Summary: How does Gods grace affect our lives, and are we willing to accept it, and turn away from what the world regards as important.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
When I was a child I hated P.E. at school, whenever we were going to play a team sport, I always knew that the two captains would be the same two athletic boys, and that I would always be the one who wasn’t picked, but just ended up on the team that got the last boy standing.
I wasn’t very sporty as a child, and I knew that I wasn’t any good, but even with that being said, it would have been nice to have actually been picked a little earlier. But one day, I think Mr Starkey; my P.E. teacher must have known what I was thinking, because instead of choosing the same boys, to pick the teams, he asked me and the other boy who always got picked last to be the captains.
In many ways it didn’t make any difference, because we picked the best boys at what we were playing, however in other ways it made all the difference, because it gave us a boost as we knew that we weren’t going to be the last ones picked on that day!
What we see in the experience of mine isn’t an act of pity; it is an act of grace. Grace is when one in superior power, shows kindness or mercy to one in a lesser position. In many ways what Mr Starkey did was more than either me or the other boy deserved because neither of us excelled athletically, it was an act of grace.
In our Gospel this morning, Christ tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner that went out and hired workers for his vineyard. Some he hired early in the day, telling them that he would pay them the usual daily wage. He went back at various times of the day and found more workers waiting to be hired. Each time he hired those that were there, telling them that he would pay them what was right. We are not told why some had not found work or if they had shown up at the marketplace late or any other details.
At the end of the day when it was time to pay the workers. He began with the ones most recently hired and he paid them the usual daily wage. That excited the ones who had been there all day. They thought that surely if he paid the late ones that much he obviously would pay them even more for all their hard work. Their excitement was short lived. In fact, they were pretty upset when they got the same pay working all day as people who only worked an hour.
When the landowner heard them grumbling, he tried to explain that he wasn’t unfair at all. He gave them what they had agreed upon, and it was his money and he could be generous if that is what he chose to do. We aren’t told how the workers responded to that.
It would seem that the landowner didn’t know much about business, because word of this generosity would probably spread around the town, and the next time he went out to hire help, no one would be there until the last hour of the day!
But that which the landowner did know about, however, is grace. The workers that came at the end of the day didn’t get what they deserved, they received his unearned and undeserved generosity, and that is at the heart of what grace is.
For all of us who are people of faith, we know that we do not deserve God’s grace. Nothing that we can do will put us in a position of deserving God’s grace. All we can do is receive the gift that is offers to us.
It’s been said that Christianity is supremely a religion of grace. And that is certainly true. But, even so, grace is not well understood and often not really believed. We use the word a great deal but we rarely think about what it means.
In his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” Phillip Yancey points out that part of our problem is in the nature of grace itself. Grace is scandalous. It’s hard to accept, hard to believe, and hard to receive. Grace shocks us in what it offers. It is truly not of this world. It frightens us with what it does for sinners.
Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would never do for them, but given the chance we would likely choose to save the not-so-bad.
However, all we have to do is read the scripture to see that God starts with prostitutes and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to the giver and nothing to the receiver. It is given to those who don’t deserve it, barely recognise it, and hardly appreciate it. That’s why God alone gets the glory in our salvation, because Christ did all the work when he died on the cross for each of us.