Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Vineyard

 ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 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 get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when 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 lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’
 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 amazing in our eyes”?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
* The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’*
 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. Matthew 21:33-46.

The world is often a challenging place, where our skills and faith are tested. The hardest challenges to face are often those from within not without. I can remember times when I have been terribly hurt by those I trusted, some within the church. We are all stewards, temporary tenants of this vineyard, sent here to serve the world and not control others. We are call to be gentle gardeners, humble leaders, not seeking our own benefit but the blessing of others.

Jesus is being attacked by the religious leadership, the same folks who had been entrusted with the care of the faith and the community. They were more interested in status and control, in wealth and power rather than caring for their people. Jesus knew their ways and his parables stung them intensely, as they were meant to do. All of us in leadership need to be reminded how easily it is to become enamored with power and control, how dangerous we can get when we think we are somehow more important than the people entrusted to us. God invites us all today to examine our words and our behavior.

Today I ask God to help me be a good steward, humble and gentle with all I encounter. May we all hear this parable as a nudge to examine our hearts, minds and behavior. May we lead with compassion and gentleness, land giving again ourselves to the direction of the Divine.

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