Summary: This is a sermon with a strong call to stewardship as a response to God’s eternal love. This includes prayer, presence, gifts, and service as well as how we live our lives.
Paonia United Methodist Church
October 9, 2002
Rev. John Nadasi
The parallels are clear.
The Pharisees knew he was talking about them.
They had been given a vineyard to work in.
Overtime, they claimed the vineyard as their own,
No longer open to the outsider, but instead, a closed fraternity of “holy” people.
Other prophets were beaten, maimed, and murdered
so that the assumed authority of the Pharisees would not be challenged.
When the fruit of their Kingdom brings anger, rejection, judgment, and resentment,
It is clear that they had missed their call to tend God’s vineyard,
And were tending the vineyard of their own sin.
Therefore, their commission was taken away from them.
Folks, a lot has changed in the last 2000 years.
The world is certainly a different place.
We have cars, cell phones, the internet, mass transportation, health care, etc.
Our world looks nothing like Jerusalem 33 ad.
But the funny thing is this…
We as people…
What motivates us, drives us, and sometimes consumes us
Has not changed all that much.
The pitfalls are quite similar.
When we start out on our Christian journey
it is easy to see that the gifts and opportunities we are given are from God.
For those of us who can remember who we were before we came to know Christ,
The transition is a fairly obvious one.
For those who came to know Christ at a young age,
I suspect that transition is a bit more obscure.
And the danger is this…
God comes into our lives,
Changes us, creates a new heart in us,
Cleans up some of the mess we made,
And, all of a sudden, we look around and say,
“Darn, I’m good. Look at me… what I have done.”
And, then we forget the owner.
We come to think of the vineyard as something we own.
The church, our jobs, our money, our possessions, and yes, even our bodies.
People of God… none of this stuff is ours.
We are merely stewards in the vineyard…
Not the owners.
I’ll tell you what…
I have to be completely honest with you for a moment…
There are a lot of things that I love about Paonia…
The water, the people, the mountains, the view, and yes, even this church.
But, one of the most rewarding parts of living here is not having to live in a church parsonage.
Now, before I offend anyone, let me tell you, I am going somewhere with this…
So, stay with me.
For those of you who have not had the experience of living in a church parsonage,
It is an interesting experience.
You are not allowed to make improvements without several committee meetings,
Paint the yellow walls,
Change the carpet sister Mildred donated in the fifties,
Or remove anything from the bright orange kitchen.
Furthermore, you are to make no repairs without a vote from the trustees.
If a major appliance goes out,
I went 9 months without an oven before.
Roaches, ants, water problems, you name it…
And no power to do anything about it.
And, these repairs can take months to happen, if at all.
Needless to say,
I don’t miss living in a parsonage.
Now, I said I was going somewhere with this.
Folks, living in a church parsonage is a microcosm of the Christian life…
With one key difference.
Like the parsonage,
Your life is not your own,
You are dealt certain cards to play with,
And that is what you have.
Some people get a dealt a good hand,
Some people get carpet from the fifties.
You make the best of what you have to work with.
What you have is never your own.
It is borrowed, and you are only the tenant there to manage it as best
As possible before giving it back.
But there is a key difference, and the key difference is this…
theoretically, the function of a parsonage is that,
It allows the pastor to be concerned about other things rather than the house
They live in and the finances and maintenance that goes with it.
Believe it or not,
This is exactly what God had in mind when he created the vineyard.
God desires to order our lives,
To make it manageable, even prosperous if we will trust him.
If we put him first,
These other things take on a far different perspective.
God gives us a certain order to our lives if we are willing to be obedient,
Faithful stewards of the gifts he has given us.
When we recognize that what we have is not ours in the first place,
It frees us from having to constantly try and control and
worry about everything,
It allows God to be God…
The master of the vineyard.