16 December Matthew 20: 1–16
As an active Trade Unionist during most of my working life this story presents me a desire to enrol all the workers in a ‘vineyard workers union’ to fight for equal treatment for all!
Jesus’ parables were a method of teaching that used shock tactics to get listeners to think. The message in this parable was really about the upside-down values of the Kingdom and of what they meant to believers.
How many of us, reading this, could produce a CV in which our service to the Kingdom could be outlined. You may have been a Steward, a Worship Leader, a Sunday School teacher, a Local Preacher, a Lay Worker, a Property person, a Treasurer – the list goes on. The parable teaches us that there is no long service award in God’s service and in the words of the final verse, ‘So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’
This is a parable about God’s generosity and love so that the last to come to Him will be valued as much as the first and will be equally rewarded.
As we approach Christmas it would be good to reflect on all the hierarchies that the church has built up through the centuries. There is a picture in the church in Nazareth that shows Jesus, Mary and St Peter as very large figures. Saints are a bit smaller, followed by cardinals, martyrs and finally by the very small ordinary people. Is a saint or an archbishop or even a Methodist minister more welcome into the Kingdom than a repentant sinner who turns finally to Jesus? The answer might come as a shock to those of us who have ‘done our time’ as lifetime workers in the church! God’s love and Kingdom is for all.
Dear Lord, help us to understand and to support the values of your Kingdom. Help us to work in establishing that same Kingdom and help us to welcome everyone who calls out in your name to be part of it.