September 18, 2020
Dear Lake B Friends and Family,
This week I'd like to share a reflection on this week's Gospel Lectionary Reading. It was written by Pat Thompson for the weekly Street Psalms Publication called "Word From Below". I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Lectionary Gospel Reading
Parable of the Landowner and Workers
"Whenever I read the parable of the landowner and the day laborers, my mind will often drift to the day labor center that used to be in my community at the corner of Delridge and Roxbury. I would drive by and see people, mostly men, waiting outside in the parking lot, rain or shine, for an opportunity to work. My nephew told me once that he went the route of working through a day labor company and that it was a pretty hard gig. He said that sometimes people would wait all day for work that wouldn't come or maybe, work would come but not for everyone who was there. Ironically, the people who seemed to need work the most, often waited the longest because they might be older in age or seemingly physically challenged and there was a snap judgment, on the part of the would-be employer, about their capabilities to do the work. Another possible barrier might be something negative on their background check causing the contractor to shy away from hiring that person.
This parable leaves me with more questions than answers. If I'm being honest, I'm not always comfortable about what happens at end of shift when all of the workers are the same compensation. This landowner goes to his community's Delridge and Roxbury four times that day and the last time he asks the men who are there," 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?" They answer, "Because no one has hired us." to which he responds, "You also go and work in my vineyard." Does he do any due diligence on these men? Are they able to do the job? What about their background check? Is there a criminal record? Or maybe a challenge with their green card or other questions regarding their immigration status? Tell me, is there more to why no one has hired them? I think, at the very least I would ask that before I took them back to my vineyard much less pay them the same as the workers I had already hired.
What also happens whenever I read this parable, is I find myself changing my point of view more than I do in almost any other parable that Jesus tells. All during one reading, I will picture myself as landowner, then I am a worker who was hired at 9, then I'm the workers employed noon and so on. "What do I feel when he gets paid as much as I do but I have been here all day?" Or "What do I feel when I am paid as much as he is but I haven't been here all day?" I can be the bookkeeper for the vineyard, "Do I just chalk this up to the land owner's proclivity for throwing a wrench into my day? Maybe I should look for a job with a boss who is more predictable." I even imagine myself as family to the landowner, "Why does he do this? I have to live here, too! What kind of stir will this cause when I head into town? Will I have to listen to people question his motives while I am at the market? Why can't he be a team player and do what the other landowners do?" Of course, the land owner's response is more than adequate, "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?" Ahhh. Exhale.
I understand that this parable speaks to the ultimate who's in and who's out when it comes to the kingdom, as in, the "kingdom in the hereafter" kingdom. Latecomers to the cross are as welcome as those who have been following Jesus from day one. And that is indeed good news!! Might we also, though, find an opportunity to discover and build kingdom, as in, "kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" kingdom?
These are troublesome times and while the unemployment rate in this country soars and we can see the hope in the eyes of our neighbors diminish, how might we take on the attitude, the ethic, the heart of this landowner? Maybe he kept going back to "Delridge and Roxbury" because he saw his neighbors there and he knows what the kingdom is like. The kingdom is like a vineyard where people who are feeling alone, desperate for work, and wait all day to be seen find their place, their purpose and their people.
Dear Beloved Lake B Seniors,
We want you to know that in this very unusual season, we hold you closely in our hearts and prayers. We are grateful for regular updates about you from Adelle Comfort and Lori Wright and appreciate their commitment to pouring love into your lives.
Sue Kesler, a member at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church, has expressed interest in sending weekly Scripture devotionals to you. Her self-introduction and first devotional is included here. Sue has extensive Bible training and church leadership roles, and has been a speaker at churches in Burien. We are grateful for her desire to serve.
You will be receiving these devotionals each week with Pastor Lina’s letter to the congregation. It is our deepest hope that these words and reflections from Sue will provide you with more encouragement in your walk with God. She is following the Gospel readings each week provided by the Revised Common Lectionary. If after a few weeks, you wish to discontinue receiving these devotionals, please contact the church office and let us know.
You are infinitely treasured and seen by God, and we miss seeing you in person!
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Lina Thompson
Susan Lane, Elder of Christian Education & Discipleship
Lake Burien Presbyterian Church