The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 20, 2020

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Emmaus, PA

Reflections on The Season of Pentecost

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 20, 2020

By Rev. Jane Bender

Dear St. Margaret’s Family,

Greetings to each of you as we continue our journey through this season of Pentecost in this unusual time of pandemic.

This week’s Gospel from Matthew reading is perhaps one of the most challenging stories of all Jesus’ teachings.  Every time I encounter this narrative, even as familiar as it is, I am astounded by the myriad of emotions it invokes! We are familiar with the story of the vineyard owner hiring day laborers – some in the beginning of the day – some at noon – and some late afternoon.  And, at the end of the day, giving each of them the same wage!  It seems to so unjust!  Not fair!

Yet, this time upon reading this parable, I am going to stop my whining for a moment and look to a deeper truth that has stirred in me for years – but, now somehow has come to the forefront of my understanding.

Now, I identify most closely with the laborers who were hired later in the day.  I, too, have come late to Jesus.  I too come late to Jesus on a daily basis!  How many days do I read the newspaper before I say my prayers?  And yet, God’s generosity and overflowing love never fails.  

God is simply outrageously GENEROUS!  

As the Lutheran biblical scholar Karl Jacobson, states: “The scandal of this parable is that we are all equal recipients of God’s gifts. The scandal of our faith is that we are often covetous and jealous when God’s gifts of forgiveness and life are given to other in equal measure.”   

God loves each one of us – EACH one of us – unconditionally and equally. Jesus reveals God’s self over and over in scripture by acts of generosity that defy our imaginations – remember, in particular, the story of the Return of the Prodigal Son. This story also turns the notion of “fairness” upside down!

Our response, rather than envy and jealousy, might ought to be GRATITUDE for the exuberant generosity of God!  And this gratitude, in turn, spurs us on to actions of mercy, works for justice, and pursuing peace in this broken and hurting world.  

May the generosity of God invade our hearts during this unprecedented time of suffering because of the pandemic, the horrific natural disasters, and heartbreaking racial and civic strife.  This gratitude for God’s generosity leads us NOT to complacency.  The gratitude leads to nothing less than renewed energy, by the power of the Spirit, to new life, peace, reconciliation, justice, and forgiveness.  Let us march on convinced of the generosity of God to fuel us!

Please see the News Items (below) for this week for hopeful, exciting news of St. Margaret’s.

God bless you and keep you in God’s loving embrace,


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