There are no lines in the kingdom of heaven. – Faith Presbyterian Church

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We have been fine till the verify-in line in Athens. As element of my sabbatical in 2017, my daughters and I hiked in Greece for six weeks. The trip was a generous blessing and we have been remarkably no cost of disasters and grumbling till we have been prepared to fly property.

We stood in line at the Athens airport for a single of these self-serve kiosks exactly where you verify your luggage and print your boarding passes. The girls every got 3 boarding passes – Athens to Milan, Milan to Toronto, Toronto to the States. I got two – Athens to Milan, Toronto to the States. I went to the airline counter, and the agent gave me a single of these ordinarily Mideastern/Mediterranean shrugs. “{Shrug} Get your boarding pass in Milan,” she told me.

On the plane, I asked the attendant exactly where I should really go when I got to Milan. “Why didn’t you print your boarding pass in Athens?” she asked. “You’ll have to have your boarding pass to get by way of customs. {Shrug} Go to the ticket counter”.

Except there was no a single at the ticket counter or the subsequent or the subsequent. When there ultimately was… “Why didn’t you print your boarding pass in Athens? You will have to have a boarding pass to get by way of customs. {Shrug} Attempt down there.”

As we ricocheted by way of the Milan airport searching for assistance, what had seemed like a lavish two-hour layover was ticking away as, till we had walked all the way to the customs line. It was a line of persons snaking back to front, shoulder to shoulder filling a space the size of this sanctuary. All of them have been gradually passing – or not passing – by way of a single point of entry.

There have been persons from everywhere in that line – Saudi Arabian females in burqas, young persons from Central America, persons applying walkers and babies in strollers. And all of us have been clutching in our hands what would get us by way of the line – our passports, papers, and boarding passes.

A guard at the starting of the line – or was it the finish – wouldn’t let me into the line without having a boarding pass. I told the girls to preserve moving. I’d catch up.

Then, frankly, I was brought on a scene, till “{Shrug} and the guard led me to a significant tv screen, pressed some buttons and I was speaking to an Italian airport issue solver who spoke English. Her assessment was “You are about to miss your flight. “{Shrug} Go back to customs line.”

When I went back to the customs line, the girls have been about exactly where I had left them.

How could that occur? They had gotten to the front of the line, didn’t want to go by way of without having me- sort daughters – so they began more than. At the finish of the line. Or the starting.

Now there have been Pakistanis in turbans, couples clearly newly in like or newly married, chic searching French experts, Asian households with numerous generations traveling with each other, an old lady in a wheelchair, and toddlers getting meltdowns. All with passports, papers, and boarding passes. My hands felt alarmingly empty.

At the entry point, a man behind bulletproof glass glanced at the girls, their boarding passes, stamped their passports and they have been by way of. Then, “Where your boarding pass? Why you not get it in Athens? You cannot go by way of customs without having a boarding pass.” Then, {Shrug}, he stamped my passport and waved me by way of.

Jesus tells a parable. It includes a landowner who cares as tiny for guidelines and as substantially for persons as a reckless, generous, rule-breaking Italian customs official. Workers line up, and the landowner hires at the starting of the day and all through the day and at the finish of the day. When evening comes, the landowner has absolutely everyone line up from the initial to the final, or was that the final to the initial? In any case, workers line up, and absolutely everyone gets the identical quantity of spend place into their sweaty, dirty, scratched up hands.

It does not appear fair, does it?

It reminds us of a student who shows up only for the final day of class and receives an “A.” It reminds us of a new employee who operates for only a single year and receives complete retirement. It reminds us of an individual who does not have their paperwork in order and but gets to cross the border. It reminds of persons who reduce the line. It reminds us of persons who do not get what they deserve.

We should admit that this parable is irritating if not offensive to quite a few of us. Most of us have difficulty managing our envy and covetousness about other human and earthly factors.

From a single finish of the spectrum, we wonder how it is that some persons start with so substantially, earn so substantially, or preserve so substantially. How some persons get very good grades, excel at function, locate wonderful buddies and foster wholesome relationships. Perhaps if we’d been handed all the things on a silver platter, we’d be up there at the head of the line, as well.

Oddly, when we appear from the other finish of the spectrum, we are most likely to be just as begrudging. We see persons who consume and drink what they want, reduce corners, reduce classes, modify spouses and careers. They didn’t remain inside the lines, and but their hands are complete of very good factors.

Then we don’t forget that Jesus didn’t say this was a parable about human factors – about funds, or grades, or financial systems or even labor negotiations.

Jesus stated, “The kingdom of heaven is like this landowner…” When we translate this parable to be an illustration about heavenly factors and see Jesus’ image of our God – reckless, generous, rule-breaking – well…it nevertheless does not appear fair.

You show up for worship. You serve on committees. You give of your difficult-earned revenue. You care about our neighborhood. You take meals to persons who have to have it. And but an individual can come along late in the day or late in life and obtain God’s grace just the identical as you? Somebody could have lived a terrible, corrupt, degenerate life and at the finish open their hands to obtain God’s forgiveness as completely as you?

Like the early hires in the parable, we have a tendency to grumble. Numerous of us have difficulty celebrating the very good factors other persons obtain – even when they are very good factors from God. One more pastor quips: No a single sings, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saves a wretch like you.”

Do you want grace? Get in line. We have been right here initial. We deserve a tiny bit additional.

To all of that, prior to all that line forming, line shoving, line assessing, inspecting what is in other people’s hands, Jesus gives a landowner who say, “{Shrug}. Am I not permitted to do what I decide on with what belongs to me? Or are you envious due to the fact I am generous?” Jesus’ landowner really utilizes a Mideastern/Mediterranean idiom: “Do you have the evil eye due to the fact I am generous?” The evil eye was – and nevertheless is – really serious company in that culture. An evil eye falls upon an individual, and they are not totally accountable for their behavior. If an “evil eye” has struck the persons with jealousy, it is not totally their fault.

So, even when they grumble, the landowner is getting generous to these at the finish – or was it the starting – of the line.

“{Shrug}” shrugs the landowner, of Jesus’ story, “I can be generous with what is mine. Who are you to query? I spot in your hands what I decide on to give you. I spot in the hands of other individuals what I decide on to give. This is my vineyard, and I can be reckless, generous and break the guidelines.”

When we passed by way of customs, we have been no cost but fearful. There have been significantly less than 10 minutes prior to our flight was to take off and my hand was nevertheless empty.

More than the intercom, I heard my name “Signora Lohrenz. Lohrenz”. At the gate, an agent place into my hands a boarding pass, as if it have been mine all along.

My daughters and I walked onto the plane and took our spot amongst persons from all more than the earth, various nationalities, speaking quite a few tongues, across the age and capacity spectrum. We have been for ten hours a tiny neighborhood of persons who had all the things we necessary, regardless of whether we deserved it or not.

Jesus tells a parable. Jesus invites us to step into the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is like a vineyard, like an international air flight, like a sanctuary. There are no lines in the kingdom of heaven. There is only a neighborhood. It is a neighborhood of persons who have received – not what we deserve – but what a reckless, generous, rule-breaking God chooses to present. We are handed the identical wonderful abundance. Grace. Boundless grace. Mercy. Endless mercy. Goal. Wonderful goal. Life. Abundant life.

Jesus invites us to really feel the weight of all the generous goodness God has poured into our hands, our hearts, our lives.

Jesus invites us to appear about – from wherever we are – and see these with whom we travel, see all persons getting into their hands what our generous God chooses to give.

We may well say, “God has been generous with me, and God has generous with you. {Shrug} There is no line in the kingdom of heaven. Welcome to the neighborhood of these who do not get what they deserve.”

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