Last week Deacon George and I decided to alternate weeks with our weekly messages and since he wrote last weeks, this weeks is my turn. Here is the Gospel for this Sunday, Proper 20.
Jesus said, “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 them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, 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. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, 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 this 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.”
The laborers hired on at different times and therefore did different amounts of work in the hot sun. But the land owner, out of the goodness of his heart, has decided to pay everyone the same. Now most people if they had been hired later in the day and yet still received a full day’s wage would have felt like they had received a windfall. Those who worked all day but received the same amount may have felt like they were treated unfairly. The premise of this entire story relies on us knowing what others have received.
So many times in our modern world we find that we compare ourselves to someone else.We may think we deserve more than another because we perceive ourselves to be anyone of a number of things. The words pride and envy come to mind in this parable for me because both require me to compare myself to someone else.
In the business world many companies don’t publish what employees are paid for this reason, comparison. Employees may think “I work twice as hard and twice as long yet my co-worker is getting the same amount of money, or perhaps even more”. Using that kind of comparison sets us up to always be looking for our ownself-worth in others and not within ourselves where it lies and that can create an atmosphere of negativity.
But this can be one of those lessons that we don’t learn easily. Jesus knows this. In fact, if you look at the last line of the Gospel it says “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”It doesn’t say might be or could be. It says will be. Jesus knows that we need help with this one. So let’s just flip the whole thing around and totally upset the norms. That should restore the harmony that has been lost. But if you are like me, your human nature may say “but I worked so much harder than he or she did and they got more than me.” Don’t fall into this trap.
Nowhere was our ability to set aside our differences more apparent than during our blood drive on September 11th. No one’sblood was better than anyone else’s. All gave as they were willing and able.
This coming Sunday we had hoped to once again do outdoor church however circumstances have arisen to make us reconsider this decision. After consulting with your Senior and Junior Warden and Deacon George we will be staying on line. At least One of our members has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus with in this last week and another is in a 14 day quarantine after an exposure. Neither of these happened at church but the problem with this virus is it spreads very easily. I am aware of several other members who are getting tested for the virus. If you have symptoms please go and get tested. In case you don’t remember what the symptoms are here is a link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
Hope to see you Sunday On-Line