(Adults, the Gospel reading this week is a parable that I would not choose to share with 3-6 year olds who are not concerned with labour and daily wages! However, if we look carefully, I think we can find the face of God that the 3-6 year old responds to. You could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells his disciples another parable about the Kingdom of God. He spends so much time talking about the Kingdom of God! Jesus must really want us to know what it is like. This time, he does not say it is like a teeny-tiny mustard seed or like a very precious pearl, but instead he says,
the kingdom of God is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.
In this parable, there is a person called a "landowner," who has a vineyard where he grows grapes. There is a lot of work to be done in a vineyard to keep the grapevines healthy and to pick the grapes when they are ripe.
Over and over, all day long, the landowner goes out looking for people to work. Each time he finds more people, and each time those people say, yes, they will work for him. We have to consider, why do they want to work?
Everyone needs to work. It is important. Something inside us wants so much to work. It makes us feel good to do a job well. Adults work so that they can have money to buy food and clothes and a home for their families. Animals work, too. Bees work to make honey. Squirrels work to find nuts to store away for the winter. What work do sheep do? And I wonder, what is the work of the sheep of the Good Shepherd?
Children work, too. You might think of chores that your parents ask you to do, like cleaning up your toys, putting away your shoes, or helping to set the table. What about when you play? Did you know that your play is your work, too? When you play, you are working things out, you are discovering things that God wants you to know. You are learning. This is the work of the child. It is very important.
Jesus says the kingdom of God is like this landowner who goes out to find people to work in the vineyard. The landowner never gets tired of looking for more people who need work. He keeps going out, finding more people, and bringing them into his vineyard with the others. He gives them work. I wonder, who could this landowner be like?
We remember that we need to work. It is important to us. We can notice, then, that when the landowner gives the people work, he gives them what they need. This might remind us of that very special prayer in the Bible:
What else does the landowner give them? He brings people together into the vineyard. All the people together with him. Would any of them be lonely?
And we notice what the landowner calls them.
Jesus says this is what the kingdom of God is like. Who is this landowner who gives people what they need, brings them together, and calls them friend?
After listening to this parable, we could begin our prayer:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
Thank-you God for..."
What will you thank God for today?