September 14, 2015; All We Like Children

Matthew 21:28-32 (NRSV): The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

In the parable Jesus does not present us with a son who actually says he will work in the vineyard and then actually does what he promises, instead he gives us two sons who do not do what they said they would. But then, if the sons had done what they were supposed to do from the beginning, the parable would not provide much of a lesson.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

With his parable Jesus acknowledges this fact: that nothing is simple, because we are all imperfect beings and have a propensity to act selfishly and even make bad choices on occasion, but the story also reminds us that most people are good, and even if our initial thoughts are selfish we often wind up doing the right thing…eventually, even if it takes a little push at times.

At times I have been like both of the sons in the parable. Sometimes I was like the first, and I would refuse to do what I was asked to do, but then later I felt guilty about it and decided to do it any way, as I did not want to let down my parents, and also did not want to have to be forced to handle the task later on. Most of the time however, I was like the second son, who said “I go, sir” and then I went off and did whatever I wanted to do, instead of keeping my promise.

I was caught up short one summer day when I promised my mother that I would clean the bathroom, but instead gave it a quick wipe-down and was running out of the house to see my friends when my mother stopped me! She was dissatisfied with the job I had done and sent me back up to the bathroom, to scrub the grout with a toothbrush!

That hot, humid summer day spent cleaning the bathroom with a toothbrush has stayed with me and has often made me think twice about not living up to my promises or keeping my responsibilities!

As parents, we have may have had similar scenarios played out in our own homes, as it can be difficult to get our kids to do what we ask. It is bad enough when they just come out and say “No” but it can be more frustrating to hear “Yes” only to discover later that what you asked was never done! Of course this makes it all the more sweet when they do what we ask them to do with no complaining.

But then, nothing is ever simple, is it?

Being single parents, we know this all too well, and we can also understand why it can be so difficult to get our kids to do what we ask, especially if it is an unpleasant task…who wouldn’t rather be out playing, watching TV or on-line, then cleaning their room, or mowing the lawn? We too have been asked to do tasks that are difficult, and that don’t always seem fair to us…when we would rather be having fun, or chasing our own dreams for a change.

But life is what it is, and the truth of it is that while we are often called to do more difficult tasks as single parents, and as such our lives may be much different from what we had expected, but they are also richer and fuller lives due to the gift of our children….and whoever said life was going to turn out as we had planned?

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

However, the good news is that we are not called to walk through the obstacle course of parenting on our own…because we have all been blessed! I don’t just mean blessed by having our children with us, but also blessed in being surrounded by God’s grace! Blessed by having people in our lives to support us, and to help us to get back on track and do the right thing, even if at first we act with frustration or selfishness.

Blessed because for all those times we fail to do God’s Will in our lives, God treats us like we would treat our children when they go astray: with love and forgiveness!

And that IS simple, as God’s grace is given to us freely, a gift we are called to share with all those who are in our lives, from strangers to our own loved ones and children!

Let Us Pray:

Dear God, please forgive us for those times when our selfishness takes over, or our frustrations get the better of us, and we fail to follow you. In this same way, help us forgive our children for those times when they fail to do what we ask. Let us reach out to others when we need help to get back on track, and to also reach out to those who need our help to do the next right thing. Thank you for blessing us with all those who walk with us in our lives, and for surrounding us with your gracious love, the one true and simple thing in the midst of a world where things seldom seem simple or true.



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