Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Killing the Messenger

"What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him." Luke 20:13

I was listening to the news in the car last evening as I was waiting at the train station. The economic news was bleak, yet another day of market down turns. Fear and panic seem to be the overwhelming emotion of the day. I couldn't help but think that when times were good, gratitude was not then the over whelming emotion - greed took the day. It never belonged to us in the first place. And yet how easily we congratulate ourselves when things are going well and how quickly we want to find someone to blame when things don't go well. How quickly we take ownership of the abundance and the luxury. Personal and private ownership is seen as the ultimate goal, and amassing great fortunes a sign of success. How reluctant we are to admit to our selfishness, and instead want bailouts? No one is willing to let go of control, even when what they control does not belong to them. Little of the money in stocks belongs to those who control it, likewise with banks, other financial institutions and even the church. The cure for our woes, whether personal or corporate might just be found in admitting that we are tenant farmers, that we owe an enormous gratitude for the abundance, and we are bound by the owner of the vineyard to share the bounty in good times and in bad. We await the coming of the Son this Advent, but what will we do when he comes?

Jesus tells the parable of the tenants as the religious leadership of the day listened in. The owner has rented out the land to tenants who do not want to pay their due and finally figure that if they kill the son, as they have killed all the other messengers, then the land will be theirs. They instead, lose their lives and their stake in the land. It is easy to hear this story and judge the tenants as foolish - although all of us have the desire to control what is not ours, reap abundance where we haven't labored and be tenants no more. And yet, letting go to being a tenant invites us to be caretakers and partners in the abundance and generosity of God. The God whose vineyards and storehouses are full at all times, no matter how fickle humans or their markets behave. We tenants have a part in the work of God, whose love is constant and continuous, who does not judge us by what we have but by how we love.

Today, I want to be a happy tenant. I want to live awaiting the arrival of the Son. Awaiting the messenger from God, I want to be ready to welcome and share all that I have been given. I want to look on others today as equal partners in this field, equal laborers who chief labor is love. I want to share what I have knowing it is not mine but God's and knowing that God's abundance and generosity is given for me to share. May we all have the courage, in these times when fear presides to welcome the message and the messenger, and to share the bounty we have been given.

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