The first of two sermons that ended up being on grace! Trinity 14 Year A
recording of Trinity 14
This one got preached three times, twice in the morning at one church and then at another for Evensong;
The Parable of the Generous Landlord
It’s very easy to cry “ unfair” isn’t it. If you’ve ever spent much time round children you know that they are particularly good at comparing and pointing out injustices! He’s got more juice that me, that’s not fair it’s my turn. That’s a bigger slice of cake than I have, Why can’t I stay up as late as she can?
If we’re honest it doesn’t stop there does it?
Which of us hasn’t had at least an internal moan about what someone else has, whether material or otherwise? The grass is always greener, someone else go a better deal, had better weather on holiday, has children with better exam grades, or something..
And out it spreads –what about our attitudes to immigrants or people reduced to claiming benefits, people being rehabilitated whether from crime or drugs or other destructive behaviours.
“ do they really deserve that help? “ we ask ourselves, and feel resentful and cross..
There is nothing new under the sun.
Jesus told this parable, The landowner is hiring; one group of people are right there at the start –full days work, full days pay –they’re sorted
And a bit later there’s still some need for more workers, so the ones who had maybe dithered or perhaps they were helping a family member, getting the kids sorted, getting granny up –now they get hired, they’re not expecting special treatment – but wow, the landowner offers them a full days pay –sure thing.
And throughout the day he keeps hiring, and he keeps offering full pay even to those who for whatever reason – and let’s be honest we don’t know what, got hired just before knocking off time.
And the early workers kick off… what’s going on –we’ve worked jolly hard all day, and in they come , taking our pay and our jobs, lazy good for nothings…
But the landowner says to them “ you agreed.. I’ve not cheated you, I’ve just been generous to those who came after”
And there’s nothing much more to be said is there? No case for an argument really.
God is that landowner
He calls us all, all the time he is calling us, and them, and the others.
The people down the road who haven’t got a penny, the young chap who is trying to blot it all out, the city lawyer with the big house and the polished life ( you think) .
The young mum struggling everyday to get up and keep going on no sleep.
He’s calling those who haven’t had a day when they didn’t pray and those who swear more than they say Amen
He’s calling everyone, because we’re all sinners, and we all need his grace,
None of us deserve his grace, but God is outrageously and extravagantly generous
He doesn’t hold back or impose conditions, he just offers, and all we need to do is accept.
He sent his Son, himself to live among us, to die, to rise again – to conquer the last thing that scares , fears and plagues us. Death itself.
He gave everything so that he can give us everything.
All that is God, all that he has, is freely and generously offered to us, to them, to the other, to everyone.
It turns the world and its values of exclusion and judgement on its head, upside down
But that is what grace is.
It’s all of God for all of us,
Transforming us from within, transforming our relationships our lives and our world. Showing us beauty where we have not seen it, life where there has been death.
Poured out again and again, from the cross and the empty tomb, this grace…
forgiveness acceptance love change eternity joy…
Remembered at this table as we eat together, extravagantly feasting at Gods table, remembering with thanksgiving his immense love.
None of us can say “it’s not fair” as we watch others blessed
None of us dare,
Because none of us deserved this.
None of us can set the rules as to who is in or out. We are all “ in”
one of my favourite writers Sara Miles having come to faith from atheism simply through taking bread & wine & encountering God “ the god I didn’t believe in, suddenly in my mouth, real”
“God’s grace is frankly offensive in its indiscriminate love of archbishops and prostitutes, drag queens and bankers, thieves and millionaires”
And all we must do is respond with love and openness and allow this overwhelming scandalous, generosity to change us daily to become more and more like the one who gives so freely to us,
Becoming part of his outpouring of grace to others
Part of his mission of transformation to our world
Not merely watchers but part of the story.