Our Gracious Lord
One day Jesus told a parable about a land owner who went to town to hire workers to work in his vineyard. (St. Mt. 20:1-16) The man went early in the morning to find men who would work from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. He found some men who agreed to work for a denarius a day. The man returned looking for more workers at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 3:00 p.m., and finally at the eleventh hour (5 p.m.) he hired more men and sent them to work in his vineyard.
At the end of the day they were all paid beginning with the last hired and ending with the first. To everyone’s surprise those who had only worked one hour were paid a full day’s wage of one denarius. When those hired first saw this they thought that they would be paid more, but they also received a denarius. At this they began to complain that it wasn’t fair that those who had only worked one hour should receive the same pay as those who had worked twelve hours.
No, it wasn’t fair or just. However, the landowner did the first workers no injustice either. We need to understand that the opposite of justice is not injustice. The opposite of justice is non-justice. In logic the opposite of A is non-A, not B, C, or D. Non-justice is of two types. One form of non-justice is injustice. If the landowner had paid the first workers half a denarius after agreeing to pay a full denarius that would have been an injustice. This he did not do. There is, however, a second type of non-justice, which we call mercy or grace. The man did no one an injustice. What he did was show mercy or grace toward those who came late.
At the beginning of the parable Jesus said that this was a story about “the kingdom of God”. It is not a story about business administration, economics, or labor-management relations. And it is certainly not a story about how people think and operate here on earth and in human society. The kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord,” (Isa. 55:8) This simply means if we do not understand this parable we are not thinking the way God thinks, but are still thinking like the world.
The master in the parable was gracious. It was he who took the initiative to find those in need and showed real concern for all of them. He also was generous with his wealth, even to those who didn’t deserve his generosity.
This is also a parable about our response to God’s grace, or more exactly, the wrong response to God’s grace. When those hired last received the same pay as those hired first, the first began to complain. They resented the master’s generosity. The master responded, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Mt. 20:15) Those who complained thought only in terms of work and merit. So many works, so much pay.
We human beings naturally tend toward a legalistic view of our relationship with God. We somehow feel that God owes us something. All religions except Christianity are legalistic, but unfortunately it is also present in the minds and thinking of many Christians. Some are quick to say that what the master did was unfair and unjust. Such an attitude reveals that the person really doesn’t understand Christianity at all. Nor do they understand God and His grace. If God were to be fair with us, if He gave us what we deserve, we would all be lost. We are all like the late comers who don’t deserve what the master graciously gives.
The position of the parable helps in understanding it. Immediately before Jesus told the parable He was approached by the rich young ruler. (Mt. 19:16-22) After the young man walked away Peter said, “See we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” (Mt. 19:27) John Calvin thought that the parable was a rebuke of Peter, who obviously thought that he and the other disciples deserved more than the rich young ruler. Shortly after hearing the parable James and John asked Christ if they could have the seats at Christ’s right and left in His kingdom. (Mt.20:20-28) They thought that they were more deserving than the other disciples. They clearly didn’t get the point.
The point of the parable is that God is free to do as He wishes with that which belongs to Him. He owes us nothing and is under no obligation to save anyone. But like the master in the parable He is gracious and freely gives to those who do not deserve and have not earned His favor. To think of merit in our relationship with God is completely out of order. The appropriate response on our part should be eternal gratitude and a song of thanksgiving for all we are and have is of God’s grace.
By Rev. F. M. Levi
The Young Adult Group met on Saturday, January 19, to celebrate Holy Communion using the 1549 service. The celebrant was the Rev. Dr. Derrick Hassert the Curate here at St. Andrew’s. Following the service they went out for pizza and a time of fellowship.
Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 6, 2008. We shared in a soup supper in the Parish Hall at 6:30 p.m. This was followed by a service in the chapel a 7:30 p.m. The Wednesday night soup suppers and services continue through Wednesday, March 12, 2008.
Missionary of The Month
Rev. & Mrs. William Jerdan (Diane) and their children. Montpellier, France.
Annual Parish Meeting
Sunday, March 9, 2008. A catered luncheon prior to the meeting will be held in the Parish Hall.
Service will be held in the chapel at 7:30 p.m.
Continental Breakfast – 9:30 a.m.
Holy Communion – 10:30 a.m.
Mar. 1 – Dale Muir
Mar. 3 – Holly Ardizzone
Mar. 5 – Ian Christenson
Mar. 5 – Kevin Ebisi
Mar. 9 – Allison Klingen
Mar. 12 – Amy Christenson
Mar. 17 – Rev. Dr. Derrick Hassert
Mar. 26 - Barbara Smith
The Miracles Of Easter
by Helen Steiner Rice
The sleeping earth awakens,
The robins start to sing,
The flowers open wide their eyes
To tell us it is Spring,
The bleakness of the Winter
Is melted by the sun,
The tree that looked so stark and dead
Becomes a living one …
These Miracles of Easter,
Wrought with divine perfection,
Are the blessed reassurance
Of our Saviour’s Resurrection.