I am beginning to think I am being followed by the Laborers in the Vineyard.
As you may or may not know, this was the NT passage selected for the exegetical exam on the Presbyterian Ords. So as you can imagine I spent quite a bit of time with the sucker for about 5 days, learning quite a bit about it. Since then the passage has continued to crop up in my midst; its in the books I read, the churches I visit, blogs and more. In fact, I am beginning to think that perhaps the exams were more than providential in choosing that passage. I mean, who knew that I was going to end up saturated in this particular verse? Certainly not the committee that chose it. but there it is (I guess you could make the case I just notice it because it was there…. a convincing argument but I doubt it.)
Anyways, today it cropped up in church. I decided to visit Harvard Memorial Church this morning because Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor was slated to preach. If you don’t know who this woman is, she is an adjunct at columbia theological seminary and butman professor at piedmont college. We were required to read her book, “The Preaching Life,” in my introduction to ministry studies class at HDS. I enjoyed her sermons quite a bit and was therefore inspired to forego my own church for this one.
Leaving aside my experience of how Harvard does church, the texts for the day were…. Jonah ch. 4 and the Laborers. Oh laborers. It was a great sermon, to be sure. It was also interesting to hear the laborers juxtaposed with Jonah’s whining in chapter four. It was a way of looking at the passages and hearing the Jewishness of Matthew that I didn’t expect and certainly hadn’t thought of before. The message was fairly predictable: God’s graciousness is hard to accept, scandalous in its seeming denial of justice and righteousness, etc etc. the focus was on our anger and whether it is right to be angry when good things happen to bad people… which is a good question to ask, I think, and a question that has an easy answer unless it is happening to someone who isn’t you, or you feel wronged by God’s grace to another… which totally happens, I believe, more often than we would like to admit.
Anyways, she was great, her sermon threw me back a month to ords, and the music was beautiful (Harvard has an amazing choir that sings good ole’ hymns 15th-17th century style… pretty awesome to just sit and listen in the midst of it all.)
So yea…. still trying to sort out what the laborers might have to teach me next. I am convinced that they refuse to go away, perhaps in part because I will always have a reason to see myself in them, and I guess I am okay with that. And I don’t mind being reminded in good sermons, that’s for sure.
In other news… lets see. The NY Times is back to running pieces on presidential politics in balance with the economic crisis…. so i am back to feeding my habit. Some really interesting opinion pieces in there today, like here and here and here. I have to say it is hard to NOT read the myriad of polls and opinions out there… but it definitely is pretty awesome to realize the amount of info there is to be read every day.