Work in the vineyard

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost; 27 September 2020; Proper 21A (RCL); Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32.

There are certainly a lot of parables in the Gospels about vineyards and vines. Isaiah 5:1-10 and Psalm 80:8-19 and other such passages give us a hint about why the Gospel writers should have used the image of the vineyard so often. In Isaiah 5, God expects grapes from the vineyard, and instead finds wild grapes; expects justice, but finds bloodshed; expects righteousness, but hears a cry.

Continue reading “Work in the vineyard”

What is fair?

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost; 20 September 2020; Proper 20A (RCL); Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16.

Oh, this parable irks us. I don’t know how often I’ve heard in a bible study on this parable, “But it’s just not fair!” I think that’s exactly what the teller of the parable wanted us to think. It should challenge our understanding of what is fair.

Continue reading “What is fair?”

Debt or gift

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost; 13 September 2020; Proper 19A (RCL); Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35.

This passage in Matthew’s Gospel follows on from the reading last week about working out issues in community. So Peter asks how many times he must forgive a brother or sister. Jesus tells a parable that could be about much more than just forgiving slights or injuries. Money serves as the basis for the lesson of the parable.

Continue reading “Debt or gift”

Love and the law

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost; 6 September 2020; Proper 18A (RCL); Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20.

Psalm 149 starts out so well — Hallelujah! Sing to the Lord a new song!
And it ends so vindictively — Let the praises of God be in their throat, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to wreak vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples. What a contrast to Paul’s word to the Romans — love is the fulfilling of the law.

Continue reading “Love and the law”