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We the people of Glen Rhodes United Church, are determined that our life together will be fully inclusive for people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, differing abilities, ethnic origins and economic circumstances. Therefore, we hope that God will work in us so that we will be a sensitive congregation, willing to share our faith and gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community, with compassion, fun and laughter

Monday, 17 June 2013

Vineyard envy and extravagant love   June 16 2013   by Rev. Malcolm Spencer

4th after Pentecost

Today many things come into view; it is the week of attention to first nations the Aboriginal people who preceded other Canadians by 1000’s of years. And it is Father’s day and that needs to go beyond the router, tie and dinner out. And we have these amazing scriptures that talk about the greed associated with power and the giving of lavish love.

A lot of power is given to political leaders and large corporations, they have the right seize lands and often to dispossess people. This Elijah story of the vineyard of Naboth tells of a warring King wanting a subjects vineyard. Ahab was at his wits end because as king Naboth refused to sell him his vineyard. This is a classic fight – powerful influents verses a single person who understood the importance of his patrimony his inherited rights to the land- that might mean also the right for the wine produced. Land ownership was important to the people because they had entered the land of Canaan for land to be independent farmers some the king the head of state should have understood because he had fought for the lands against attacks from outside and inside. But he felt as king he had the right to get what he wanted much like many companies today who take land from people for mining and other projects. Naboth died to protect the rights to the land of his ancestors so Elijah comes to Ahab full of anger over this  breach in his responsibility to protect his subjects and really tells Ahab and Jezebel that they have insulted heaven with this action of killing Naboth and they will end their life in violence.  Ahab does become penitent over this threat of the prophet but the die is cast Isreal’s kings are slowly entering decline and eventually they will lose to Babylon.

Aboriginal people have experienced much of this attitude over the years shoved off their lands for economic development for others. The first church I served in Saskatchewan was to fill in for the minister who had died – this was in the touchwood hills, the original home of Buffy St. Marie, there one of the churches was largely formed of those on the reserve but the non-natives ran the congregation and say in the front of the church. I remembered playing baseball against some of the kids from that area. This only lasted for a couple of months as I had to go to my settled three point charge in southern Saskatchewan.

Sometimes it seems to me little was settled in the settlement of Canada we had settled the country of the first nations and much is left for us to do to repair the broken relationships that we need to seek. The United church is in a long period of repairing our relationship with those in residential schools and those concerned with what is happening now.

The story in Luke of the woman with the Alabaster jar seems like something totally in a different space. Jesus found Simon, a Pharisee, who invited him for food at his home. Pharisees were more open to meet teachers and prophets but often liked the debate on issues for the faith. Here a woman comes and anoints Jesus and sensually uses her hair to dry his feet. She offered Ointment for healing and for the recognition of Jesus.. Ahab could have called Naboth and said I congratulate you for holding on to your vineyard and could had ordered a feast to celebrate his faithful stewardship.

In this story we hear Jesus’s appreciation for extravagant love which goes beyond the rights of the law or the any civil code or even relationships of power. It points to the power of faith to free folk to a new way of relationship. One that seeks solidarity with others, the welfare of others. Sitting in a Tim Horton’s the other day I watched the lineup of those lucky people that got the chance to spend $40 on coffee and then could get a coffee maker that makes these single cup units for free.

These are often advertised as opportunities to have a single grand cup at home not at the local deli – now I am not saying this machine is not good it is useful in offices where one is waiting and so one. But it is a sign of our society where our pleasure is alone or nearly alone not in community or solidarity.  Extravagant love is not ridiculous or unreal it is possible in many situations. As Jesus reminded Simon the role of the host is to care for the guest and to remember that forgiveness is the key to reconciliation in relationships. And this is the way for all aspects of our social life not only in personal relationships.

Let us cheer on our first nations as they reawaken that generous spirit of understanding the world. Let us cheer those who show love instead of resentment Joy instead of anger and remember above all that this  extravagant love is the love of God for all of us and we too are shown love and thought of in terms of love.

Fathers can set this tone in the family as well as mothers as we know many children need their fathers love and attention and help us to learn many lessons in life.
Father’s day may be a day to thank Dad or remember Dad but it is time to see the role of men as those who welcome extravagant love as Jesus told Simon and in this way lives change and communities flourish.

Let us cheer on the variety of men who take on parenting and grand parenting.

The end of hymn 589 by Brian Wren gets a close to the aim of this love
We tell our varied memories
Assembled in our global room
That Christ can wash our histories
As threads for Love’s eternal loom

Prayer
Loving and God we pray for the ways of a love that makes us more fully human and caring. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Saviour Amen

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