Wednesday, October 19, 2011


    This week Isaiah sings us a song about his “friend’s” vineyard, a song which ends in violence. Jesus tells a similar tale of disappointment and destruction. What insights into God’s “work” do these stories bring us? Isaiah tells us, “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel,” but where are our vineyards? In his book The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck describes our gradual development as persons having boundaries.  At each life crisis or growth opportunity, our boundaries collapse and a new, larger circle emerges, until finally, our “wall” crumbles one last time and we embrace all of creation. There is a reminder in the parable that growth involves looking outward with thankfulness for the blessings we’ve been given and a willingness to invest them in the growth of the kingdom rather than taking the cream of the crop for selfish consumption. If the vineyard is our church, are we looking for ways to make the circle larger until Christ embraces everyone? If the vineyard is our nation, in what ways have we produced “wild grapes”?  Have we been faithful stewards of the resources we’ve been blessed with, or have the fruits of our labors been diverted to unjust purposes? Is it time to take stock of the “grapes of wrath” which have crept into the vineyard? If the vineyard is our personal life, have we been alert for messengers of growth, or are security and the status quo our overriding concerns? If our walls have indeed been knocked down and life as we knew it has come to an end, are we on the lookout for that previously-rejected stone which could be the cornerstone of a new, richer life?  Is Jesus really the cornerstone of our lives?
     The cornerstone to which Jesus alludes is from the great Easter Psalm 118, which is our entrance hymn. As a means of spiritual growth, St. Paul urges us to be thankful in prayer for the beauty of life, and the hymns “Abundant Life,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and “Song of Hope” (“all things bright and beautiful you are”) are all meditations on that idea.  God’s relentless quest for justice is expressed in “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” and “Blessed Be Your Name.” the hymn “Jesus Calls Us” invites us to think about how the church can be a fruitful vineyard.