I spent the day on Friday reading about the lessons for today, listening to discussions about them, reflecting and meditating on them, and writing notes. Thinking about the various possible ways to approach them. What were the people of Nineveh showing us? What do we need to hear from the parable of the laborers and landowner at this time? Where is the Hope? What is the Invitation?
Then, around 4:30 or so, the phone rang. It was my daughter. She didn’t say anything more than “hello” but I could tell by her breathing that something was wrong. I asked and she said, “Haven’t you heard? Ruth Bader-Ginsberg died.”
I was stunned into silence, although I shouldn’t have been surprised. We knew her health was precarious.
She had called me hoping that would hold back the panic she felt coming on.
So, I just want to take a moment this morning to acknowledge what so many people are feeling and what a loss to this nation is the death of this iconic Supreme Court Justice. And especially to recognize what her death means to many young women and girls.
Let’s just sit with that for a moment.
In a year of so many losses, including many leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, I think hers was something of a tipping point for me. That. On top of a week of choking smoke, raging wildfires, and flooding from Hurricane Sally. It just suddenly felt like too much.
How long, O Lord?
The thing is, we know that God is not going to swoop in and fix it; to make it all go away. Where, then, is our hope?
Are we a bit like the Ninevites, not knowing our right hand from our left? If only it were a matter of changing our clothes and sitting in ashes. But even that wasn’t the whole of it – they repented, turned away from their unrighteous ways and turned to God; a god they didn’t know but who called them to God’s self; called them to repent.
The Good News is that God knows them. God loves and cares for them, even though they do not yet know God.
The Good News is that even in all the disaster of our lives – both natural and of our own making – God is with us. Loves us unfailingly, steadfastly and desires our well-being. God wants only good for us.
In the parable of the landowner and the laborers, we are brought up short by our own understanding of how the world works and the relationship between labor and food. Some of us may identify with the laborers who are waiting all day for a job. They’re in the marketplace willing and available to work and finally at the last hour, they’re hired. They feel grateful to be able to work and that they will be able to feed their families, at least for today.
Others may identify with the ones who are hired first and are paid the usual daily wage that they agreed to at the start, enough to feed their family for the day, but they feel resentful at the end of the day because they aren’t paid more.
Still others may identify with the landowner who sees everything as their own possession and completely under their power. It’s mine, I’ll do what I want.
Probably nearly all of us see some aspect of injustice or lack of “fairness” in this story – because of our own understanding of how the world is supposed to work.
But, in the telling, Jesus opens up a different view of the world; one in which everyone has enough; everyone is given their daily bread.
The Good News is that God shows us a different view of righteousness and justice.
The Good News is that God didn’t stop showing us when we closed the canon of Holy Scripture. God continues to send people to open our eyes to a vision of the world as it could be. People like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and countless others throughout history. And right now.
Transforming lives, one at a time. And so, God transforms the world. That’s where our hope lies. That’s our invitation.
Will we open our eyes to see God’s vision of the world?
Will we open our hearts and minds to embrace it?
Will we work towards it?
Will we live as if it is already fully realized?
The reign of God is at hand – will we reach out and