It’s been a few weeks. I’ve been preaching, all except this last Sunday, but haven’t been doing these. Need to put that discipline back on myself. Here it goes…
This weeks Gospel lesson gets at the question of obedience. We are in a few weeks worth of “vineyard” stories. Last Sunday’s gospel lesson had the story of the workers in the vineyard, the earliest arrivals being upset by receiving the same wage as those who came late in the day. filled in for me, so I didn’t preach at all, and he covered the Jonah story. (Plug for his blog, where he matches his music with a devotion on the lectionary). Next week we have a final story of tenants who refuse to pay the vineyard owner his share of the harvest.
This week we get an interesting lesson. A father tells his two sons to go into the vineyard and work. The first one refuses, but then changes his mind and goes to work. The second one says “Sure” but then doesn’t go. Jesus asks which son did the will of his father, and of course the pharisees answer that the first did.
All of this is in response to the pharisees questioning of Jesus’ authority. But for us it goes to the nature of our relationship with Jesus and the nature of obedience.
What if God asks us to go work in a vineyard? And we say “Sure, God. I’ll go work in the vineyard.” But then we go to the vineyard and have a worship service. Then we eat some cookies and drink some coffee and visit with our friends. Then we sit down and have some bible study before we head off to lunch and then a Sunday afternoon nap. Sound like a plan?
Unfortunately, it does sound like a plan. And we sound a lot like that second son. We want to be disciples of Jesus, we want to do God’s will, but we get confused between being religious and being faithful.
I am not all that sure about the first son. The lesson says he ‘changed his mind and went’. I guess before I commend him, I really ought to think some about what ‘changed his mind’ might mean. What changed his mind? Did he realize that he wanted to do that which was pleasing to his father? Or could it have been a different interest? Did he see a chance to get brownie points by behaving when his brother did not? Back then to the religion as a way to please God and influence thins in your favor. Which is not what faithfulness is about.