Mid Week Devotion 05/06/2020 “Fairness”

Mid Week Devotion 5/06/2020 “Fairness”

GREETING

Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on when you are watching this mid-week version of our online church presentations. I want to extend a greeting to those of who who are joining in today, however you found us, welcome! My name is Pastor Mel, I trust you find this space comforting and refreshing as we continue to journey through life in quarantine. We will be sharing this space until at least the end of May.

PRAYER

Let us turn now for a moment of prayer. You will respond to each prayer request by answering, “Lord, In your mercy, hear our prayer.”

God of glory, we pray for all our leaders, may their decisions and work be guided by your wisdom, and may their actions take into account the well being of all people.

Response: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of creation, you entrusted us with the care of your creation. Help us take our responsibility seriously. We need to seek ways to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources, especially in these days of quarantine.

Response: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of compassion, we lift up to you all those who live in places where this quarantine is felt the hardest. While they wait in hope for relief, may they find peace and refuge in you.

Response: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of love, we ask your loving care for those awaiting a diagnosis, suffering from physical or mental illness or recovering from injury. We pray, also, for their caregivers and families separated due to the quarantine. Give them patience, strength and compassion, as well as time to care for themselves.

Response: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of life, comfort those who grieve. May they be blessed with sweet memories and find true solace in the hope of the life to come.

Response: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of grace, help us come before you with the wonder and innocence of children. Remind us to set aside our pride and vanity and instead be filled with humility.

Response: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We commend all our prayers to you, knowing that you hear all the joys and concerns of our hearts — even the ones we cannot put into words. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lord, be with us as we pray the words which you have given to us;

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth As it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

For ever. Amen.

SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

DEVOTION: “Fairness”

Some states are attempting a return from quarantine. Their governors are reminding residents that precautions need to be obeyed to guard against the spread of COVID-19. Some agree with this decision while others are opposed. Our governor, J.B. Pritzker, has taken the stance that we cannot fully abandon quarantine, yet. So here we are sharing online church until at least May 31.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that a return ‘the way things were’ would not be a smooth transition. Our governor is has faced his first lawsuit from one congressman who believed the governor had overstepped his authority by extending the stay at home order.

Many citizens of Illinois are ready to resume pre-coronavirus status, because they believe the current situation is unfair. There may be more decisions resolved in courtrooms across the country.

Most of us are just siting and waiting, we face boredom, frustration, fear and many other emotions that long term confinement offers. Being bored or frustrated is not sinning. Boredom and frustration can result in sinful behavior; there is that old saying about idle hands. Whatever the results may be, God always gives us time to feel what we feel. The Holy Spirit is available to help guide us through extreme feelings and emotions.

Maybe you are feeling like life is not fair, that neighbors in others states can go out to eat again, while we cannot. Maybe we can see ourselves in the parable today, in the crowd of workers waiting to get paid at the end of the workday and hearing the landowner ask, “Are you envious because I am generous?” We answer, “Yes, you bet we are envious.” This parable is about being envious, we are getting closer to one of the sinful end results of frustration.

The envy in this passage is due to what seems like unfair treatment of some employees who have worked longer and bore the brunt of the noonday sun. This is the mentality of those who are at the front of the line. The first ones who showed up to work that hot day. They are upset with the landowner, the one who hired them. The world has taught them that fairness and justice go hand in hand. “Certainly we deserve some kind of bonus above and beyond those who worked only a few hours.”

Bold talk from people who deserve nothing at all. In this parable, God is the landowner and the first workers are the people who are supposed to feel blessed because of God’s generosity. They cannot see those blessings due to a worldview of justice and fairness. How many times have we seen a pro athlete come our of school, sign a contract, end up playing better than anyone thought, far earlier than anyone thought, then demand a new contract be written.

Being at the front of the line can be a dangerous place. Are you frustrated with the person at the back of the line for creating this situation? Are you angry with the landowner for being generous with those at the back of the line? Maybe, you are angry at yourself. Maybe you are disgusted with yourself because you are just now remembering whose field you are standing in. Not yours, but God’s.

If you want to agree with the rookie phenom who is demanding more money from management because they can hit or throw a ball better than others, that is one thing. Just be very careful when standing in God’s field, receiving God’s blessing and having the nerve to demand more. The land owner has every right to give us exactly what we DO deserve, and I’ll tell you right now, you don’t want that. It would be good if the people remembered the landowner remains just in the midst of being called out for unfairness.

This is a cautionary tale about getting angry over what we think we deserve. Now that Illinois is among the last to reopen, you and I have the opportunity to see things from the back of the line. No matter how long the line is or how long it takes, once it is our turn, the just landowner will be waiting for us.

Don’t forget whose field you are standing in.

May God’s peace be with you until we meet again,

Stay safe and God bless.

KIDS MESSAGE:

Hey kids, are you ready for our mid-week update?

First I have another would you rather question for our weekly Bible Treasure Hunt. This week I ask you would you rather eat a scroll or drink vinegar. I will give you a little help this week. The scroll eating is found in the Old Testament and vinegar story I am thinking about is in the New Testament and it has to do with Jesus. So I want you to go find those stories and decide which one you would rather do.

Our first activity has to do with seeing things we cannot see. (2 Cor 5:7) The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, “Faith is not limited to physical sight.” I want you to practice seeing without seeing. Have an adult find a bunch of small items around the house. Ask them to find 15 different small items and place the items into a dark sack or bag, maybe a pillow case. Without looking, I want you to put your hand into the bag and grab one item. You need to figure out what the items is just by touching, once you make a guess take it out and see if you could see it without looking.

Last Sunday I told you about the shepherds and the sheep pen. One of the jobs of the shepherds was to find lost sheep who wandered away and could not find their way back to the sheep pen. Can you pretend to be a shepherd? Ask an adult to help hide some of your dolls, stuffed animals or other toys all around your house. Your job is to go find them all, wherever they are hiding. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and Jesus knows each one of us very well and never wants us to get lost. So, before they are hidden you need to look at them closely and know exactly what they look like and how many there are. Have fun.

Have fun with these activities and I’ll see you next week.

Prayer – Thank you God for knowing us, loving us and letting us see how much you love us through Jesus. Amen