Sunday's Sermon (Print Copy)

 

"Equal!"

 by Pastor Wayne

September 20, 2020 - 16th Sunday after Pentecost - A

Sermon text: “When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.  Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.  And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’  But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?  Or are you envious because I am generous?’”  – Matthew 20:9-16”

 

Equal.

This is one of the great premises

            on which the foundation of our nation was built.

In creating the “Declaration of Independence,”

      Thomas Jefferson wrote those memorable words:

            “We hold these truths to be self-evident;

                  that all (men) are created equal...”

 

“All (men) are created equal.”

The equality of all people in our nation certainly is a lofty goal.

Everyone should be equal.

 

But in American history that certainly

            has not always been the case for

      black slaves struggling for freedom...

      women struggling for equal rights...

      native American Indians struggling to survive...

      people in poverty struggling for food and shelter...

      new immigrants struggling to be accepted.

For some, America has not given them equality.

 

George Orwell wrote in his book Animal Farm

            about the ills and shortcomings of the Soviet Union:

      “All animals are equal,

            but some animals are more equal than others.” (ch. 10, 1945, Animal Farm)

More equal than others.

In other words, some assumed that they were better than others.

 

Equality of all people is the thrust of our gospel reading for today.

It is the central point in Jesus’ parable:

            “The Workers in the Vineyard.”

The parable is quite simple.

A landowner hired workers for his vineyard.

He hired some workers at nine o’clock in the morning.

He hired others at noon.

And still others at three o’clock.

And even still others at five o’clock.

They all went to work in this man’s vineyard.

 

They got paid at the end of the day.

Those who started work late in the afternoon

            got paid as if they had worked all day.

The other workers got paid the same.

Not surprisingly, those who had worked all day

            complained that they received the same pay

                  as those who had worked but a hour.

They said to the owner of the vineyard:

      ‘These last worked only one hour,

                  and you have made them equal to us

            who have borne the burden of the day

                  and the scorching heat.’ 

Indeed the owner had made all the workers equal.

 

This is what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus said.

The owner of the vineyard represents God.

The workers represent all who follow him.

The work represents the works of discipleship.

And the wages represent all of God’s great gifts.

 

One important lesson we can learn from this parable

      is that “with God, all people are equal.”

 

The world, of course, is fill with inequities.

So much strife and misery in the world today

            is caused by people who do not believe

                  that they are equal to others.

 

In mathematics, there are three basic symbols:

      = “equals”

      > “greater than”

      < “less than”

 

Some people may believe that they are

            “greater than” others.

Perhaps because of their wealth...

            or their education...

            or their physical strength...

            or their accomplishments...

            or their mental abilities...

            or their natural talents.

There are all kinds of “measuring sticks” that people can use

            to insist that they are “greater than” others.

 

Other people may believe that they are “less than” others.

They may believe this

      because of failure in life...

      or because they are poor...

      or because they are outcast...

      or because they are weak...

      or because they are different.

Whatever the reason, they feel that they

            do not measure up to other people.

They feel “less than” others.

 

Both of these attitudes are incorrect.

We are not “greater than” others.

We are not “less than” others.

We are “equal” to others.

With God, all people are equal to one another.

 

What a profound difference it would make in our lives

            if we could embrace the truth of this parable

                  that all people are equal.

We would cease to try to be better than our neighbor,

      after all, with God, we are all equal.

We would be willing to feed the person who is hungry,

      after all, with God, we are all equal.

We wouldn’t worry about what others thought about us,

      after all, with God, we are all equal.

We would no longer feel inferior to others,

      after all, with God, we are all equal.

We would be kind to the poor and downtrodden,

      after all, with God, we are all equal.

We would show compassion and help those in need,

      after all, with God, we are all equal.

 

The old are equal to the young.

The sick are equal to the healthy.

The uneducated are equal to the educated.

The new Christian is equal to the life-long Christian.

The people of color are equal to the white people.

The disabled are equal to the able-bodied.

The females are equal to the males.

The failures are equal to the successful.

The immigrant is equal to the citizen.

The weak are equal to the strong.

The poor are equal to the rich.

 

In the world, there are many inequities,

      but in the Kingdom of God, all people are equal.

The parable of “The Workers in the Vineyard” teaches us

      “in God’s Kingdom, all people are… equal.”

 

      Amen.