Food Pantry and Clothing Closet
The food pantry will remain open, but we will give guests their box outside. The food pantry continues to be extremely busy. Thank you to all who continue to volunteer their time for this ministry. The clothing closet will be closed until further notice.
If you are interested in working in our food pantry, please sign up for a shift at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0E44ACA62EA6FF2-food or contact Anne and/or Bonnie.
Update on Members Hospitalized or receiving care
Art Raney: During a conversation Tom and Julie had with Art recently, he made the comment that he would not still be here without all the prayers. So, keep sending those prayers of healing for Art! He can feel them. It has been more difficult and lonelier this spring and summer since he hasn’t been allowed visitors (even family) due to COVID-19. He would love to get phone calls and cards/letters. His room phone number is 563.484.3570.
Dru Novak: Dru was recently diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. They have set up a Caring Bridge Site to keep friends and family informed. https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/drunovak and would appreciate prayers. Michael can be contacted at 317-446-3504, but please text him first with your name and ask if it is a good time to talk (he is still working).
Message by Pastor Pokora – July 19, 7th Sunday after Pentecost
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
I don’t know about you, but of all the parables Jesus tells, this one about the weeds growing among the wheat bothers me most. In many situations, I want to occur what the farm hands in this story are ready to do: pull up the weeds, throw the bums out, see the world free from the scumbags, and do all this right away. But that is not how the story goes. The landowner won’t allow such direct action. In the face of this, we need to look at the story carefully.
Two topics deserve more explanation than this parable itself is able to give them. The first is the weeds. The second is one of the landowner’s words.
Let’s look at the weeds first. The gardeners among us may raise a suspicious eyebrow at not pulling out the weeds until harvest time. Certainly this is no way to run a farm.
But consider the weeds that have grown up in the wheat field are an annual grass that looks very much like wheat. Distinguishing one from another in the early stages of growth is nearly impossible. As the plants mature, the roots of weeds and wheat intertwine and become almost inseparable. Yet separating them is necessary. Unless the weeds are removed, then flour made from the wheat will be ruined by the weeds, which are both bitter and mildly toxic. The usual solution is to harvest the plants, spread them on a flat surface, and then remove the weeds, which by this stage are a different color than the wheat.
So the weeds can be separated from the wheat only at the proper time, following the harvest. This brings us to something the landowner says. “Let both of them grow together until the harvest.” This may make sense to us in the context of growing wheat in a field where there are weeds. Where it dismays us is elsewhere in the world, where we want to clean house, or at least expect God to do so.
From our perspective, who are the weeds growing like crazy in the wheat field of the world? These are the plants we want to yank out by the roots.
These are the people we want to lock up and then throw away the key. These are the people we want to strap in the electric chair. These are the people we want to bomb into oblivion.
There are times when many of us, at least momentarily, see this as the obvious solution. We want the wheat field of the world to flourish with wheat, and not to be scarred by weeds.
Or we may sublimate our rage, our impotence, our despair into a question about God. Why doesn’t God do something about those people (whoever they are)? Where is God when they commit their horrible crimes?
The parable does not deny that there are weeds in the wheat. It does not suggest for a moment that the world is free from evil. Instead, the weeds are all too visible. The landowner knows what’s happened — “An enemy has done this!” . Yes, the world is a terribly broken place. What is meant to be a wheat field is hosting countless weeds.
And so we hear from the landowner, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” This may perplex us. This may baffle us. It sounds as if the landowner is resigned to letting his fertile field become little more than a weed patch.
This parable, however, invites us to costly discipleship. The very real evil that others do is not to be answered by pulling out the weeds, by attacking and destroying the people responsible. Doing so only adds to the harm. Instead, our response is to be forgiveness, and a willingness to trust in the purposes of God.
In this view, God the landowner practices forgiveness and patience. And by his example the same approach is recommended to us. Certainly this patience and forgiveness appears to be how God functions in the world. Look around you, and see everywhere in the world the weeds and the wheat growing together, sometimes in dramatic, horrible ways –sometimes in ordinary, ugly, everyday ways.
God gives us amazing latitude to make choices, to do right, even to do wrong to the point of inflicting grievous harm on others and on ourselves. God does not pull people out of the mire of their mistakes by condemning them, but by forgiving them. It’s a strange way to run the world, I tell you, and sometimes it seems scandalous. Often we would like the Lord to hurl thunderbolts — only at our enemies, of course. But the record indicates God works differently than that.
The most convincing entry in this record is the story of Jesus. What does he teach? Nowhere does he even suggest that in this life we get paid back in kind for the evil we have done. Instead, he goes around telling strange and scandalous parables about patience and forgiveness, like that one today about a landowner who suffers the weeds and wheat to grow together through the many months leading up to harvest.
But Jesus doesn’t rest content with parables. When his enemies nail him to the cross, he forgives them. Risen from the dead, he forgives those disciples who skipped out on him during his hour of need, and sets them up in the business of spreading his forgiveness to anybody who needs it, which is to say everybody.
Yes there is something greater than justice here. There is divine forgiveness, the willingness to let weeds and wheat grow together for a season because they are somehow inseparable, the recognition that revenge resolves nothing, but only increases evil. Whether we are always capable of living in the light of that truth, it is clear from this parable, clearer still from the cross, that forgiveness and forbearance are God’s way of working with a broken world. This approach may leave us profoundly uneasy, even at odds with God, but without this forbearance, this forgiveness, not one of us stands a chance.
Our preoccupation with the weeds must not prevent us from recognizing the wondrous conclusion of the parable: how indeed the harvest happens, an abundance of wheat is gathered in, enough to make landowner and farm hands rejoice together. The weeds in the field have no power to stop the realization of this bounty. The seed was good, and it bore, through adversity, a fruitful harvest. And so the parable ends on a note of brilliant triumph about that harvest: “the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Important Upcoming Dates (dates are subject to change due to Covid-19)
Forum: The forum that was scheduled for Sunday, March 22 will take place later, date still to be determined. At the forum titled “Vision for the Future” we will discuss what lies ahead for All Saints Lutheran Church.
Semi-Annual Congregation Meeting (Note this is the 2nd date change): The May semi-annual congregation meeting will be combined with the November/December semi-annual congregation meeting which will take place on Sunday, December 6, 2020 (elections, celebrations, and budget).
Thanksgiving in July: For the fifth consecutive year, Churches United of the Quad City Area will partner with local businesses and churches for Thanksgiving in July, a state-wide, non-perishable food and essential items drive. Churches United competes with other food collection agencies in Iowa to see who can collect the most goods for their community. In 2019, CUQCA won.
All donations collected by Churches United will stay in the Quad Cities area and go directly to our 26 food pantries, 2 hot meal sites, and Winnie’s Place Shelter. Donations will be collected throughout the month of July.
Thanksgiving in July is a major campaign for us because it helps us restock our pantries and support our other ministries at a time of the year when people don’t usually think about food drives. It’s especially important this year as people struggle financially with the impact of COVID-19. Our pantries have continued to serve throughout the crisis. Our meal sites had to close in March but we have worked in collaboration with other community organizations to make sure that the most vulnerable in our community have daily meals. We hope to be able to reopen our meal sites soon. The success of this drive is vital.
Annual Delegate Assembly: The Annual Delegate Assembly is scheduled for Thursday, August 27th at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church 2601-15th St, Moline, IL 61265. Registration begins at 6:30 pm and the meeting will commence at 7:00 pm. The evening will include music, words of witness from our clients, and special reports.
Because of the partnership with Churches United of the Quad City Area team, we wish to honor you, All Saints, with a special presentation during our program for your service with the ministry. Please RSVP by Friday, August 14, 2020.
Thank you for your contributions and support throughout the years!
Rev. Dr. Melvin Grimes