by Lilly Lewin
It’s the end of a month and the beginning of a new one this weekend. In my old neck of the woods, Napa Valley California, it’s harvest season. Living in Napa Valley in the middle of a vineyard for four years taught me a lot about wine and even more about why God refers to vineyards and grapevines so often in scripture. I learned how much care goes into a vineyard and how much work goes into making a vine grow good fruit. I learned that they will cut off ” good fruit” during the growing season in order to get the better fruit to grow. That’s been a great metaphor for me. Sometimes I need to say NO to what is a good thing, good fruit, in order to get to do or enjoy the BEST fruit.
Matthew 21:33-46 The Message
33-34 “Here’s another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.
35-37 “The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘they will respect my son.’
38-39 “But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.
40 “Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?”
41 “He’ll kill them—a rotten bunch, and good riddance,” they answered. “Then he’ll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it’s time.”
42-44 Jesus said, “Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles:
The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God’s work; we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!
“This is the way it is with you. God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed.”
45-46 When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.
What is God’s Word for you today?
What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about today?
What do you notice that you haven’t noticed before?
What questions come up for you from this passage?
Where are you today? Are you feeling like the land owner, the tenants, or the ones sent to the vineyard?
Are you protecting the vineyard, are you planting, harvesting, or do you feel like you’d like to tear things down for good or for ill?
Are you feeling rooted or uprooted today? Do you want harvest? Need deeper roots? Talk to Jesus about where you are.
How has Jesus been your cornerstone lately? How can you allow Jesus to be your cornerstone in the weeks ahead?
“There’s a beautiful Jewish midrash that goes like this: Even when God exiles Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, saying to them as they go, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” the three words left ringing in their ears contain a hidden seed of hope, a promise of blessing: “you shall return” (Gen 3:19). Likewise, for all of us, a “change of mind” is always possible; the road back to the vineyard is always open. God’s love and faithfulness are steadfast, as “God with Us” proclaims — and so despite our worries, our quarreling, our testing of God and each other, in the end God will quench our thirst with surprising, living water: refreshment springing up from what looks like nothing but dry rock, resurrection from a tomb in Jerusalem, new life in the valley of the shadow of death.” THE SALT PROJECT
GRAB SOME GRAPES or a GLASS OF WINE TO PRAY WITH TODAY:
Taste and See that the Lord is Good!
Jesus you provide the space, the vineyard to grow good grapes in us. You plant good things FOR each of us, IN each of us!
Jesus you long for relationship! To have us ABIDE in you. You long to help us grow deep roots and produce good fruit.
You put a watch tower and a wall of protection around us so we can grow.
Allow Jesus to dig up the soil and to prune the vine that is you.
To press the fruit and to make NEW WINE.
Remember that GOOD WINE takes time! It’s not rushed, it’s not hurried. It’s nurtured by the wine maker.
Good WINE is ART…it’s flavor, taste, time and place.
TASTE and see that the LORD IS GOOD and you are GOD’S GOOD and PERFECT CREATION!