Thought for the week - 4 October
So if the parable isn’t really about a vineyard, what is it about? Clearly it is about the People of Israel and focused on the religious leaders. Of course. But it is about more than that, it is about you and me.
Our Collect today gives us the clue. Words are based on some much older words, those of St Augustine
thou hast made us for thyself
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in thee:
We are made by God to be in a relationship with him we are hard wired for that relationship and we have a restlessness when we are not in that relationship.
God creates us, creates each one of us as a vineyard. In each of us he plants himself, the True Vine “I am the vine you are the branches.” Christ is planted in each of us at our Baptism.
He puts a fence round us He sets us in a secure place, a place where we can be safely nurtured and cared for. He sets us in the Church where we can be nurtured, fed by the Word and Sacraments.
He sets a watchtower in the midst. He gives us a viewpoint from where we can see the surrounding countryside. A tower is built, with stairs to the top that we can climb. We have the Church and her teachings so that we can look at the world from that perspective.
Every aspect of the build is for our good.
But so often, like the bad tenants we make bad use of the vineyard God has given us.
We fail to tend the vine within us. The Scriptures & the sacraments are the nutrients provided for us, but we so often neglect to use them. Instead of nourishing the grapes, so that they become fat and juicy, we neglect them so that they become sparse and sour.
The wall, rather than being the shelter for our wellbeing, so often becomes a place solely of retreat, or even worse, a place to hide or worse still again, a barrier to shut out those people we think do not belong.
The tower can so easily become the place where, instead of looking and listening, we use as a place from which to shout, to hurl abuse, to pass our judgement.
So where does that leave us?
The Jews in the story answer from their own perspective. The owner will avenge the death of his son whom he has sent to try to put things right. The God of retribution will come to destroy. Now we have to take that seriously. We cannot assume that we can go on and on in disobedience and that that just doesn’t matter. Nowhere in Scripture or in the teaching of Jesus can we find that sin and continuance in sin is without consequences.
Yet, as we are reminded in in Scripture, in what used to be called the comfortable words after the Prayerbook confession and absolution:
COME unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.
Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.
Here we have the promise of something truly wonderful. If we, in our ill-tended vineyard recognise that we need again the gardener, that we are willing to change our ways, that we fully and honestly intend to do better, that Gardener will come to us time and time again. That True Gardener whom Mary Magdalene met on the day of Resurrection will be forever at our side.
Well, now, there truly is something to rejoice about with the fruit of the vine! And there is something to climb the tower and shout about is it not!?