In 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached a famous sermon with the title, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." In great detail Edwards spoke of the wrath people rightly faced when they confronted the judgment of a God who was angry at the way the people had failed to do what they were called to do. While many people understand only this much about that famous sermon, and hold it up as an example of the worst sort of preaching meant to terrify those who hear what is said, the sermon itself is actually quite pastoral.
In this week’s lectionary gospel passage, Jesus tells a parable that at first glance seems antithetical to modern sensibilities. A vineyard owner is hiring day laborers to work in his fields, and early in the day he hires several workers at the usual going daily rate. Later in the day, the owner sees additional workers still standing at their gathering place, hoping for even a small job, and he tells them to go to the vineyard as well. Yet at the end of the day, the workers who labored for only a few hours receive a full day’s earnings.
Ron Love Mark Ellingsen Bonnie Bates Bob Ove Frank Ramirez Bill Thomas
“God will provide.” We’ve all heard that expression. Probably we’ve said it a few times too. Those are the easy parts, hearing it and saying it. Trusting that he will can be a different matter. I read the following story in a missionary magazine, and thought it would be a great way to illustrate this passage.
I heard a story once of a custodian who worked at a certain university. Among his responsibilities, he emptied the wastebaskets in the administration building where the president of the university had his office. The school underwent a change in presidents during this custodian’s time there, and he found that his experience of his job changed. “I didn’t mind emptying Dr. Wilson’s garbage,” he remarked, referring to the former president.
Recently I noticed in the media that the government are planning to give each teenager in England a gift of up to 10,000 pounds on reaching the age of eighteen. My first reaction was one of horror, imagining what most teenagers of my acquaintance would do with that kind of money!
So this fellow up in Sonoma County, not far from wine-growing Napa County, anxiously watched the weather forecast. Heavy rains of November were on the way across the Pacific. The grapes were mature and ready for harvest. Having no regular work crew, he went in to the union hall to get day laborers to do the picking. They agreed to work for ten dollars per hour. But the work didn't go fast enough and the sky was darkening with black clouds. Several times during the day he added more and more workers until the harvest was safely in the winery's barn.