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Grace and Fairness in the Kingdom

Grace and Fairness in the Kingdom


Climate change is a controversial topic. Mention it at a social gathering and it’s a safe bet you’ll stimulate spirited discussion from opposing viewpoints.

Climate change within church culture is no less controversial. Those who have been faithful members of a church community over many years can sometimes feel confused or resentful when new members – ‘latecomers’ – introduce ideas and practices that differ from what has become established tradition.

Change can be invigorating, opening up new possibilities. Change can also disturb and challenge us. Yet it is inevitable. We have a choice: we can embrace change with optimism and enthusiasm, or we can resist it.

This week’s gospel presents Jesus telling the Parable of the Vineyard Workers (sometimes called the Parable of the Latecomers). It’s a rude reminder that God’s grace and generosity defies the world’s logic, and that we can never earn our way into God’s kingdom, no matter how deserving we may think we are.

God desires that all should respond to his invitation to enjoy his gift of salvation earned through Jesus Christ and so share in the treasure that is eternal life.

Many people we don’t expect to see are part of the kingdom, or will be. And we must be thankful and never begrudge those who ‘turn up late’. For no one deserves to be there – we are there by grace alone.


ripped offMatthew 20:1-16   Parable of the Vineyard Workers (Latecomers)

201“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”