September 24: The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for September 24, 2023 was preached in response to Matthew 20:1-16 based on the notes below.
  1. Aren’t we Jonah? “That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” Or is it just the first borns in the room that would rather leave than see people be shown grace?
  2. This sets the stage for our gospel text, which also makes those of us who have certain ideals of justice and (self) righteousness at the fronts of our mind mad. We did it right the first time, like the workers who were recruited first thing in the morning. 
  3.  Teaching block in Matthew. Has predicted death, is teaching crowds and disciples. Reiterating that there’s always a chance. Ended direction to Peter with “So the last will be first, and the first will be last,” too.
  4. We don’t like grace. It’s unsettling, out of our control, can’t work for it.
  5. Sometimes called a cop out for not doing the work, but that’s not quite right. Rather it’s God knowing that we’ll never get it all right particularly as we’re in connected systems.
  6. God makes provision in Jesus for restoration, for the fullness of life. The workers who resisted all day long still have their fill at the end of the day.
  7. One layer to this is salvation, living like Jesus. Parables have lots of layers, though, not just one reading. Another is for how we are to try to live like Jesus. We don’t like grace, and forgiveness is hard. 
  8. Lord’s Prayer —> applies here too. Open to reconciliation to rebuilt relationships. Will fail, and we get to try again too.
  9. God’s love. “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” like God says in Jonah. There’s more than enough for us and for us to share. 
  10. More than enough for us to know, and to invite others to know as well. 

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