On Weeds and Flowers and the Peace of Christ
A wise woman once said, “There’s two kinds of people in the world. The ones who see weeds everywhere they look, and the ones who see flowers. I’d rather be one who sees flowers.”
Then there’s me…not nearly as wise. In a meeting about the condition of my lawn I actually said, “Well, we can always just put a sign in the lawn that says, ‘Illinois State Flower.’ Violets are pretty and they taste good.”
In the scripture for Sunday’s lesson, Jesus promises his disciples the gift of his peace: John 14:23-29. The tendrils of betrayal, denial, a false trial, and execution are snaking their way into Jesus' circle of friends. Sensing the violence of the future Jesus offers his peace. Notice, it’s not security, safety, or a carefree life Jesus bestows. But, Peace.
Soon the disciples will experience the suffering of losing Jesus. Not long after his death and Resurrection, they will face persecution themselves.
Jesus' movement was looked upon as “weeds” to be eradicated from the lawn by the 'good church people.' The peace sought after by the world is freedom from conflict, conformity, and homogeniety. The peace Jesus offers is love from on high. The peace Jesus offers is the assurance that he and God “will come to them and make our home with them,” even in the face of humanity’s brutal need to control.
I see the quality of Jesus’ peace when he prays forgiveness upon those murdering him, and blesses those on the crosses beside him with the promise of paradise. Like many 'weeds,’ Jesus’ peace is medicinal; offering healing, breaking up and cleansing toxic ground and drawing up richness and renewal.
Jesus doesn’t spell out how gruesome his fate or the fate of the disciples will be. He simply acknowleges that he’s going to the Father and that’s Good News. Like the seeds of pesky weeds, his message will spread.
I like to imagine Stephen’s sense of Christ’s peace. He was doomed by his choice to follow Jesus. At the very end of his life he had a remarkable awareness of heaven while the elders and men of his city stoned him, making him the first martyr for Christianity.
There’s plenty of people whom I could easily assign to the category 'weeds,’ but the Spirit, in her wisdom, won’t let me get away with it. Weeds is a purely subjective word that simply implies 'not being wanted.' In a corn field grass and roses are 'weeds.' Jesus laid down his life that the waters of heaven might irrigate our dry and thirsty souls while on earth. He still is the pipeline watering the church with his tender Spirit.
Of course, now those rain barrels popping up in yard after yard have a completely different significance for me. How are we to keep the peace as it rains down?