I know, I know . . . I even say it in the sermon, we really aren’t “allowed” to be annoyed or irritated by stories in the Bible. But c’mon, the story about the landowner with the vineyard and his HR practices can be really annoying.
There is something in Jesus’ story in Matthew 20 (verses 1-16 to be exact) that grates on a lot of us. It seems fundamentally unfair and maybe even capricious. So what do we do with it?
It is always tempting when a Lectionary selection poses a difficulty to simply skip it. There are always three other Scripture options and some weeks even more. This week there was the Old Testament story about manna and in the New Testament there was Paul saying “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Rich stuff and in some ways easier to preach on . . . but I didn’t. Why?
Over the years I have found it very helpful to pay attention to the various ways the Holy Spirit directs me to the best Scripture passage for a particular Sunday. Needless to say I don’t always get it right but when I notice which part of the Lectionary keeps popping into my mind or which part intrigues me the most or which part I do not want to preach on, sometimes those are indications on what I need to say and to hear.
So, if this story has always bothered you for some reason, perhaps it offends the Protestant work ethic in you or your innate sense of fairness, I hope this sermon helps you in some way.