Monday, September 29, 2014

Fruits of the Kingdom

MATTHEW 21:33-46
“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.

you speak in parables to make things plain.
Storytelling is a powerful communicator.

This parable points
to greed, disrespect, and a total disregard for justice.
Why do the tenants beat, kill and stone?
the landowner's slaves (twice) and then the son?
They say it themselves, "let us... get his inheritance..."
Never mind respecting the very life of another human being.
Saying nothing of the issue of justice
that tenants owe the landowner the agreed upon rent (or harvest).

Forgive me, Lord,
my own greed
which hoards what is not mine
by any means necessary.

Instead, transform me into one who
"produces the fruits of the kingdom".

But I wonder, Lord,
what are the "fruits of your kingdom"?
I can quote the fruits of the spirit,
"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"
But what are the "fruits of your kingdom"?

I might assume at first "fruits" means the righteousness of obeying your law,
but you first spoke this parable to "the chief priests and the Pharisees"
They were experts in keeping your law,
and you challenged their righteousness at every turn.

Again I ask: what are the "fruits of your kingdom"?
What do you want to bloom and grow in my life 
that fulfills the beauty of your kingdom?

I'm drawn one phrase of the Lord's Prayer:
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
Give me eyes to see, and ears to hear,
and a community of faith with whom to discern:
What is your will?
What are the "fruits of your kingdom"?

Until then,
restrain my selfish greed, my pride.
Humble me to welcome your servants
and watch for your son,
for I am but a tenant in your vineyard.

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