Jesus said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16
Some days things just don't seem fair. We say to ourselves, "it shouldn't be this way." The children at this camp have many challenges, and sometimes we can feel sorrow for the unfairness of what they have to contend with. And by doing so, we can miss all the blessings and possibilities they bring to our lives. We can see only the challenges and miss the extraordinary strength and capacity they share with each of us.
Jesus unpacks his understanding of the first shall be last. We as humans can be very legalistic but God's love is not bound by our legalities or our childish notion of justice. God's love is bigger than justice and those who show up late are never excluded. We can bind folks or set them free to be loved. Those who would go first in God's kingdom are called to be ready to give up place, control and legalistic thinking. We are invited by our Creator to draw the circle ever wider, ever increasing the welcome and inclusion.
Today I ask God to help me not be a barrier but a welcome. May we live as those who are showered with love and are willing to share our blessings with those at the end of the line, the latecomers and those who by their attitudes show us they haven't had a blessings in a very long time.