This morning we were talking about Grace. During the time with children, Huda got out her library card and reminded the kids how, at no cost to them, they could borrow books and CDs and magazines. Huda reminded them that no matter your age, your gender, your skin colour, no matter how long you've had your library card, the library was available for everyone. And then she told the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 20 of the landowner that hired workers for his vineyard and paid the ones that started in the morning the same wage as the ones that only worked a few hours. Sometimes grace is not fair, she said, but it's loving.
When the Rev. Fred Demaray came to the pulpit, he delved into the Exodus story of the Israelites in the wilderness, and how when they were hungry (and complainy!) God provided quail and mana for them to eat. Wonderfully, even as Rev. Demaray was giving a possible scientific explanation of what created the mana (insect secretions, ew!) and how the quail may have been so easy to catch because of their migrations, it did not decrease how miraculous these miracles were. He spoke about how in the wilderness of change, the Israelites, and we today, prefer the familiar. How "these trying times" soon become "the good ol' days".
Sometimes what God provides is not what we're looking for and our vision can be clouded by fear and a sense of loss. But, if we only stop to see it, God's grace is there and God is providing for our needs. If all we see is pigeon poop and insect droppings, we're missing out on the quails and mana being given to us. If all we see is that the afternoon hiree is getting paid the same as the early-morning worker, we miss out on the joy of having our daily needs met.
When thinking of Grace, we must stop thinking in terms of what is deserved. (Which is a blessing to me, since I'm clearly one of the latecomers to the vineyard, if I were to place myself in the Matthew parable. ) Rev. Demaray finished his sermon saying,
If we're fearful of the future to which God is calling us, if we grumble at grace, we may miss it completely. But if we let it fill us and remake us we too will become the gracious followers of Christ.