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16 Pentecost - Jonah 3:10—4:10; Matthew 20:1-16

It's been several hundred years now, and times have changed, so we're probably due to update the Lord's Prayer.

Here's a rough draft:

Father God, you hang out in heaven.

Your name is holy because you are different, special, set apart, which is cool, but it also means that you're kind of out of touch.

So my kingdom come, my will be done, in heaven so it will be on earth.

Give me more, now: more than I have, more than other people, because I deserve it.

Overlook my mistakes, which are minor compared to others, but make sure everyone who has wronged me gets the punishment they deserve.

Lead us not into socialism, but deliver us from equality, and discomfort, and unfairness that benefits others or costs me, until the money and the power and the glory are mine, forever and ever. Amen

It needs work, but it feels more honest.

Maybe we would pray like this out loud in church, and not just under our breath, if Jesus

had asked the disciples to teach him how to pray.

They could have educated him on how the world works before Rome did.

Instead, they (and we) are the students and Jesus is the teacher, and we have a lot to

learn, and a lot to un-learn, for the kingdom of heaven is a different vineyard altogether.

Jesus detonates this parable after a lengthy buildup, exploding minds at which he has been chipping away for two chapters.

It started when the disciples asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" because sports talk radio had not yet been invented to obsess over this.

We always want to know who stands where in the pecking order about which Jesus seems so

weirdly not to care, especially with his nonstop nonsense about how The Messiah has to

suffer and die.

So Jesus takes an unemployed, unaccomplished, snot-nosed toddler in his arms and says, Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Their eyes got big, as eyes do when faced with something they aren't ready to see.

If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away, Jesus said, but he was

getting started.

He told a story about an idiot shepherd chasing one lost sheep, then outrageous forgiveness, then divorce and eunuchs and blessing more children the disciples tried to shoo away before scaring off a hard working, rich, religious, ideal church member and muttering about how impossible it is for wealthy people to enter the kingdom of heaven.

With the ground shifting so fast, Peter still continues to jockey for position:

Look, we have left everything and followed you.

What then will we have?

What's in it for us?

You'll get paid, Jesus says, but you might not like it.

There will be thrones and authority, kingdom and power and glory, hundredfold rewards, eternal life and all that, because the extravagantly generous vineyard owner who called you when no one else would will do you right.

The only thing you have to fear is the danger in your eyes.

When you see who else gets rewarded what, it won't satisfy your lust for status or need

to know who's the greatest, because the pecking order to which you are so addicted will

be eliminated entirely.

First and last will blend into each other as every kid gets a participation trophy.

Don't you hate that?