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Saturday, May 03, 2014


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We are halfway through the week. As we read in the Gospel today during Morning Prayer, things are getting tense for Jesus.

On Monday after Palm Sunday, he went to the Temple, chasing the commercial vendors out of the Temple precincts.

On Tuesday, Jesus was teaching again. Unsurprisingly, the parables proved problematic for the theologians and professors of his day.

Today, Wednesday, Jesus offers his longest and final parable in the Gospel of Mark. His teaching is truth: he tells the story about how God longs for all of us— for you and for me— to be planted in the vineyard. Jesus was sent so all would know that they are welcomed.

MARK 12:1-11
1Then he began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 2When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. 3But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. 5Then he sent another and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. 6He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 7But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 8So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.9What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10Have you not read this scripture: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;11this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'?"

Mark told stories so they could easily be understood. Deciphering the allegories of this particularly narrative is relatively simple: God is the vineyard owner; the tenants are the present religious leaders; the beloved Son is Jesus; and the earlier servants are the prophets, including (probably) John the Baptist. Framing the passion narrative, this narrative ultimately explains: why God sent Jesus and the prophets before him: [an invite us to turn around, to work toward justice and peace]; what will happen to Jesus [to be falsely accused and to be put on death row for a crime he didn’t do]; who will bring this evil about [pastors—respected clergy who pound pulpits on Sundays]; and what the failure of this last chance to repent will mean [to remain hateful will only prevent the presence of God to be noticed by our neighbors].

Jesus was hospitable.

Perhaps, too hospitable for some.

The shadow of the cross is growing larger by the day.

Thursday will come and we’ll say, “Not just my feet, but my head as well.”

Then, it will be Friday. Do I need to say anymore about Friday?

 Even so, let’s not rush.

Instead, let’s use this time to attend to the text and listen to the questions it asks of us.

Let us listen to the text, to hear God’s voice calling us to return to the way of Love.

Let us tune into this call to inclusion: a call to rid ourselves of dictating doctrines that determine who is “in” and who is “out.”


Note about the picture: This picture is of the quote in Rev. Bruce Allison's book Links. If you would like a digital version of this beloved classic, please email the church.

Let us hear the text not as one about a God who takes pleasure in drenching tenants with destruction, but rather, gain a glimpse of a God who wants everyone in the vineyard.

May we, as articulated by the Reverend Bruce Allison, come to know on this Wednesday of Holy Week, as we stand in the vineyard and nearing the end of our travels, that “Our deepest joy and our greatest satisfaction comes from what unites us to all people, the love of God for us and for everyone. And it is that, too, which reveals more and more of who we are meant to be.”

Amidst the procession to the gallows of Good Friday, love continues to pave the way. Soon we’ll receive a new commandment. Soon we will be asked, “Whose feet are you going to wash?”

Soon, we’ll be sent to love until the end…

[Adam Quine, First Presbyterian Church of Lincoln]


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