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Sunday, January 24, 2016

01242016 Septuagesima Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Church

January 24, 2016
We are God’s Hired Laborers
Have you ever signed a contract?  Whether for a vehicle, combine, tract of land or even your house.  When you sign on the line, you agree to pay the agreed upon price.  It is a document that binds the signatory to pay the agreed upon amount.  When the document is signed, it is the legal binding of all parties involved.  No one can come back and grumble or complain that they should have been paid more.

This morning we have heard the Parable of the Vineyard that Jesus told about a vineyard owner who agreed to pay a denarius.  All the workers, whether hired at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day agree to be paid the same set wage of a denarius.

When the work day is over, the workers gather, the foreman for the vineyard is instructed to pay from the last hired to the first and begins his task paying a denarius as agreed.

However, as each man is paid, the men who have labored the longest and most become jealous.  Their pride for having done the greatest amount of work during the hottest part of the day spurns them to grumble because they feel they deserve more than those who only worked one hour. 

How many of us feel the same way?  Who among us looks at our friends whether at school, the local coffee shop, the John Deere or Case Implement dealership and doesn’t say, life isn’t fair that they drive a new combine, a new pickup, have a new house, vacation in neat places or even have more than I do.  All of us are guilty of this whether we verbalize it or not.

But Jesus tells this parable not to put us down, not to beat us up, not to make us feel bad.  Jesus tells this parable to make a simple point.  In our parable the vineyard owner is our God and Father and He wants you and me to know first, He loves us, second He cares for us, third, what He gives us is pure grace and finally, what He gives each of us is sufficient for us.

You see we are God’s hired laborers.  We have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  We are now because of Jesus Christ being the spotless lamb of God are enfolded into the kingdom of God through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection out of God’s great love for each and every one of us.

Second, God cares for us daily.  As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer to “give us our daily bread”, God will provide for each of us what we need, whether clothes, food, house, home or whatever else.  It may not be extravagant by earthly standard or compared to our friends and neighbors, but what God gives us is a gift of grace that sees beyond our selfish wants for money, fame or fortune and simply shows us that God fulfills our daily needs.

Third God is gracious to us.  With God giving us our needs, this is a fulfillment of grace beyond measure.  When God is gracious, the gift we receive comes because of God’s love and His personally caring for each and every one of us on a daily, hourly, and minute by minute basis.  We receive grace that overflows beyond what we need and this can allow us to share that grace with others.

Fourth, what God gives us is sufficient for the day we are in today.  Just as God gave the people of Israel the manna in the desert when they were on the 40 year journey from Egypt to the promise land.  The manna God gave would not last from one day to the next, because God was trying to teach the Israelite people to trust and rely upon God’s grace daily.  So to God’s grace that we receive is sufficient for us today and every day as well.  When we expect more, demand more and grumble, we then do not fully understand God’s gracious favor upon each and every one of us given to us through His grace which is sufficient for us and fulfills all of our needs.

In the parable this morning, the workers in the vineyard grumbled, some would say justifiably, but clearly, the grace of God cannot and should not be demanded.  God’s gift of grace is a free offering that we receive out of God’s love for us.

For we who gather here today are not just children of God through our baptism.  We are God’s hired laborers to do His work in His Kingdom.  We are God’s hands and feet on the ground in His Kingdom to do His bidding with what we have and what has been entrusted to each and every one of us.

The best explanation of this comes from the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed.  Remember each article deals with a Person of the Holy Trinity.  The Third Article speaks clearly about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Listen to what Martin Luther wrote himself, “I believe I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.  In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

We as God’s hired laborers are called, gathered, enlightened, sanctified (made holy) and kept in the true faith.  God hired us to do His bidding in the Kingdom of God and today we gather, not only to hear the Gospel of God’s love for us, His grace freely given to and for each and every one of us, but today we gather to do the business of the church in our annual meeting.

May we as God’s hired laborers not only embrace God’s gift of grace, but be enabled to use His gifts given to us daily for His glory and in His service as His redeemed children.  For as God’s laborers our payment isn’t with gold or silver, but with our entrance into the Church Triumphant and the eternal reward prepared for us out of His love for us through the gift of grace through His Son Jesus Christ and His offer of grace from the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, including each and every one of us gathered here to be the church of Jesus Christ.  AMEN.
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