Sermons 2008

Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 20A 2008                  Matthew 20:1-16

A young boy found a magic lantern.  When he rubbed it a "Genie" granted him three wishes.  The first wish was that his stern stepfather disappear.  His wish came true at once.  After the stepfather was gone, the boy remembered the stepfather's good qualities.   So he asked the Genie to bring the stepfather back, and his wish was granted. 

Now he had one wish left.  He fretted and agonized and worried about that third wish.  He was determined not to make another mistake, since he could not correct it.  He couldn't decide on immortality or wealth or power or money or anything.  Finally, in desperation, he cried out, "Someone tell me what to ask for!"  And he heard a voice answer: "Ask to be content, no matter what you get."

Be content!  There is a sense in which that is the underlying message of the Gospels.  Deep down at the center of all of us, there is the longing for wholeness of life: to be complete persons; to have peace of mind and soul; to be free of anxiety and frustration.   My peace," Jesus says,  is no ordinary, worldly peace.  The peace the world offers is only a temporary lull between conflicts.  Jesus' peace is "Shalom," absolute peace.

 A young college woman was not happy with the young men who tried to date her.  After listening to her complaints, her roommate offered to arrange a blind date:  "Would you prefer a Southern boy or a Northern boy?"

"What's the difference?” asked  Linda.  Her roommate replied, "Southern boys are more romantic.  They will take you walking in the moonlight and whisper sweet nothings in your ear.  Northern boys are more active. They like to go places and do exciting things." 

Linda thought and then asked, "Could you please find me a Southern boy from as far North as possible?"

We often try to negotiate with God, like that.   We want to put our own "spin" on life.  And then we discover that we're in a blind alley.   For some, the search for wholeness of life is doing better than our peers:  our good looks or our clothes, or our great houses, or our many toys.   The only genuine source of wholeness of life is the love revealed to us in Jesus Christ.  Material, financial, emotional satisfactions are only temporary; they alone will only let us down.

The mystic Thomas Merton put it this way:  “I know that myself exists and I know that God exists, and the whole business of living is getting the two together.”  Shalom.

In the story of the laborers in today's Gospel Lesson the owner of the vineyard hires field workers at different times in the day.  At the end of the day, he pays those who came later the same wage as those who worked all day.  So the first workers complain:  "You have treated them the same as us."  To which the owner replies, "Why be envious because I am generous?" Jesus then concludes the parable,  "Thus the last will be first and the first last." (Mt 20:16).

For many children in school, gym is their least favorite class.  Often what makes gym class even worse is the time to pick teams.  The gym teacher selects two students to be captains.  They take turns choosing who they want on their team.  And while teams are being picked, your entire sense of self-worth and dignity is threatened.  If you are one of the first drafted, your ego gets a boost and you feel special.  But if you are last, you know no one wanted you on their team. 

Yet in this parable Jesus turned all that kind of thinking upside down.   What Jesus was saying was that whether we are first or last or somewhere in between, God loves us all just the same.  But this parable rubs us the wrong way.  We don't mind it if we get something that maybe we didn't deserve. But when someone else gets something that they don't deserve, we're ready to object.

            In debates about a minimum wage increase, it was pointed out that raising the minimum wage affects everyone's wages.  Someone making $1 above minimum wage before the increase still wants to be paid more.   That's exactly what happened in the parable.  The workers who had been there all day didn't want to come out even.  They wanted to come out ahead.  Not only were they not content – they were filled with discontent. 

The Quakers tell the story of one of their number who put up a sign on a vacant piece of ground next to his house. The sign read, I WILL GIVE THIS LOT TO ANYONE WHO IS REALLY SATISFIED!

A wealthy farmer saw the sign, and said to the Quaker, "I may as well have the land you are offering because I qualify: I am rich. I have everything I need. I am satisfied."   "Are you really satisfied?" the Quaker asked.

"Yes, I am.  I have everything I need and I am well satisfied," said the rich man.   "My friend," said the Quaker, "if you are satisfied, why do you want my land?"

Be content.  Shalom.  Amen


Drawn from InterNet and print homiletical sources.