Your Corner Of The Vineyard

By Ken Woodley

Wars and rumors of wars. Nation rising up against nation. Kingdom against kingdom. Earthquakes and famines.

Jesus certainly isn’t papering over the cracks presented by the reality of the world. But he’s no “doomsday” prophet, either.

It was not then, nor is it now, an easy world to live in with who knows what headline right around the corner.

But Jesus never ever tells his disciples to give up and stop striving to make the kingdom of heaven come just a little bit closer for a few more people. And so he isn’t telling us to do so, either.

The specific advice Jesus gives the disciples in today’s Gospel lesson is “do not be alarmed.”

That is often easier said than done. Certainly for me, anyway, as someone who can make a fine art out of anxiety.

But it becomes less difficult when we follow the example of Jesus and keep plugging away in God’s vineyard, pulling up weeds even though they come back next week.

It is, in fact, good for our peace of mind to keep tending the corner of God’s vineyard that has been entrusted to our care. 

No corner of the vineyard is unimportant. Every inch impacts somebody’s life in some way. 

And so it’s never a waste of time to drop to our knees and cultivate with our bare hands. 

To get dirty. 

Scraped and bruised as we dig out the rocks and plow the soil.

To plant the seeds God has given us for the harvest that only we can produce, a harvest without which something of goodness—a meaningful vintage from the vineyard—would be lost.

No, we aren’t likely to change the world. But there is every chance for something good that might make all the difference in the corner of the vineyard that God has given us.

And when we change a corner of the vineyard we change that part of the world and so the world, itself, is changed after all.

Despite the wars and rumors of wars and the nations and kingdoms and earthquakes and famines.

The most meaningful mountaintop experiences in life often happen—not on some glittering summit—but down in the darkened valleys, where we take the light God has given us and plant it in the vineyard.

Even if we feel alone and vulnerable with only a plowshare in our hands in a world filled with wars and rumors of wars.

In truth, we are never alone when we choose to work in God’s vineyard because the landowner’s son is with us.

The spirit of Jesus by our side. 

No, we won’t see him. We aren’t likely to hear him. But there are moments across the passing days of the flowing seasons where we sense his presence.

A warm feeling in our heart. A gentle ripple through our soul. Perhaps simply an unexpected smile from a stranger.

Jesus there, on his knees, too. 

His hands dirty and bruised. 

His sweat falling into the earth as we lift the heavier stones together, pull up the most stubborn weeds, and gently nurture the vines.

Cultivating more fruits for the kingdom.

Because every corner of the vineyard matters to God.

And Jesus cares about them all.

The vineyard is all around us but we are needed in the corner God has led us to. We are needed to plant not only our seeds in the soil, but ourselves, as well. 

Having faith that somehow, no matter how many people surrounding the vineyard have swords in their hands, our work with the spirit of Jesus by our side will some way, some day, bear fruits of the kingdom that would not have been possible had we kept our backs turned and our hearts headed in the opposite direction.

We may think we haven’t any experience with vineyards and wonder if we shouldn’t let someone with more expertise do the job. But we have far more experience with God’s vineyard than we know.

Because, in truth, there is a corner of God’s vineyard inside each and every one of us.

That place where God’s love and grace first grows fruits of the kingdom before we plant any of their seeds out in the world.

Nothing happens out in the world until it happens first in our hearts. Darkness leans toward the light when our hearts respond to God’s love and grace like a seed responds to rich soil, water and sunshine.

And, Jesus tells us over and over again, that is God’s most fervent wish.

For our own sakes, but also for others, because either the vines of the vineyard within us reach out into the world, or else the choking weeds do.

Wars and rumors of wars? Nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom? It all sounds so terribly depressing. But, crucially, Jesus speaks of these as “but the beginnings of the birth pangs.”

What is actually going to be born into the world—the kingdom of heaven, or something else entirely—very much depends on each of us and what we do in our corner of the vineyard.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Each one of us is a God-carrier.”

If enough swords are turned into plowshares in enough corners of the vineyard then just maybe the nations and kingdoms will eventually join us.

Even if it’s just one person at a time. Starting with you and me.

Perhaps the only earthquake will be a seismic shift in love over hate and the only famine a lack of anything for the world’s darkness to feed upon.

Is the kingdom of heaven really likely to materialize around us as far as the eye can see? On most days, to be honest, I would answer, No.

But, honestly, every single solitary day I would say that it IS worth spending the rest of our lives believing in and working to achieve.

Because, with God, anything is possible.

And our faith in the work God has given each of us to do may be the tipping point that makes all the difference in the world.

All the difference ….. in the world.

By Ken Woodley


Wars and rumors of wars. Nation rising up against nation. Kingdom against kingdom. Earthquakes and famines.

Jesus certainly isn’t papering over the cracks presented by the reality of the world. But he’s no “doomsday” prophet, either.

It was not then, nor is it now, an easy world to live in with who knows what headline right around the corner.

But Jesus never ever tells his disciples to give up and stop striving to make the kingdom of heaven come just a little bit closer for a few more people. And so he isn’t telling us to do so, either.

The specific advice Jesus gives the disciples in today’s Gospel lesson is “do not be alarmed.”

That is often easier said than done. Certainly for me, anyway, as someone who can make a fine art out of anxiety.

But it becomes less difficult when we follow the example of Jesus and keep plugging away in God’s vineyard, pulling up weeds even though they come back next week.

It is, in fact, good for our peace of mind to keep tending the corner of God’s vineyard that has been entrusted to our care.

No corner of the vineyard is unimportant. Every inch impacts somebody’s life in some way.

And so it’s never a waste of time to drop to our knees and cultivate with our bare hands.

To get dirty.

Scraped and bruised as we dig out the rocks and plow the soil.

To plant the seeds God has given us for the harvest that only we can produce, a harvest without which something of goodness—a meaningful vintage from the vineyard—would be lost.

No, we aren’t likely to change the world. But there is every chance for something good that might make all the difference in the corner of the vineyard that God has given us.

And when we change a corner of the vineyard we change that part of the world and so the world, itself, is changed after all.

Despite the wars and rumors of wars and the nations and kingdoms and earthquakes and famines.

The most meaningful mountaintop experiences in life often happen—not on some glittering summit—but down in the darkened valleys, where we take the light God has given us and plant it in the vineyard.
Even if we feel alone and vulnerable with only a plowshare in our hands in a world filled with wars and rumors of wars.

In truth, we are never alone when we choose to work in God’s vineyard because the landowner’s son is with us.

The spirit of Jesus by our side.

No, we won’t see him. We aren’t likely to hear him. But there are moments across the passing days of the flowing seasons where we sense his presence.

A warm feeling in our heart. A gentle ripple through our soul. Perhaps simply an unexpected smile from a stranger.

Jesus there, on his knees, too.

His hands dirty and bruised.

His sweat falling into the earth as we lift the heavier stones together, pull up the most stubborn weeds, and gently nurture the vines.

Cultivating more fruits for the kingdom.

Because every corner of the vineyard matters to God.

And Jesus cares about them all.

The vineyard is all around us but we are needed in the corner God has led us to. We are needed to plant not only our seeds in the soil, but ourselves, as well.

Having faith that somehow, no matter how many people surrounding the vineyard have swords in their hands, our work with the spirit of Jesus by our side will some way, some day, bear fruits of the kingdom that would not have been possible had we kept our backs turned and our hearts headed in the opposite direction.

We may think we haven’t any experience with vineyards and wonder if we shouldn’t let someone with more expertise do the job. But we have far more experience with God’s vineyard than we know.

Because, in truth, there is a corner of God’s vineyard inside each and every one of us.

That place where God’s love and grace first grows fruits of the kingdom before we plant any of their seeds out in the world.

Nothing happens out in the world until it happens first in our hearts. Darkness leans toward the light when our hearts respond to God’s love and grace like a seed responds to rich soil, water and sunshine.

And, Jesus tells us over and over again, that is God’s most fervent wish.

For our own sakes, but also for others, because either the vines of the vineyard within us reach out into the world, or else the choking weeds do.

Wars and rumors of wars? Nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom? It all sounds so terribly depressing. But, crucially, Jesus speaks of these as “but the beginnings of the birth pangs.”

What is actually going to be born into the world—the kingdom of heaven, or something else entirely—very much depends on each of us and what we do in our corner of the vineyard.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Each one of us is a God-carrier.”

If enough swords are turned into plowshares in enough corners of the vineyard then just maybe the nations and kingdoms will eventually join us.

Even if it’s just one person at a time. Starting with you and me.

Perhaps the only earthquake will be a seismic shift in love over hate and the only famine a lack of anything for the world’s darkness to feed upon.

Is the kingdom of heaven really likely to materialize around us as far as the eye can see? On most days, to be honest, I would answer, No.

But, honestly, every single solitary day I would say that it IS worth spending the rest of our lives believing in and working to achieve.

Because, with God, anything is possible.

And our faith in the work God has given each of us to do may be the tipping point that makes all the difference in the world.

All the difference ….. in the world.















6 thoughts on “Your Corner Of The Vineyard

  1. Thank you Mr Woodley for this powerful message. I intend to read it to our prayer group. They will be encouraged as well. You have narrowed down a massive challenge into a manageable and fruitful endeavor to further the Kingdom. We all can manage our little corner with Jesus at our side. God bless you and may He continue to use your gift to bless others. Pauline Hayward

    Like

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