Reflection on Sunday’s Reading
This is a parable which has caused quite some trouble over the years. Some have read it as an anti-semitic text and some have claimed that it does show God’s judgement on the Jews.
First Jesus was Jewish – Jewish born and Jewish brought up. Second, the parable is targeted at the leaders, the chief priest and the elders of the people. This is a charge against the leaders of the day who were failing to do God’s will or live and lead as God called them to, not the people as a whole. This is the same sort of challenge as that of the Old Testament prophets, and it is a challenge to us – do we live as those who know we are tenants in this world and tenants of the gospel? This world is not our world to do what we wish with, nor is it our church to have the way we want it. We are servants of God to do his will and live out his gospel. We are called to produce the fruits of the Kingdom – and if we are not doing that, then God will take away our “licence”, will look to find others who will be true to this calling.
The fruit of the Kingdom is love, is justice, is mercy and grace; it is about power exercised for the upliftment and enabling of others, and against what is wrong and hurtful.
So who are we in the parable? Are we the vineyard tenants challenged as to whether we are living for God and honouring Him? And/or are we those who are sent to challenge the arrogant, those who usurp power and claim power, even if it means we might be beaten or evicted? And will we pray for those who take on this prophetic challenge and try and support them, or do we benefit from the lawless ways of the godless? The challenge is to us and for us.
APCM – please look to the website for the nomination forms and for the papers for the APCM which will be posted shortly.
Harvest – October 11th – please bring any offerings for Urban Outreach to St Anne’s or you can leave things in the GrubTub outside the vicarage. We are also asking people to make a donation, if they can, a thank-offering, to the work of Christian Aid, and you can do this online or there will be a plate at the back of the church.
This week we celebrated the feast of St Michael and All Angels.
I don’t know what others think about angels – they are found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, God’s messengers and agents.
The Book of Common Prayer mentions that God has ”ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order” – I like that phrase – wonderful order – as it asks us to acknowledge and enjoy the angelic without trying to organise things too scientifically. If God is living and loving, then God will and does connect with us, and how God does that will be remarkable and mysterious and wonderful.
We may sense the presence of God’s Spirit,
or we may ‘hear’ a voice,
or we may feel uplifted in worship or peace,
or we may feel prompted to do something.
We may find a “God-incidence”, one of those coincidences that seem so providential, or we may feel God has not been there for us for too long.
We should not get too hung up on angels; angels are only messengers of God, but we should pray for God to guide us, help us, deliver us from evil, provide, be with us, and in his mystery and wonder God will be there and sometimes we will sense the angelic nudge.
Sometimes we will look back and see how God was there even when we did not know at the time.
It is of God if it points us to Jesus, and inspires us in the love of neighbour and desire for the Kingdom and justice. If it does not then it may be nice, or it may be a distraction, but it is not of God.
And we should also pray that we can be agents of God’s grace to others, offering love, praying, encouraging, and others will maybe say we were God’s messenger for them on that occasion, and again we may not know it at all.
When the world is being overcome with bleak news then it may be good to reflect on the angels and God’s wonderful presence with us and in our world.
Don’t get fixated about angels and things, but equally don’t write off the spiritual realms and God’s varied ways of encouraging and supporting us. There is a wonderful order, not just an order to how God does things.
Rev’d Peter Reiss: 2nd Oct 2020