[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to the, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. (He did the same at noon, three o’clock and five o’clock) When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the laborers and give them their 0ay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received the usual daily wage…”Friends, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to the last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
~ Matthew 20:1-4, 8-9, 13-16
This parable suggests that in the economy of God’s kingdom there is something better than profit margin, greater than incentive and reward, more beautiful than a sharply run business – and that is abundant grace. The story is about a God who wants everyone inside the vineyard, who will not stop rushing out into the marketplace until all have been rounded up, who will not rest until the outsiders, the forgotten and the lonely have been included alongside the skilled, the timely and the hardworking, even if it costs God everything.
~ Craig Kocher
Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed,
ye restless wanderers after rest;
ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,
in Christ a hearty welcome find.
~ Charles Wesley
This story is not about labor relations nor about economic justice nor about rational economic choice. It is about God, a God who is so expansive, abundant, and loving in his generosity that humans who behaved with similar generosity, people would thing insane…The parable is about a crazy God who is, it seems, too reckless in his generosity, too excessive altogether in his bounty…Jesus believed and asked us to believe that the universalistic God of Isaiah has to be exorbitant in his abundance or he isn’t God. ~ Andrew Greeley
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty Frederick W. Faber
Time plus effort does not translate into just reward in the economy of God’s kingdom.
Like love, grace does not depend on the worthiness of the one receiving it.
~ Craig Kocher
These reflections are for the week of September 20-26 and are based on the scriptures for worship on September 20.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.