This past weekend I took a class on Taize prayers, which was amazing. We did 4 Taize services in 2 days, lots of singing, lots of silence. Brad Berglund led the workshop and he's the real thing...an amazing guy. Anyhow, he spoke quite a bit about the Taize community and the brothers there who serve the young people who come to them, and give their personal inheritances to the poor. I left thinking, "wow, I'm kind of a shitty Christian compared to these guys" which brings us to the Gospel reading a few days ago from the daily office. It's the whole workers in the vineyard thing. Basically this landowner hires some laborers to work his fields, he tells them he'll pay them say, $100 for a day's work. Well then at like, noon the guys hires some other dudes and then about 20 minutes before the close of the work day he hires some more guys (or gals, whatever). Here's the kicker: He pays $100 to the original workers who were there all day AND to the ones who only worked since noon, AND to the ones who worked 20 minutes. The ones who worked all day were pissed about this. The boss says "hey I am paying you we agreed on, are you just jealous because I'm generous? Get over yourselves." (revised Nadia translation)
In the profoundly conservative church I was raised in, this passage was always read as meaning that if you "become a Christian" and follow all the silly little rules (no smoking, no dancing, no drinking, no swearing (fuck that!), no having friends who aren't in the church etc...) for 50 years and then die, then if someone "becomes a Christian" on their death bed after having loads of fun their whole life....TOO BAD, that's the ways it goes.
This week I read it differently. I relate so much more with the 20 minute workers. SO I'm not a Christian monastic who prays all day and has no possessions. Maybe they're the all day worker and I'm the 20 minute worker. It doesn't matter. I don't have to be that person to serve God. That's what's so weird and amazing about my life. God has called ME, as flawed and sarcastic and tattooed and foul-mouthed as I am. Yes, sometimes that causes me to question God's judgment, but the fact is that God is gracious to us 20 minute workers. That's the Gospel isn't it? Thank God we don't have to earn God's grace, because frankly, that would be exhausting.
Sometimes you can be a really great boss who pays me a full wage even when I come into work hung over, with a bad attitude 20 minutes before the end of the shift. Thanks for that. Help me to remember that you never leave me as I am, but always transform me in your Work.
In Jesus' name,