable of the weeds and the wheat may shed some light on these questions.
Apparently, good quality wheat seeds have been sown in the soil and overnight, an enemy comes and sows’ tares—weeds in amongst the wheat. Understand, the weed referred to by Jesus was a curse to Palestinian farmers. Ancient writers described it as a kind of “fool’s wheat.” In the early stages of its growth, it looked very similar to real wheat. This was one of the reasons that the owner told his workers to wait until harvesttime. They might pull up some real wheat, thinking it was fool’s wheat.
And it’s right here that the parable sheds light on the question about weeding out halfhearted Christians from the Church.
Just as workers might mistake real wheat for fool’s wheat, so we might mistake committed Christians for halfhearted Christians.
Even more tragically, we might condemn someone who seemed to be a half-hearted Christian but had potential to be become a committed Christian.
The point is this: Judgement is not ours to pass. Judgement should be passed only at the end of a person’s life by God, not in the middle of it by people.
That’s such an important point.
So, you may be wondering what you can do today and tomorrow to make a difference
Maybe, we have to be content to live in a world and a church where saints and sinners live side by side. A church full of saints might be nice church, but it wouldn’t be Christ’s Church. As Henry Beecher put it “The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.”
For when we recover our God consciousness and our ability to listen, learn, lament, love others unconditionally, we begin to value every life, regardless of skin color, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or creed.
~ Fr. Joseph C. Alsay