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Summary: Looking at the Parable from a spiritual, physical, emotional and social viewpoint: I. THE LORD HAS WORK FOR ALL OF US THIS MORNING! II. SECONDLY, WE SEE GOD SHARES GRACIOUSLY WITH EVERYONE!

Scripture: Matthew 20: 1-16 (Call to Worship - Psalm 145:1-8)

Theme: God - "My World (Vineyard) - My Rules - My Grace"

Looking at the Parable from a spiritual, physical, emotional and social viewpoint:

I. THE LORD HAS WORK FOR ALL OF US THIS MORNING!

II. SECONDLY, WE SEE GOD SHARES GRACIOUSLY WITH EVERYONE!

INTRO:

Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus the Christ who came to take away the sins of our world!

One of the joys of growing up in my little neighborhood in Kentucky was that the children in our area would get together to play games. More often than not the children would all gather at our house. We had the most children and so it just was a natural place for us to gather there to play a game. We might play hide and go seek or a game of softball or even a game of kick ball. Afterwards we would usually have something to drink and a few of my mom's cookies. Come to think of it, it might have been my mom's cookies that caused us to play at our house.

Before we would start any game the older children would lay down the rules. They wanted everything to be fair and just. We had to know where to run and how we could get someone out. In softball that was easy but when it came to kickball you had to hit below the shoulders. Some of us were small and we didn't want anyone to get hurt because then we couldn't play. Everything had to be just so and so. These were the rules and we were going to have a fair and honest game.

Now, of course that didn't mean that everything always worked out. There were times that we younger ones couldn't kick the ball very good, we were not very good at hide and seek and we were no "Babe Ruth" at hitting the softball. And so, the older ones would "fudge" the game a bit. They would allow us to have four strikes in softball, they would miss us on purpose with the ball in kick ball and they would let us find them in hide and seek.

However, as is usually the case there were some that didn't think that was fair. It was usually the ones that were just old enough to know how to play but still not good enough to be the best. They thought everyone should have to play by the same rules. But since it was the older and bigger children that let us "fudge" the game a bit the middle children couldn't do anything about it.

Our games were a lot like our Gospel passage this morning. Matthew shares with us a passage in which Jesus is revealing a bit more what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like. Jesus does this not only to give us some more information but to challenge us to make our own human society resemble more and more God's Kingdom in Heaven. Jesus wants us to know that when it comes to playing out the game of life here on earth we are to go more by God's Rules than we are our own made up rules. God's grace is to always override our human rules of fairness and justice.

Let's dig into our passage and see what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us:

I. THE LORD HAS WORK FOR ALL OF US THIS MORNING!

One of the things that emerges from this passage is the fact that time after time this vineyard owner goes back to get more and more workers. In fact, he goes to the marketplace five different times. He starts out early in the morning, and then returns at the 3rd hour, the 6th hour, the 9th hour and for a final time at the 11th hour.

The whole scene of this parable might be unfamiliar to many of us this morning. However, at that time and even in some places today, day laborers were and are a common sight in the marketplace. People gather from all walks of life seeking for someone to hire them for the day. Some of those seeking such occupation back at in Jesus' day would have been slaves that their masters would have tried to rent out for the day. These would be slaves who didn't have enough work on master's place and so their masters would try to pick up a little bit of extra money by renting out them out.

The rest of the group would be a varied and sundry mix of humanity. Some of the people vying for work would be those who were unemployed and were desperate to find work to feed their families and provide a little shelter. Others would include those who had just lost their land or homes due to high taxes and therefore would be willing to do anything they could to scrape by. Many gathering there were women and children who had lost their husbands and/or parents and were merely looking for a bit of food and some safe lodging. Finally, there would be a group made up of those who suffered from some type of handicap, had been recently been released from prison or were prostitutes. All of these various groups of individuals were seen as the expendables by ancient society.

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