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Trinity Church is a friendly welcoming community which seeks to enable people to explore the Christian life of faith, worship and service.
We regret that church services and activities have been suspended for the time being.
September 20th 2020
Reflection by Rev Fiona Brown
Jesus has just made the puzzling statement that “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.” To explain he tells this parable.
Reading: St Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 20, verse 1 – 16
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 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.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
On first reading this passage seems unfair and the Trade Unions would not be happy with it. Why should those who came later in the day be paid the same as those who had worked all day? Remember though, that the early starters knew what the deal was. They just didn’t know that the same deal would be there for latecomers.
The thing about God’s rewards is that they are not earned. They are a gift from his mercy and graciousness. We do not earn God’s love and approval. We do not have to serve an apprenticeship before we are accepted. God accepts us as we are - always. We may find it hard to accept that that person over there who has only just started on their faith journey will receive the same reward of eternal life as the person who has been here for ages, has been a pillar of the Church, and has trusted God for a very long time. But that’s how it is and we must not get jealous, resentful or possessive of our place in the hierarchy as we see it. There is no hierarchy with God. He loves and cares for us all.
Thank you, Lord, that you are merciful and that we do not have to earn your love. Thank you that you are always here for us and ready to receive us, even when we let you down. Give us the grace to be as accepting towards others as you are to us and forgive us when we get it wrong. Amen.
Read: STF 565 Only by grace can we stand, only by grace can we enter
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