By Ashley Rector
For almost 15 years, I have spent most of my time with children. First, I spent 7 years as an elementary school teacher. And for the past seven years, I’ve been home with four children of my own. My first thoughts when reading Matthew’s telling of the parable of the landowner made me think of the many times I have heard comments like, “Why did she get more than me?” or “That isn’t fair – I want that, too!” The workers complain and complain that those who started work late in the day are paid the same generous sum as those who put in a full day’s work. I think we can all recall a plaintive child’s voice saying something similar.
Harder, though, is for us adults to acknowledge the envy that might exist in our own hearts when we encounter various “unfair” scenarios in our lives. And yet, God is different. God calls us to give thanks to him and his generosity. God asks that we “make known his deeds among the peoples” that we “rejoice” as we seek God (Psalm 105:3). That we “sing praises” to him (Psalm 105:2) and that we live our life in a “manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:21-30). And the Collect has us prayerfully asking not to be “anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly.”
To me, the clearest message from this parable is that it does not matter when you come to know Jesus and the promise of eternal life, just that you do. God gives generously to us all. I agree…and I also can’t help but think of how the Godly Play curriculum our youngest children use each week asks us to remember that a parable is a precious gift that God gives us. As we unpack a parable it reveals itself in different ways each time we sit with it. Today, as I read this parable several times over, I see also a call to live as much of the life we are with God on this earth in “progress and joy in faith” (Philippians 1:25). This call asks us to share all that we are – ourselves, our talents, our interests, and our wealth – with God. That we might trust that when we give ourselves to God that He will use all that we have in service of Him.
In closing, I wonder if you might reflect on how you find joy and express that joy in your faith. How are you progressing in your faith? Do you identify with the envy that the workers felt? If so, might you see the generosity of God’s work and promise in your life and find ways to express your thanks for that? We are all called to be a blessing and I hope that this season will offer you and me a chance to reflect on that calling.
Ashley's reflection is based on three of this Sunday's readings: Psalm 105, Philippians 1:21-30 and Matthew 20:1-16.
Ashley, her husband, Brett, and their four children have attended Ascension for 6 years. They moved to Dallas from Virginia just before the birth of their first child and are thankful to have found a church home at Ascension. She has enjoyed working in Godly Play classrooms and serving on the Vestry in recent years.