On Dandelions And Worship

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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Listen while you read: "Holy Spirit Hear Us"1 (Lyrics)

Matthew 13:28b-30a – The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" "No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest." (NIV)

Recently, some Facebook friends posted pictures of their garden flowers. They were all pretty, but only one got a "like" from me: the dandelions. I liked them because I saw a glint of mischief in them. They were obviously unwelcome in this garden, yet their plush, yellow blooms glowing in the sun delighted my eye and, I suspect, the gardener's eye, too. How can a weed be so delightful? How can anything that is so unwelcome be so welcoming?

Dandelions remind me of the various worship expressions found in our churches: The loveliest forms of worship can also be resolutely unwelcome. For example, applause after a sacred solo can be as refreshing as a vibrant bloom and as disturbing as a weed. Likewise, the doxology can be exuberant praise, yet like an overgrown weed. This is true of almost anything related to worship. These things mischievously capture our attention through their controversial potential: What some folk are eager to preserve, others long to eliminate. Like dandelions, worship traditions possess power to stir worshippers both to adore God and to deploy "weedkiller" — even at the same time. How do we handle this unending quandary of paradox in worship?

The solution lies in our ability to accept that worship itself is paradoxical. We worship God with both grief and joy: grief over our utter sinfulness and joy over God's relentless love for sinners — and His marvellous gift of salvation.

In truth, we worship a Lord Who is paradoxical by nature. God is both just and merciful — often in ways that unsettle us: The unholy becomes a context for praise, while the disfavoured is blessed by God.

We simply cannot expunge the impure from the pure without the risk of injury to fellow worshippers. Jesus advised us to let "weeds" grow with the "wheat". Did you notice that this command is paradoxical in itself? It's bad farming; yet it depicts God's good purposes.

We can easily become derailed when we focus on eradicating the "impure" — be that "impure" music, attire, language (e.g. politically incorrect terms), or the questionable worship practices of the "other camp". Preoccupation with these things will cause the gifts of grace and love to be eclipsed, and legalism will take root.

If we cannot accept the paradoxical nature of worship, we cannot truly love the unlovely. If we cannot accept a paradoxical God, we cannot worship and adore Him for Who He truly is. We would be like Jonah, who disdained God's mercy toward a violent city. And we would sneer at hypocrites without seeing our own hypocrisy.

Love alone empowers us to embrace the paradoxical. Love enables us to worship among fallen people with a posture of empathy — rejoicing with those who rejoice even while weeping with those who weep. Real love is radically paradoxical. And love, in actuality, is our ultimate expression of worship.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we cannot thank You enough for Your longsuffering love and Your relentless passion to forgive and to give us second chances even when there is nothing about us that earns such favour. Inspire us to grasp and to know the depth of Your holy love for us, so that we can reflect that love and find praiseworthiness in all of life's "dandelions". Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.

    Thanks for a good reminder Diane.

    Thank you for such an insightful devotional, Diane.

    Diane. Just super. Thank you so much. Blessings.

    That is one of the best Devotionals I have ever read. Thank you.

    Diane this addresses a big problem in the church and you covered it well.

    Today’s devotional was interesting and thought provoking, Diane. Thank you.
    (Texas USA)

    Thank you for a thoughtful and provoking meditation. As an avid gardener (my wife and I) your reflections made me think more deeply and appreciatively.

    WOW!! Diane – Insight, indeed! Needed to be said – but who except by Holy Spirit guidance with joy?
    Thank You.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I, too, love dandelions and find not much difference in the joy of weeds and flowers.
    Love your references to love and worship and people.
    Hope you keep spreading these seeds.

    Dear Diane
    Many good things in this devotional, thank you. But I query that the it was ‘bad farming’ to let the weeds grow with the wheat. The point surely is that the good plants would be damaged if someone zealously tries to root up the bad ones which are entangled as you rightly point out with the good ones.

    This was an inspiring message.
    I have been going through difficulties at the moment and only meaningful hymns and praise are bringing me through.
    Yes, I have found the paradox of God, especially as the Bible readings I have had during the these trials have been from Numbers, Jeremiah and at the moment Job.
    But your DD struck home as I realized that I have been worshiping God both in grief and joy. I certainly have found His “relentless love” for this sinner!
    Many thanks for hitting the spot for me,
    (BC, Canada)

    Good Morning,
    Diane, I want to thank you for your thought-provoking devotion this morning. I, too, love dandelions and I appreciated how you pointed out the “dandelions” in our worship and our need to love them and nurture them. You are absolutely correct in that our God is paradoxical in His ways, and that is one of the many things I don’t understand but love about him. I pray our new pastor will be able to recognize the “dandelions” in our church family and cherish them as we do.
    So, thank you again, for using your God-given gift of writing to encourage and uplift me today.
    Wishing you blessings!

    Diane this was an excellent devotional. The paradoxes you alluded to were refreshing and stimulating to my thinking.

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