God alone is God. God is source, sustaining power, guiding light, and ultimately in charge. This confession of God’s centrality in all things pervades all of the lessons for this week.
This Sunday is a fine opportunity for the preacher to explore the human thirst to pronounce on the virtue of others.
The message of the passage appointed from Isaiah parallels this proclamation. It takes the form of a trial where the issue at hand is idolatry. These opening verses are in the form of an interrogation, challenging the people to bring evidence of any other who can be God. It is reminiscent of Elijah’s contest on Mt. Carmel. Following this text, God exposes the impotence of idols fashioned by hands. . . . The preacher can easily lift up all the pretender gods of our day and reveal them as false. Money, wealth, power, success, self-sufficiency, and nation are but a few examples of gods that call us to stray from the one true God. The preacher can easily ask Isaiah’s closing question: "You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me?"
–– The Rev. Timothy V. Olson, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Ankeny, Iowa
Other idolatry––the idolatry of our own judgment––is also a danger for us in every age. The parable of the wheat and weeds makes us prone to think in terms of final determinations: who is wheat and who is a weed.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Do we decide that a person is either "all wheat" or "all weed," from the moment of their planting? Surely not, for we would likely argue that no one of us is purely wheat, and we would hope that no one of us is purely weed. Yet, in stretching the image to suggest that the weeds are not people, but rather sin growing among all of us, we interpret the parable in a way that perhaps, according to Jesus’ explanation, was not intended. We are left with a metaphor that is thornier and more tangled than we might like—one in which, it might be said, we ourselves cannot distinguish weeds from wheat. Perhaps this is the point!
The Master doesn’t leave us with the charge to let the weeds grow and forget about them. The Master says, the weeds aren’t your problem. I’ll handle them. I’ll handle them at harvest time.
We know the end of this story. We know what’s going to happen at harvest time. We know that, no matter what it looks like now, the weeds will not have choked out all the grain. There will be plenty of grain to harvest. The Master wouldn’t have it any other way.
So what is our job in the meantime? Our job is not to worry about the weeds, to pluck them out, and our job is not to stop throwing seed in desperation at the weeds. . . . Our job is to live in the promise of victory at the end (a bountiful harvest for God’s kingdom) and failures in the short term (frustrations, weeds, and burnout all around). Knowing that failure is at least a high probability in the short term but God’s success is promised for the long term can lead to only one way of living: radical faithfulness. God’s given me a job to do and I’m going to do it no matter what the immediate results look like. Preach what’s been given to you and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Amen.
–– The Rev. Seth M. Moland-Kovash, All Saints Lutheran Church, Chicago, Illinois
Homily Service 38, no. 8 (2005).