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God’s Garden or Darwin’s?

A sermon preached by Christopher L. Webber at the Church of the Incarnation, San Francisco, on July 21, 2014.

The gospels last week and this week are giving us gardening lessons and that’s useful in mid-July. I was coming up 23rd Avenue last week and somewhere between Judah and Lawton I came across a garden about two feet wide and four feet long where someone was raising corn. Now, the Bible tells us that God made us to take care of a garden and that’s still a very strong instinct in lots of us and we try to act on it even in the unpromising soil of 23rd Avenue. I think that’s why the Bible gives us lessons in gardening.

Last week’s gospel was about planting which is the easy part. This week’s is about weeding and that’s the hard part – but weeding is what gardening in mid-summer is all about especially if you go away for a few days as I did one summer and had to spend the rest of the summer trying to get back in control.  This morning’s gospel is very helpful in that connection. It says in effect, “Don’t bother!  You’ve got weeds?  Don’t worry!  Let them grow!  Let everything that comes up grow together until the harvest and you can sort it out then.”

Now that’s great advice: always put off til tomorrow what you don’t want to do today!  You know, there are people who read Jesus’ parables and say: “See how much he knew about sheep or about housekeeping or about fishing. But did he really understand gardening if he thought you didn’t need to do weeding?  Would this approach really work?

Actually, It just might, in some cases.  When I used to pull up the weeds in the corn, for example, some of the corn would tend to topple and I’d have to hill it up to keep it from falling over. If I left it alone it might do better.  I remember a time when I was pulling up weeds around the tomatoes and found myself with an uprooted tomato plant in my hand. You get careless and lose what you were trying to save.

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