Sunday – September 21, 2014

Matthew 20:1-16

20 “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 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. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 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.’ 13 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? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

I’ve read that dogs have an innate sense of fairness…

I have seen this to be true when giving my Lucy treats, only to have the other dog, Presh, walk into the room, look at me and the treats, then to Lucy, and proceed to sit and beg for some of her own with those sad Boxer eyes.

In this case, I usually give Presh just as much as Lucy, although she came later…and this of course leads to Lucy begging for her share, and so on…

I think that a sense of ‘fairness’ is innate in all rational beings…we too have a strong sense of what is fair, and what is unfair.

As parents, one of the first things we may hear our kids say is that something is “…not fair!”; and as single parents, we may have found ourselves agreeing with them on more than one occasion…such as when we felt overwhelmed by our responsibilities, and all alone as we had to make decisions for our families, and ourselves; when we had to give up a part of our social lives, or limit our career ambitions to be there for our children, we very well may have thought that life was being unfair to us! After all, most of us did not go into this parenting thing with the intention of being single parents!

It can be easy to look at the lives that some partnered parents and child-less singles lead…and maybe even the life of the “other” parent, who (right or wrong) we may perceive as having it easier as a part-time parent …and feel jealous, like we have been cheated, as we struggle with balancing our family, home and work lives.

However, it will help if we remember the old saying about the grass always being greener in the other pasture…or vineyard!! It is important not to judge our insides against the outsides of others…because the truth about the lives of other is often not as slick and pretty as it can appear on Facebook!

The truth is that all people have struggles, frustrations and challenges; we can all find things that are not fair about our lives…it is a part of life, and facing these things really can help us to become better people; that said, many of might feel that we were fine people before we had these challenges to face…and did not need to build more character!

While life can be unfair, the good news for us is that we are well-loved children of God, and just as we can reach out to our children in the midst of the unfairness in their lives…giving them hope and showing them compassion, God reaches out to us with love and hope, and gives us support through the faith we share with each other.

The fact that we are given the gift of God’s love and forgiveness; and surrounded by grace is really more than we deserve! These are gifts we could not earn on our own, but were given to us out of God’s great love for us all; and this is more than fair…just as we are often more than fair with our children…even if we do not always feel they deserve it!

This is our hope today: that it is never God’s will that life is unfair to us…and that God weeps with us when we are faced with these overwhelming challenges; as through Jesus, God became one of us, and knows our pain…which is why we are given this love and support…and forgiveness that we did not earn, and do not deserve!

And this is MORE than fair…this is love…and this is the same love that shines out from the risen Christ, the love that we share with our children and with each other…the love that gives us the hope to carry on when the world is less than fair with us!

Let Us Pray

Dear God, thank you for being our perfect parent…for being more than fair with us, by surrounding us with your gracious love and forgiveness…gifts we do not deserve or have earned! Please help us to share this gift with our children and each other, showing them compassion and forgiveness…showing them understanding and love. Filled with the light of Christ’s salvation, help us to shine this light into all the dark corners of our unfair world, to remind us all that we are in this together, and that we are immersed in your grace, and that this is more than fair!

Amen

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