Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | September 22, 2017

Lectionary Reflection: The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Blog|Carol James

Jonah 3:10-4:11; Psalm 145:1-8; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

“It’s not fair!” That heart-cry has sprung from the lips of so many children — do you remember saying it yourself? As we grow older, perhaps we grudgingly accept that many things in this world aren’t fair, and aren’t going to be fair, as we understand fairness. Yet surely we can always expect fairness from God?

If God was fair, Jonah reasons, the city of Nineveh would be a smoking ruin. If God was fair, the hearers of Jesus’ parable might think, those who have been working longer would receive greater wages than those who show up at the end of the day. “We played by the rules,” this logic goes. “We deserve something more.”

It’s unsettling to think that God looks past the world of quid pro quo, to a deeper and more surprising abundance. It’s troubling to imagine that the good gifts of our lives aren’t the result of our cleverness or of our deservingness, but something beyond our control and offered freely to all. With that understanding of God’s boundless giving, how do we hold or share the gifts we’re given? What call is uncovered when we quit counting?

Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.

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