Thursday, December 5, 2013

Faithful Care

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
Matthew 21:33-44

I am staying in the midst of California wine country at the Bishop's ranch. It is an extraordinarily beautiful place, chilly at night and warm during the day, surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see. I really don't know anything about the care of vineyards nor how to grow grapes. The process of making wine, average or great is a mystery to me. And yet, being here, in the midst of these vineyards, I understand how powerful the images of the parables, and the importance of their care and keeping. Many thousands of people are reliant for their survival on these vineyards.

Jesus tells the parable of the unfaithful tenants to remind us of how important our service is to God. We are given to the care and tending of others, the nurture and love and the most vulnerable. Their care and feeding is our obligation, and our faithfulness and respect is essential. God promises abundant blessings to those of us who are willing to put the care of others first, tenderly loving the most fragile of the vines. God invites us to rededicate ourselves to service today.

Today I ask God to give me the courage to step out in faith, expecting vineyards and gardens to tend. May we all trust that there are fields for us to tend, and abundant ministry ahead. May we be grateful for the places we have been planted and those who have nurtured our bodies and spirits with love and faith today.

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