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Pentecost 22 Proper 24B RCL October 21 2018

Job 38: 1-7, (34-41)
Psalm 104: 1-9, 25, 37c
Hebrews 5: 1-10
Mark 10: 35-45

In our opening reading last Sunday, Job was trying to find God but could not. Job had wanted to plead his case before God.

This Sunday, God speaks to Job out of a great whirlwind and asks Job questions. Where was Job when God created the earth? Can Job cause rain and lightning to come from the skies? Can Job provide food for lions? Can Job create humans and give them minds?

Like Job, we are human beings, and we know that the answer to all these questions is No. God has created the world and everything in it.  God has created the universe, galaxies, stars, and planets. The power and majesty of God shine through this passage. Like Job, we feel quite small and insignificant after reading these words. The transcendence of God is made clear in this passage from Job. God is far more powerful than we are. The majesty of God is almost frightening in this passage.

And yet, God is immanent. God is close to us. In Jesus, God has come to be among us as one of us. To think that the creator of the world cares enough to do this is mind-boggling, but it is true.

In our gospel for today, James and John, two of our Lord’s closest followers, are asking a favor from Jesus. They want to sit beside him in places of honor in his kingdom. Jesus asks them whether they will be able to drink the cup that he will have to drink—that is, his crucifixion. They have no idea what he is talking about and they say that, yes, they can drink that cup, and Jesus tells them that, yes they will suffer. We know that the new faith did undergo persecution.

But then the other ten apostles become angry that James and John have asked for this place of privilege, and Jesus tries to make clear the contrast between his kingdom and the kinds of kingdoms we humans tend to think about.

Jesus says that in the usual way of things, human rulers lord it over their subjects. Leaders are usually tyrants. But in the shalom of Jesus, this is not how it is going to be. In the shalom of Jesus, those who want to be leaders must be servants. The one who is called to be first of all must be the most loyal servant of all.

And our Lord says, “For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Our Lord gave his life to free us from many forms of slavery.

What a profound difference this is from the question James and John were asking. They were asking for the places of honor and glory in an earthly kingdom  and Jesus was saying: the kingdom I am calling you to help build is not like that.

Our epistle also emphasizes this point. The writer of Hebrews begins by talking about the high priest in the temple in Jerusalem. This was someone who in that society had great power. Yet the writer talks about the weakness and frailty of the high priest, who must offer sacrifices for his own sins. The writer says that the high priest must be humble, not presuming to take the office but must be called by God, as Aaron was.

And then the writer talks about Jesus as our great high priest. In his Letter to the Philippians, Paul writes that our Lord “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant….”

Jesus was creating a new community based on love and servanthood. This is such a far cry from the way the world does things that it is difficult to get our minds around it. Even James and John fell back into the usual way of thinking about leadership. Jesus had to remind all his followers that leaders often lord it over their subjects and become tyrants over them.

But then our Lord says, “It is not so among you.” He tells us that serving others and serving each other is the mark of leadership in his community, his Body. People take care of each other and work together to get the job done. There is no vying for honor or power. There is a great deal of love for God and for each other and for all others. There is a desire to help and serve others. Those are the marks of our Lord’s community.

You and God have built such a community here.  No one is vying for honors. Everyone respects the dignity of every other person. Faithfulness, love, servanthood and service are to be found in abundance. Folks work efficiently and in good humor to get the job done, whatever it might be.

Somehow I find it extraordinarily difficult to imagine any member of Grace Church asking our Lord for the place of honor. And I think that is a greet blessing. Well done, good and faithful servants.  Amen.

Lent 2C RCL February 21, 2016

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

Our opening reading from the Book of Genesis is full of insight for us on our journey through Lent. It shows one of the great heroes of the faith, Abraham, in a state of fear. Our lesson opens with God telling Abraham not to be afraid. Here is the great example of faith, Abraham, who has journeyed from Ur of the Chaldeans to a new land, and now he is wondering whether he has made a huge mistake.

As we can see, God is with him, encouraging him. And Abraham asks God the real question that is bothering him. Abraham asks God, “Are you going to give me children as you promised? Am I going to have a future, or has all my journeying been for nothing?” God tries to reassure Abraham, telling him that he is going to have children. But that does not seem to make the point strongly enough

So God takes Abraham out into the night. “Look up into the heavens and count the stars. That is how numerous your descendants will be.”

When we go out at night and look up at the sky, the vastness of it speaks of God’s immense power and glory. It is impossible to count the stars. There are far too many of them.

Somehow, the immensity of God’s creation speaks to the heart and mind of Abraham, as it also speaks to us. If God can create all this and if God is telling me that I am going to have this many descendants, I have to believe it,” Abraham says to himself.

But then he needs a sign. We could say that he needs a liturgical sign. So God instructs Abraham to make a sacrifice. And Abraham does that. A deep sleep falls on him, and when he wakes up, the fire of God comes and burns the sacrifice. This is the sign of the convenient between God and Abraham.

Abraham and Sara had left a prosperous life in Ur of the Chaldeans, had packed up their possessions and their animals, and all they had, and had gone to a new land. God called them to do this, and they responded to that call.

But now Abraham comes to a point where he is doubting or questioning what he has done. Has God really called me to do this? Will God help me to take the next steps? Will God keep his promise to give us children, even though we are old? Is God really going to help me establish my home in this new and unknown land?

Even this great holy example of the faithful person, Abraham, had times of fear and doubt. That can be very reassuring to us. Sometimes we need to ask God to reassure us. Especially when we have made major decisions, even if we have felt that God is calling us to these choices, sometimes we need support and reassurance from God and trusted friends in the faith. Even Abraham needed this reassurance from God.

Questions and doubts are not the opposite of faith. They are part of our human journey of faith.

In our gospel for today, the Pharisees are trying to help Jesus. They warn our Lord that Herod wants to kill him. Jesus responds with some blunt comments. He is healing people and doing his ministry and on the third day he will finish his work. On the third day he will rise and lead us into new life. He has to keep moving because Jerusalem, even though it is the site of the temple, is dangerous. That is where those in power, such as Herod, exercise total control over everything. That is where the prophets are killed. That is where those who want to keep complete control over everything that happens exterminate everyone who threatens their power.

And then Jesus says something that is so much from his heart that it brings tears to our eyes: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Jesus wanted so much to share his ministry of love and healing with this most holy city, and it was impossible because the earthly rulers shut him out. All they wanted to do was to kill him. They are so blind and so caught up in their own power that they could not be open to Jesus in any way.

That is something that can happen to us humans. We can actually shut God out from our lives. Jesus is expressing the sorrow of God when people attain so much power that they can prevent an entire city from having access to God.

Jesus tells the Pharisees that they will not see him until what we call Palm Sunday, the day when he will enter Jerusalem and be honored, the beginning of the week when he will die.

In his Letter to his beloved Philippians, Paul is calling them and us to keep following our Lord. By that time in the Roman Empire, moral values were beginning to slip.  As Paul says, “ Our citizenship is in heaven.” The values that Jesus calls us to, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are not the values of this world.

What are these readings telling us today? First, even Abraham became scared and anxious. When we feel that way, we need to follow Abraham’s example. We need to talk to God about it and ask for help. We can also ask for human help from friends in the faith.

Our other two readings are also reminding us to ask God for help. Jesus would have loved to gather the people together and teach them and help them, But the religious and secular leaders prevented that.

On our Lenten journey and every day, may we ask our Lord for help. May we listen to his guidance. May we follow him in faith. And, when we are scared, may we let him gather us under his wings and protect us. Amen.

Pentecost 17 Proper 23, October 9, 2011

Pentecost 17   Proper 23A RCL   October 9, 2011

Exodus 32: 1-14
Psalm 106: 1-6, 19-23
Philippians 4: 1-9
Matthew 22: 1-14

Last week we stood with Moses and the people of God as they received the Ten Commandments. Now, we are twelve chapters later into the Book of Exodus. Moses is involved in a series of trips up and down the mountain to receive from God further amplifications of the law. What happens? The people get impatient. They want a God they can see, so they ask Aaron to make them a god.

Aaron collects their gold jewelry and fashions a golden calf. God sees what is happening and tells Moses to go down from the mountain and get the people to shape up. God is very angry. This account is from the Jahwist writer, the text dating back to about 950 years before Christ. The view of God then was quite anthropomorphic. In some parts  the Hebrew scriptures, God comes across as what I call a bad parent. Part of our study of the Bible is seeing humanity’s increasing understanding of the nature of God, and there is even a hint of it here. Moses reasons with God, and God shows mercy to the people.

We know that the story of God’s people in the wilderness is our story. No sooner has God come to us and given us a framework for our lives and for our community life than we revert to our old gods. Back then it was a golden calf. Now it’s money, power, prestige, getting to the top of the ladder no matter what the cost.

Our gospel for today is Matthew’s account of the wedding banquet, which is quite different from Luke’s account. A king is going to have a wedding feast for his son. This is complete allegory. The king is God and the son is Jesus. Back then you would send out your invitations, the people would accept, and then you would remind them the day of the feast. Well, the king’s slaves go out and the invited guests will not come. He sends out other slaves and the guests still will not come. On top of that, they mistreat the slaves and kill them. This symbolizes the killing of the prophets by the Jewish people. The king sends his army out and destroys these people, and burns their city.

Then the king invites everyone to the banquet, both good and bad people. The people throng into the banquet. This symbolizes the gentiles who are joining the church at this time. But there is one fellow who does not have a wedding garment. We can sum up scholarly comment on this by saying that, if you were invited to such a feast, it was common courtesy to wear a wedding garment, and those garments were easily available. Either you had one in your closet, or they were handed out at the feast. More to the point, in the New Testament, garments symbolize other things, In this case, the wedding garment symbolizes an attitude and behavior in harmony with God’s kingdom, God’s shalom. The person does not have the proper attitude, so he is thrown into the outer darkness. Pretty grim. Scholars tell us that this parable as it stands does not come directly from Jesus. It has been edited and augmented.

Matthew’s gospel, remember, was written about 90 C.E., about sixty years after Jesus’ ministry. The Jews have rejected Jesus. Gentiles are flocking in to follow Jesus. Once again, it would be totally contrary to our Lord’s teachings to interpret this in an anti-Semitic manner.

What we really need to ask is, now that we have been invited to the banquet, do we have the proper attitude? Are we getting a little smug? Thinking back to out first lesson, are we drifting toward some of our old gods, our old priorities, our old ways of thinking and of behaving? Are we doing it our own way instead of taking the time to seek and do God’s will? Easy thing to do, but it gets us off the track.

Charles Cousar writes, “Matthew’s version presses an ancient issue about the quality of our lives, whether in the ordinary dimensions of our relationships we manifest a genuineness, a trustworthiness.   What matters is a life without pretense or guile, that takes seriously the grace given in Jesus Christ.” (Texts for Preaching, Year A, page 524.)

Philippi was a city in Macedonia, a major stop on the East-West road through that area. The congregation was the first community which Paul had founded on European soil. Paul had had a warm and happy relationship with this community. He loved them dearly. This letter dates back to 62 C.E., and perhaps earlier, so a bit earlier than Matthew’s gospel. We are getting a bird’s eye view into the formation of a Christian community.

Paul begins, “My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand fast in the Lord in this way, my beloved..” Then comes a direct and intimate bit of pastoral counsel. Euodia and Syntyche are two women in the community who have been at odds. We do not know why. Paul is urging them to be of the same mind in the Lord. Paul asks the whole congregation to support these women, who have worked faithfully with Paul  to spread the good news. What great insight there is in these words. Yes, we are going to have disagreements, but we can always work them out. We may have to agree to disagree, but nothing can get in the way of the love of God for us and between us and among us. Gentleness is so important. The Lord is near, as close as our breath. Don’t worry, pray. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will be with us. Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, do these things. Paul tells the people to keep on doing the things they have learned from him, and God will be with them.

I know that Paul has gotten a bit of a bum rap. We have to remember that he, like us, was a creature of his own age and culture. But this letter shows us a loving and wise pastor.

We are in the kingdom, the shalom of  God. Paul outlines for us some of the key values of that shalom. Gentleness, respect for each other, and compassion for each other, are central to our life together and to our ministry.

Matthew’s gospel says that everyone, good and bad, is invited to the feast.  His congregation was a mixture of Jews and gentiles learning to follow Jesus together. Many of the early congregations were going through the same process. Today, we face other issues which can threaten to divide us. But they will not divide us, they will not cause rifts such as that between Euodia and Syntyche, if we focus on being people of the kingdom, people of God’s shalom, people of compassion.

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Pentecost 16 Proper 22 October 2, 2011

Pentecost 16 Proper 22    October 2, 2011

 Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Psalm 19
Philippians 3: 4b-14
Matthew 21: 33-46

In our first lesson from the Hebrew scriptures, Moses and the people have made a long journey. They have reached Mt. Sinai. Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. These commandments reflect the basic guidelines of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as well as other religions and ethical human beings.

God is the only God. We should not worship idols, We should not take God’s name in vain or use God’s name lightly.   We are called to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. In these days of working all kinds of shifts and traveling through time zones, we are called to keep Sabbath time for prayer, rest, and renewal. We are called to honor our parents, although, if there has been abuse by our parents, we are called to take care of ourselves. (All of these commandments are assuming a community of love and respect.) Don’t murder. Be faithful to your spouse or partner. Don’t steal. Don’t lie about your neighbor. Don’t covet your neighbor’s possessions.

These commandments are the framework, the foundation, the glue that holds the community of faith, indeed, the human community, together.

In our epistle for today, Paul is making it clear that he is a person who can claim the highest privilege. He is a Jew, a Pharisee, a Roman citizen. Yet he sees all this as rubbish, trash, compared to the experience of knowing and experiencing and following Jesus. That’s what happens to all of us on this spiritual journey. Jesus becomes real to us as our model, our hero, and our leader, and everything else pales by comparison. Paul says, “Jesus has made me his own,” And then he continues with some of the most inspiring words in the Bible, “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press onward toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

In today’s gospel, we hear a parable. Jesus is still in the temple being challenged and attacked by the religious leaders. A man plants a vineyard. He does everything possible to nurture this vineyard. Then he leases it to tenants and goes away. When he sends his slaves to collect the rent, the tenants beat one, kill one, and stone another. He sends other slaves and the tenants treat them in the same way. Finally, he sends his son, thinking the tenants will respect him. The tenants kill the son.

On one level, which we should be aware of just for historical reasons, this is a story about how God has sent prophets and finally God’s son, and the leaders of God’s people have killed the prophets and Jesus. Matthew’s gospel was written about 90 CE, about 60 years after Jesus’ ministry ended, and this parable comments on how the religious establishment of the time resisted the prophets and even Jesus. But we should never use this in an anti Semitic manner, as it has been used in the past. We are called to use this parable to ask ourselves, “How are we responding to God’s call, to God’s vision of shalom?” How are we responding to Jesus? How are we responding to the prophets in our midst—Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Bill McKibben? Are we caring for this planet? Are we treating other members of the human community with love and respect?

On a human level, we could understand why the landowner might come back and kill those tenants. But God does not do that. God is faithful and loving toward us.

We are called to produce the fruits of God’s shalom. In Galatians 5: 22, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities speak for themselves. They are the qualities which folks show in their lives when they are living the Ten Commandments and when they are centered in God, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or followers of any other major spiritual path.

I was listening to the radio the other morning, and there was a discussion about the Euro Zone. One woman, a German, said how wonderful it was that, after all the wars that had been fought, Germans could be close to and care about French people,  and other Europeans, and the conflicts and divisions of centuries could turn into friendship and common purpose and human community. That’s God’s shalom.

Ultimately, that is what all these lessons are talking about, that we are all one as Jesus and the Father are one, that, if we take God’s love seriously, we will love our neighbors as ourselves. May we run the race; may we produce the fruits of God’s shalom.




Pentecost 15 Proper 21 September 25, 2011

Pentecost 15 Proper 21A RCL September 25, 2011

Exodus 17: 1-7
Psalm 78: 1-4, 12-16
Philippians 2: 1-13
Matthew 21: 23-32

In our first lesson, we rejoin the people Israel out in the wilderness. Once again, they are complaining. There is no water. “Why did you bring us out here, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Moses cries out to God, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” Now Moses is complaining to God about the people. God tells Moses to take some of the elders and take the staff with which he struck the Nile to make it part. God will show him the rock. Moses will strike the rod with his staff, and water will gush out. God does provide the water, but Moses names the place Massah (“test”) and meribah (“quarrel.”)  The faith of the people is tested in the wilderness. And they have been lacking in faith. They have quarreled with Moses and with God. But God has been faithful in spite of all their doubts and complaining.

Our reading from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is really a poem of praise to God and to Jesus. Paul calls the people to be of one mind, to be in complete harmony in their thinking and attitude because they have the same love,  that is the love that is rooted in God. He tells us to look to the well being of others, not to our own. And then he calls us to have the mind of Jesus, who, although he was fully divine, gave up all of that power to walk the earth as fully human. Therefore, he understands everything we go through each day and each moment of our lives. Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “He lived our human condition, as we have to live it, and, in the end, he accepted even death, as we must.” (The Word Today, p. 134.)

We are continuing on our spiritual journey, but he is living within us and helping us on our own journey of transformation.

Just before the part of Matthew’s gospel that we read today, Jesus has made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He has cleansed the temple of the moneychangers.  He is now in the temple. The authorities see him as a threat. They ask him a question, but it is really an attack. “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answers with a question, “Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” This poses a dilemma for the Chief priests and elders. John the Baptist is dead, but he had a huge following. They must handle this question carefully. They finally decide to answer, “We do not know.” And Jesus tells him that, since they have not answered his question, he will not tell them by what authority he does these things.

But he tells a parable. A man has two sons. He asks the first to go out and work in the vineyard. The son says he won’t do it, but later he does. The father goes to the other son and asks him to work, The son says, “Yes, Dad, I’ll get right on it,” but he doesn’t go to work in the vineyard at all. On the face of it, neither son does the father’s will entirely. Each is a mixture of obedience and disobedience. But, since the first son finally went out and worked, the temple authorities say he did the father’s will. And we could say the same.

But there is a deeper message here. Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “The men confronting Jesus represent the public life of Israel. Officially, Israel is a nation obedient to God. But, while many, such as these men, enjoy the privileges of the state religion, they do not always practice its principles. The society as a whole is like the second son—professing loyalty, duty, faithfulness, and obedience, but not living accordingly. By contrast, the outcasts of society, such as the prostitutes and tax gatherers, seem to have said No to God. But although they suffer the contempt of society, they live with decency and kindness, They, Jesus says, are like the first son—not professing holiness, but living according to the will of God, Jesus leaves no doubt as to whom he admires and identifies with.” In other words, it is the outcasts, the people at the margin, who really heard and followed John the Baptist’s message about conversion, repentance, transformation of our lives.

What are these readings saying to us today? There are some observations about authority in our gospel. Whenever we have a reading about the chief priests and the elders of the temple, we need to use that as an opportunity to ask about authority in the Church. Do our leaders live their faith? Do we, as Christians, live according to our Lord’s example? Obviously, we are not going to be totally like Jesus. But we need to be headed firmly in that direction. If we aren’t praying the prayer of Christ, learning the mind of Christ, and doing the deeds of Christ, there’s work to do.

If we look at God’s people complaining and quarreling in the wilderness, we know that every community complains from time to time. It isn’t easy to try to discern and follow God’s leading. But the point is that God is always faithful. And today’s reading from Philippians goes to the heart of it all. We are called to have the same mind, the same love, the same humility, as Christ. We are called to care for others in the same way that he did and does, putting others first. As we move in the direction of allowing our lives to become like his, we become more and more like him; we become one with him and one in him. And, to paraphrase what Paul says, it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us.

(Gal 2: 20.)

This is the goal of Christian life and life in community, that, we, as individuals and as a community,  show forth the love and caring and humility of our Lord.  A high calling, possible only through grace.

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Pentecost 14 Proper 20 September 18, 2011

Pentecost 14 Proper 20A RCL  September 18, 2011

Exodus 16: 2-15
Psalm 105: 1-6, 37-45
Philippians 1: 21-30
Matthew 20: 1-16

In this morning’s reading from Exodus, God’s people are complaining against Moses and Aaron. “Why have you brought us out here to kill us,” they whine. Back in Egypt we had plenty of bread and things were great. Of course, they are omitting the fact that they were slaves.

God provides manna for the people and even quails for them to eat.

God is so generous and caring.

Paul is writing to the Philippians from prison. If he should be killed, he says it would be gain for him. But he realizes that he has started all of these communities surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and he wants to support them so that they continue strong in Christ. He looks forward to the time when he will visit them and see that they are “standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.”

Today’s gospel is shocking. Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He hires a group of workers, agrees with them for the usual wage, and sends them into the vineyard. He goes to the marketplace again about nine o’clock , sees more workers standing idle, and hires them, saying that he will pay whatever is right. He goes out again at noon and three o’clock, finds more workers, and hires them on the same terms. At five o’clock he goes out and finds other workers standing idle. He asks them why they aren’t working and they say that no one has hired them. He tells them to go and work in the vineyard and doesn’t even mention wages. But they go anyway.

At the end of the day, the owner tells his manager to call the workers in and pay them. But there is a twist. He is to begin with the workers who started at five o’clock and pays them the same amount that he pays the ones who have worked all day.

It must have been pretty hard for those who had worked all day long to watch the manager pay all the latecomers the fair wage for a full day’s work. Maybe they began to think that, since the manager was paying those people a day’s wage, maybe he would pay them a week’s wage. But no such luck. They protest that this is unfair, but the landowner compassionately explains that he is doing them no wrong, he is paying them the agreed-upon fair wage. He is being fair; it’s just that he is being extraordinarily compassionate, too.

Some people find this parable upsetting. What in the world is Jesus saying here, anyway? This is no way to run a business. But this is not a parable about business practices.

Part of the unsettling nature of this parable has to do with the question: with whom do we identify? If I am thinking that I worked hard in the sun all day, and now these people who worked just a part of the day are getting the same pay, I am probably going to be upset.

But, if I identify with one of the people hired at noon or three, people who had not been hired earlier, then the parable can seem quite different. Especially in a time when so many people are unemployed or underemployed. I was there looking for work, I filled out the resumes, pounded the pavement, but no body hired me. If I am one of the people hired at five o’clock, I didn’t even ask what wages I was going to get, I just went out into the vineyard and worked. I have a family at home who are depending on me, and, at the end of the day, I get a full day’s pay, enough to feed the family for that day.

No, this parable is not about business practices. It is about God’s shalom, God’s kingdom. God is compassionate. God is generous. God is also fair. The folks who worked the full day got their fair wage. But God goes beyond fairness.

The first shall be last and the last shall be first. God’s shalom is not business as usual. It is not about getting to be first in line or being at the top of the ladder, which is what the conventional wisdom has taught us. It’s really not about us at all. It is about the nature of God.

God is a God of abundance. God is a God of grace. And grace has nothing to do with merit, or earning. Grace just flows out from God.

If we have ever had a time when we have looked for a job for a long time and not found one in spite of our best efforts; if we have ever had a time when we have tried and tried and given our best and still have not reached the goal, we may be able to understand the nature of God revealed in this parable. God’s heart goes out to those who try and try and get nowhere in the world’s terms. God especially loves those at the margins.

We are quite privileged, especially if we look at the human family on this planet. But each of us has probably known, in some way, on some level, how it feels to be vulnerable, weak, ill, insecure, to have tried our level best and failed at something, and tried and tried and tried and finally gotten hired toward the end of the day. And then the manager says to go to the head of the line, and he pays us the full wage!

That is the nature of God, and that is the nature of grace. God is not unfair, God is just amazingly generous.