plucking weeds

plucking weeds

amelia-bartlett-78174

photo credit Amelia Bartlett

Thoughts on Matthew 5:21-32

It all begins in the heart, for bad or good. Murder, adultery are the fruit of a bad seed. Uproot the seed and the fruit will not appear. Easier said than done. Living in the country has taught me how expedient it is to whack off the top of the weed rather than dig out the root. Expedient, yes, efficient, no. We had a poison ivy expert come and give a quote on removing the poison ivy and other invasive weeds on our property. He said it is a long, slow, labor intensive process. It takes years to rid a parcel of land of poison ivy. Roundup shrivels the leaves, but it doesn’t kill the plant.

Jesus says poisonous, death-dealing fruit such as murder and adultery need to be plucked out, not just suppressed.

In my little parochial world I do not have much worry about committing adultery or murder, but what fruit do the seeds of lust or anger bear in my life? Let’s pause and let you examine me, Holy Spirit.

The word that comes to my mind as I sit quietly with the question is pettiness. Ouch. Dictionary.com defines petty as “behavior characterized by an undue concern for trivial matters, especially in a small-minded, spiteful way.” How am I petty? Irritated that Jack doesn’t load the dishwasher the way I think it should be loaded. Frustration with B’s disregard for my time schedule. (he says he’ll be here in 25 minutes and shows up an hour later.) Pettiness raises her head because I don’t have anyplace I have to be, so it really doesn’t matter if he shows up at noon or one o’clock!

I know I can’t not feel the emotional reactions I have to these situations. Feelings are feelings, they are amoral. But what they can lead to is definitely a moral issue. Lord, pluck out the anger that produces such pettiness in my life. Heal the wounded place that demands my way, my time, me, me, me. Plant your great love within my heart. When I notice pettiness emerging I will bring my soul and the source of my pettiness into your presence. In your light small-minded, spiteful thoughts diminish. It’s a long, slow, labor intensive process, but you are on the job. Thank you and amen.

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What to do with people who voted differently than you.

Thoughts on Matthew 5:20-26

Hearing these words must have been discouraging for the crowd. How could they, ordinary folk who were busy living their lives be more righteous than the people whose whole existence was dedicated to religiosity? What? OK, I can manage not killing someone, but to never be angry? to never use my words to describe another’s flaws? to never label someone a fool? Such things are natural, normal, my right, not reasons for judgment and hell. (seriously, hell?)

But you state clearly your standard of righteousness. To be right before God, I must be right with my neighbor, even if they are wrong. I must do what I can to be at peace with the one who has a problem with me. This places unity and relationship above correctness. In this political climate of finger pointing and accusations how do we manage this?

Jesus doesn’t dismiss the differences between people, he doesn’t tell us to abandon our principles or our understanding of justice, he acknowledges there will be reasons to go to court, but he emphasizes the value of maintaining the relationship. “Make friends with your accuser,” he teaches. In Greek, the phrase translated make friends, means to “wish one well, to be be well disposed, of a peaceable spirit.” I am to desire my accusers well being; I am to approach him with my soul grounded in peace. This is possible because I know the only one who has a legitimate charge against me has made a way for us to be reconciled. God has made me, the one who has violated his law of love over and over again, to be at peace with him. How could I not offer the same peace to the one who I accuse or who accuses me?

Lord, whether we think Donald Trump is your gift or Satan’s tool, have mercy and teach your people the way of peace. Thank you and amen.