“I’m not so sure I agree with you . . . ."

“I’m not so sure I agree with you . . . ."


Rev. Dr. Jeffrey M. Gallagher is the Senior Pastor of the United Congregational Church of Tolland, Chaplain of the Tolland Fire Department and Connecticut State Police, author of the book Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith

Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 (NRSV)

He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!


Reflection: “I’m not so sure I agree with you . . . ."



During my first year of Seminary I worked as an adjunct faculty member of the English Department at the-then Salem State College, now Salem State University, in Salem, Massachusetts.  While I enjoyed my time teaching, it honestly wasn’t the most fulfilling job.  Getting asked to teach a course the day after the semester started and then trying to get business majors to care about reading Dante will do that.
Since I’ve been serving the church, however, I’ve found the fulfillment that I had hoped to get in the college classroom through our church’s weekly book study group.  Engaging at a high level with the likes of Rachel Held Evans, Marcus Borg, Nadia Bolz Weber, and even struggling with John Shelby Spong, the group has become less something that I lead and more something that I participate in, where I get as much from the group—maybe more even—than they get from me.
And my favorite part is when someone begins a sentence with, “I’m not so sure I agree with you . . . .” because what then follows is a conversation that usually results in all of us seeing the text in a new light. 
The English professor in me welcomes this, because this is how I approach all literature—the Bible included.  I try to see the text through my own eyes, others’ eyes—in so much as that’s possible, and I certainly don’t want someone trying to interpret the text for me . . . . hello there, Matthew.
In the first half of this week’s lesson we have the parable of the weeds among the wheat—a text ripe with interpretations to be harvested from it.  But then, as we move into the second half, we see that Matthew has decided to interpret what we’ve just read for us.  (Now, notice I didn’t say Jesus’ interpretation, as these are Matthew’s words, attributed to Jesus, since no one was following Jesus around with a tape recorder to document exactly what he said.)
So this is what Matthew thinks the parable means.  He may be right; he may not be right.  But what isn’t right is when we read this text and assume that Matthew’s interpretation is the only way to understand this text.
For I am led to see this text not about wheat and weeds representing two different types of people; rather, I see the wheat and weeds referring to two different crops seeking to take root within us.  As such, each one of us is a field, and in that field—in us—seeds of both wheat and weeds are planted from all we experience and encounter in the world around us.  Both of those then grow together, making us the people that we are: people capable of producing wheat that will benefit the world and also weeds that can make it so hard for that wheat to grow.
As the imperfect wheat and weed producers that we are, this is how we live our lives.  And then, when those lives end—when our harvest day comes—God will take what’s inside of us, remove the weeds from the wheat, and welcome our weed-less souls into that eternal barn that is promised to us all.
That makes this, for me, a text of hope: less vengeful God, more loving God.
Is that what Jesus meant?  Maybe.  Would Matthew agree?  I’m not sure.  Do you?  All I know is that’s a conversation I would welcome.


Holy God, no matter what parables and stories we use to try and understand you, we know that you understand us to be the wheat and weed producers that we are.  Help us to grow a little more wheat than weed this week, and remind us that no matter how fruitful the harvest, you love the one doing the growing.  Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war, as well as the many landscapes that are currently embroiled in conflicts.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~23,000 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the year.
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. Dr. Mary N. Hawkes of Cromwell, CT who passed away on July 8.  Mary was ordained in 1980 and held ordained ministerial standing in the Hartford Association.
  • For the climate crisis, and for those who are suffering from the severe storms bringing flooding to the local areas.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For the 99 SNEUCC Delegates who attended the 34th General Synod, and continue to share their experiences.
  • For those who see texts in a different light.

This Week in History:

July 17, 2014 (9 years ago): Eric Garner dies in NYPD chokehold.  Pinned to the ground by the officers, Garner repeatedly told them, "I can't breathe." [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Jeff Michael Gallagher

the Senior Pastor of the United Congregational Church of Tolland and author of the book Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith

July 17, 2023
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