the 16th sunday after pentecost
the PRAYER. . .
Almighty and eternal God, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants. Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, grant us your merciful judgment, and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
the READING. . .
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1″The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.”
the DEVOTION. . .
“The Workers in the Vineyard.” That’s how I came to know this parable. The title acts as a cursor pointing to the meaning of the story. This time through, though, I realized the parable’s not so much about the laborers as it is the employer! Economic systems – Capitalism, Socialism – have nothing to do with it. It should be called “The Parable of the Good Employer!” The focus is on the openhandedness and bigheartedness of the “landowner.” His reason-for-being? Not, foremost and first, making money. But providing workers with a way to make a living! With a way to make a life!
Reminds me of a story I’d heard about Milton Hershey, the chocolate mogul. Early on in the Great Depression, Mr. Hershey began developing his town. Hershey, PA. Community Building. Theatre. Arena. Stadium. Hotel. As he was watching the newfangled steam shovels, his foreman boasted that the machinery did the job of forty men! Mr. Hershey told him to get rid of the steam shovels and hire forty men. Didn’t make much business sense, but for him the bottom-line wasn’t, merely, the bottom-line. It was people. For the kingdom of heaven, you see, is like an employer! Like a good employer!
Bob Barndt, pastor