Divine Abundance

On March 17, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Divine Abundance Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Matthew 20 can be a difficult passage. I mean, just imagine: If I hired Twila at $10 […]

Divine Abundance
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Matthew 20 can be a difficult passage. I mean, just imagine:
If I hired Twila at $10 an hour for a day’s work and she worked 8 hours, that’s $80 she’s due.

If I hired Tara, same wage, but she works 6 hours, and I hire Anne who works 4 hours….we all know how that should shake out. Twila gets $80, Tara gets $60, and Anne gets $40.
If i decide to be generous and give them all a $10 bonus – great, then Twila gets $90, Tara gets $70 and Anne gets $50.

But if i get a wild hair to pay them all $80, that’s kind of kick in the shin to Twila.
Anne and Tara may be thinking, “Sweet!” But it’s hard to make the case that I’ve been fair to Twila.

And this scenario is our gospel lesson today and I’m supposed to do something with it. I should get a bonus for that!

Jesus weaves a tale today that teaches two lessons.
The first is, is treat people better.
The second is, God’s love really is all-inclusive and unconditional.
He does this by making up a story about day laborers, a notoriously exploited group since time immemorial.

Day laborers are often treated like fire wood, used as fuel that burns up quickly and is easily replaced.
So from the moment we hear that someone is looking for day laborers, we already are feeling a little uneasy.

A landowner hires some people, and the some more, and then some more.
Then, after everyone has done their work for the day, the employer makes a point of letting them all know that they are getting paid according to his whim and not their work.

Why was he so messy about announcing everyone’s wages? He could have paid them and said nothing and most people would have never been the wiser. He has intentionally stuck his finger in Twila’s eye, and for what?

Twila complains. She’s like, “WTH, man?!”
He tells her to dummy up. He can do as he likes.

Finally, we hear the last are first and the first are last…is that meant to shut up Twila, or is it foreshadowing…You see, the first person mentioned in the story is the landowner. He’s first; will he wind up last? Is Jesus saying that the current power holders who play games with our lives won’t always be in charge? Those who are in charge now will one day be last.

See…it’s tricky. If the story is about our world, then it seems to be chastising the landowner, and is therefore a call to social and economic justice.

But this parable is a double edged sword. The very first line of the reading tells us that this parable is meant to describe God’s Realm.

We aren’t talking about the ways of the world. We are talking about God’s realm. In the world, there are always struggles between deeds, needs, and greed. We have to work for fairness and equity.

But God’s realm isn’t exactly fair. Fair would mean people would get what they deserved (or at least what they needed to live with dignity), but in God’s realm, grace, not merit or even need, is the the measurement used. Grace – unmerited, unearned, absolutely free favor.

God’s realm is like the family of the prodigal son. One son stayed home and was a good boy, the other son wasted his inheritance and came crawling back and was received warmly. The good son was like, WTH, man?! But the parents said, “you’ve always had it all. Your brother forgot who he was and lived in needless separation. We are just happy that he now remembers what you’ve always known…he can’t be lost, forgotten or denied.”
No child of God can be lost, forgotten, or denied.

That’s the real lesson. God gives all to all because God is all in all.
That’s divine abundance. It’s not as much about stuff as it is about the peace and joy that comes from knowing we are forever one with God. Its the allness of God in which we all share.

Transgender people, you are in and of God, forever.
Same-gender loving people, you are in and of God, forever.
Migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, you are in and of God, forever.
LGBTQ United Methodists, you are in and of God, forever.
The 49 Muslims in NZ who were killed during their time of prayer and worship were and are in and of God, forever.
Our loved ones, including Bishop Grant Lynn Ford who made his transition yesterday, are in and of God, forever.

If you’ve been told that you had to earn God’s favor with creed or coin, then I urge you to reject that mess for the lie that it is. You are forever part of an everlasting omnipresent love; please let nothing ever take that blessed assurance from you.

The 8 hour laborer who has spent her whole life in church, The 6 hour laborer who found religion after college and became Jewish, The 4 hour laborer who thought religion was silly until in midlife when she discovered and started to practice Buddhism, The 2 hour laborer who has found sobriety and salvation late in life and in religion but in a 12 Step Program…
One and all are embraced fully by the Love that we call God. That’s what the story is telling us today.

There are well-meaning folk, themselves victims of oppressive theologies, who insist that you must do this, or believe that, or reject those in order to be embraced by God, that you must earn God’s acceptance by accepting the theology they are peddling.
Sometimes they‘ll try to seal the deal by saying, “You’ll have a long time in hell to figure out how wrong you are.”
But hear this: a threatening gospel is no gospel at all.
I will never reduce my faith to fire insurance.

God is all loving and omnipresent…So God is the Love that is everywhere; it will not and cannot let us go, not in this life or beyond. I worship not to appease an angry God, but because I know God to be my life, and I worship in community because in the presence of God-filed people I find encouragement and hope and joy.

God is what I call the life, love, wisdom, power, and presence that fills the universe and beyond; it is the one presence and the one power and it will never and can never reject anyone for any reason.

A god who simply gives all that God is to all of us all the time…I believe that is the point of today’s parable. And this is the good news! Amen.

I cannot earn God’s love,
Nor can I lose it.
God gives abundantly.
I receive God’s grace gratefully.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can
take care of it!