Welcome to this celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, September 20. This morning we’re broadcasting live from Craighurst Park for our first in-person gathering in six months.
Wherever you’re joining us from please download the bulletin and pray along here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Nd26oBoP79c7RSpk33eJTSSzudeu9Ggr/view?usp=sharing
Our service begins at 10:30am.
“I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you,” (Matthew 20:14).
The parables of Jesus are fascinating because they give us insight into what the kingdom of heaven is like but rarely in a way that makes sense to us. Indeed, years ago I heard a New Testament scholar say that the parables of Jesus are rather meant to disturb us.
Well in our readings this morning it’s the breadth of God’s grace that gets under our skin. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.” It’s harvest time and landowner is in need of workers.
And he doesn’t just go out once does he? No he’s continually going out and searching the streets for folks that want a job. He’s out there at the crack of dawn, and again in the morning, and again at noon, and again in the afternoon. And he’s inviting, always inviting. That’s Jesus. Always searching, always inviting, always taking the first step.
He even goes out again at the very end of the day. At the eleventh hour! Of course at that time of the day it’s just the riffraff that are left. The last picked, the leftovers, the ones no one else wanted to hire! Maybe they only came out in the afternoon because they were hungover all morning. Maybe they smelled like a poor work ethic and too much wine. Surely the landowner wouldn’t bother with this lot.
But he does! “You also go into the vineyard,” he says. Because God’s kingdom includes the ones that other kingdoms disregard. He invites them in and treats them as if they were meant to be there from the start, because they were. You see, in God’s kingdom the late-comers and the picked-last are absolutely foundational! Who are the ones that the kingdoms of this world disregard? Jesus wants every last one of them on his team.
And when the landowner gets his labourers what does he do? He sends them into his vineyard. And Jesus has called you so that he can send you out. Just like he sent Jonah to Nineveh to announce the good news there. That’s why at the end of the liturgy today Deacon Tom is going to stand up and tell you all to go on and get. Maybe you thought you were going to get to put your feet up but there’s work to be done. Jesus is sending you into his vineyard, into the world that he loves, and he wants you to tend it and nurture it so that the gospel can grow there, so that faith can grow there, so that hope and love can grow there.
Finally back in the vineyard it’s the end of the day and it’s time to be paid. Surely those who have been there the longest will be paid first and no doubt more handsomely than the lazy sods who just showed up an hour ago. Instead, much to our chagrin, the landowner calls up the late-comers and the last-picked and he pays them first! And as if that weren’t bad enough he pays them exactly the same amount that he pays the labourers that have been around all day long.
Well that doesn’t seem fair! The point is simply that God is exceedingly generous. No one can read the Bible and possibly come to the conclusion that God is risk-averse. In fact, he’s willing to take a gamble in the hope that it pays off, big time. So much so that we might at times feel like maybe God is being a bit irresponsible with his mercy, dolling it out on people with little regard to how much effort they’ve put in. God is good and he delights in being generous.
This morning Jesus wants to open your eyes so that you can see his goodness and generosity. And when you see it, rejoice! Rejoice in the goodness of Jesus and imitate that goodness by following him.