We can rename this story to maybe the “Landowners Generosity”, It’s not so much about the workers, it’s about who the landowner is…
Celebrating the Holy Cross Sunday. This is the only other season of the liturgical year where we celebrate the cross more than during Lent.
This is the sermon based on Romans 13:8-14 reading.
What if taking up the cross means something more than the pretty jewelry, the flashy sayings, and impressive displays we build? What if the cross stands as the ultimate symbol and expression of a God who is utterly and entirely for us and comes to the world as Jesus, the fleshy one of God?
Jesus is inviting the disciples into something deeper. He’s inviting the crowds to sit around him and he’s offering them bread and fish- food, sustenance, provision, and love. He’s inviting the disciples into a life of discipleship- he’s teaching them and offering them the true gift of what he’s about. Jesus is offering everyone in this story the gift of compassion. Jesus has compassion on those who are down and out, those who are hungry, those who are in need of something to drink, those who need to be loved, and those whom he already calls to be his followers and to be about his ministry.
What Jesus is leading James, John, the rest of the disciples, and even we ourselves into is a life of downward mobility. In our gospel reading, Jesus does what he does so well and he sets the world on its head. Jesus says greatness isn’t about what you have come to think it means- it isn’t being invited to the party, it isn’t being given the opportunity to sit close to the one in charge, it isn’t having the VIP status. Greatness is what comes out of the kingdom of God. Greatness in the kingdom of God is what Jesus shows as he lives his life.
Today, the question becomes not “What kind of soil are we?” but “What kind of God are we talking about?” We’re talking after all about the seed that is the word of the kingdom of God- this is the stuff of God, the promises and the covenant God makes with us, the full on goodness of the miracles and healings that Jesus is up to.
Dependence, in the biblical sense as Jesus talks about in Matthew, is less about us and more about others. It’s more about God than us, but it’s also more about other people than us too. Dependence means vulnerability- it means getting over our stuff, or recognizing what our stuff is and what pushes us away from God and one another so that we might actually risk being the disciples and the bearers of the good news of God’s free love for the world. We are dependent upon others because as Jesus says this morning, “Whoever welcomes you welcome me and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” This is what it means to be a disciple- to be welcomed by others, and for us to actually risk welcoming others too.
We won’t really discover who we are until we can give ourselves away. Until we can put to death on Good Friday those things that hold us back, and until we can start to claim that new life that is ushered in with Easter Sunday, and when we can lament and mourn the loss but also embrace the new in the Forty Days. Until we can let go and let our problems, our insecurities, our fear, our selfishness, our sin ascend to God and let that bless us; and until we welcome in the Holy Spirit through Pentecost and recognize that God is at work around us, then we will never fully be who God created.
Paul says that we can know God, and we know God because of what we find in Jesus the Christ- the one who healed folks, ate in bars with dirty hands surrounded by prostitutes, liars, and thieves; the one who showed mercy to folks who everyone else judged unworthy.