October 4th, 2020
As Ted and I travelled out to Morgan’s Point United Church on Saturday, to have my sermon taped and put on line, we were absolutely thrilled with the glorious colours of the trees along the drive. There is such beauty in the Wainfleet area during every season of the year, but the beautiful reds, golds, and yellows of autumn are an absolute joy to my heart. Although the temperatures have been dropping this week, I have noticed that the days continue to remain sunny as they bid us to come and enjoy picturesque walks along the paths in our neighbourhoods.
My sermon this week is based on Matthew 21:33-46. It is entitled ‘How’s the Vineyard Growing?’. This passage opens with Jesus in a confrontation with the Pharisees. As words are exchanged between Jesus and the Pharisees, it becomes evident that the Pharisees do not like what Jesus is saying. They want to put a stop to his words, and, in fact, they want to have Jesus arrested. But, Jesus does not let their dislike of him deter him from speaking the truth. In fact, Jesus never lets up on the Pharisees.
As I thought about this particular confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, I wondered what lay at the root of it. As I prayed about it, I finally realized that it was because of Jesus’ love for the Pharisees that he was unwilling to give up on them. So, this is not so much a parable of exclusion, or condemnation, as it is a parable of Jesus’ unwillingness to give up on the Pharisees, or anyone else for that matter. That is the good news of hope, and joy, in today’s parable.
Jesus’ unwillingness to give up on us, just as he was unable to give up on the Pharisees, often confronts us with the truth about our lives that can be difficult to hear and accept. We may listen to his words, but we may not want to accept that Jesus is talking about us. This parable, and the confrontation this parable provokes, are like a mirror held before us, so that we might see and recognize in ourselves what Jesus sees and recognizes. This is not to condemn us, but to call us back to life, and to lead us home to God. Sometimes, we find ourselves living neither as the people God knows us to be, nor as the people we truly want to be. In someway we have stepped outside of ourselves, and sidestepped our own life.
The antidote for healing begins with first recognizing that we have stepped outside ourself. As we do that, we need to look at the vineyards of our life – the many individuals and circumstances that surround us. We need to look at the fruit we are bearing for these people, and in these situations. We need to ask ourselves if we are growing and thriving as we seek to live in God’s presence. The answer to these questions abides within each of us. We only need to listen for the voice of God, from deep within, and to respond with love, joy, peace, and hope as we learn to more intentionally live out from the centre of God’s presence in our lives.
It is my hope and prayer that each of you have a wonderful week filled with God’s goodness, joy, and peace. I look forwards to connecting in with each of you again though out the week as we share stories, prayers, laughter, and tears. Remember that as we pray for one another every morning at 10:30, God grants us wisdom, love and peace to hold each other in God’s infinite love and care. Keep well and safe.