Gracefully Unfair

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Codex Aureus Epternacensis, 11th Century

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Codex Aureus Epternacensis, 11th Century

It’s not fair, this may be what I signed up for but it’s not fair
That in this crazy mixed up world of grace the last are first and the first last
Where a person can work from sunup to sundown laboring in the vineyard
Bearing the brutal rays of the sun beating down upon their backs
Getting up early to be the early bird that gets called out into the fields
Being the ant who works all day every day unlike those others
Those others who might look different, party different, act different, smell different
So that they get left behind among the other laborers, for it is about my skills
The sweat of my brow, the skill of my hands, the pain in my back from the harvest
And yet others work less, coming in later, leaving earlier, getting the same recompense
In a world of continually increasing worker productivity and efficiency
What is this inefficient master doing in the distribution of grace
Don’t I deserve more for my labor, for my conscientious and diligent striving
For I could manage the field better than this crazy master and the world would know no rest
For everyone would work as hard as I do or they would never work at all.
Yet maybe in this crazy and gracious world a new and strange master emerges
One who challenges the lords of commerce and time or wage and resource
One who sees the people left behind in the world of competition
Those in the market at 9 o’clock and noon and even at 3 or 5 o’clock
Those who no one sees or cares about, those who no one will hire
Those who wait all day in the hope that they too might enter into the fields
Perhaps in this crazy mixed up world of grace they are seen and valued and fed
They receive the same in some injustly and unfairly gracious manner
And why does my heart grow angry against those for whom the master’s heart breaks
Neil White, 2014
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