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What is grace? Is it the goal or means of faith? Is it the beginning of the end of knowing God? Do we receive it or give it? GRACE – the paradoxical notion of God’s love at the heart of today’s parable – is also at the heart of the historical uprising in the Church that we now call the Protestant Reformation. The Sunday before Halloween – is always Halloween Parade Sunday here in Rockridge, and in the wider church it’s Reformation Sunday – as we remember that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittemberg on October 31, 1517 – an action which set off what would become the Reformation.
In the wider context of the gospel of Matthew, the previous chapter (19) contains two episodes about true riches and the wealthy struggling to enter – the kingdom of God. They end with the reversal saying in 19:30 “The first shall be last, and the last first.” This same reversal saying concludes today’s parable, thus connecting the three parables in their shared literary construction. How does this parable about the Vineyard relate to the encounter of the young rich man and the response of the disciples?
Here are some keys for reading the parable that Jesus tells here:
Questions for Going Deeper
What word, phrase or image in the parable grabs your attention?
Is this parable about:
A warning to the disciples and followers of Jesus to not get to big of a head?
A description of how God loves us – (aka Grace)?
A description of God’s justice and sense of justice (aka grace)?
There is no way that this way of paying people for their work is equitable. So what is the different way in which the owner is treating the unemployed? Why?
If the parable is about the kingdom of heaven, what is Jesus saying about God (the owner) and us or human beings (the workers)? Is it about followers of Jesus only? Or larger than that?
What really bugs you about grace? How would you have felt if you’d been a worker…hired at daybreak? Hired at 3pm? Hired at 5pm?
How does this parable and the living word it contains touch and interact with your life today, our life as a community?
Last week we talked about God not doing the same old thing, but a new thing. How does today’s passage relate to that?