Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 20:1-15

'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, "You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage." So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing around, and he said to them, "Why have you been standing here idle all day?" "Because no one has hired us," they answered. He said to them, "You go into my vineyard too." In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, "Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first." So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner saying, "The men who came last have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day's work in all the heat." He answered one of them and said, "My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the lastcomer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why should you be envious because I am generous?"


There is no way to make your story kind or just, Jesus. If God is like the owner of the vineyard, then God is far removed from human concerns for justice and fair play. The Holy One appears arbitrary, even arrogant: “It’s mine, and I can do with it as I please.”

There is no hint of concern for normal standards of fairness, only for the contractual agreement: “You agreed to one denarius. Take your money and go.”

So what are we to do with this? Are our lives in the hands of an arbitrary power that cares nothing for how we see or feel about things?

Looking at you, Jesus, that seems about right. The Loving Mystery doesn’t much care about how we see or feel about things, exercising the divine power in ways uncontrolled by our standards.

Looking at you, Jesus, I see that may be the best news I ever hear.

You come and give to the good and evil alike. You pour yourself out for the life of the undeserving. You touch and heal with no concern for who you are touching, untouched by how the good and discerning judge you and the unrighteous for whom you seemed to shower such care.

You have no concern whatsoever for my ideas about fairness. Your divine mercy marches always to the beat of a drummer I cannot hear, or just barely in rare moments when my heart opens to the possibility that it is unspeakable grace not human judgment that will finally rule the world.

And me.

So explode my judgment with your generosity and teach me to live without counting what I or others have, what is fair or right. Teach me to live with but one question: What would your generosity do?

The rest of the world might think I have lost my mind, but you’ll smile.

So let me make you smile.

Pr. David L. Miller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Miller -
I your new role at a church in Naperville, I assume many Sundays you are preaching the sermon - PLEASE consider posting the sermon each Sunday or Monday on this blog!! I would relish reading your thoughts!