First Lesson: Exodus 17: 1-7
Responsive Reading: Psalm 19
Second Lesson: Philippians 3: 4b-14
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 21: 33-46
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
David Dykes tells the following story. Back in the days when the Old West was being settled, Pioneers flocked via wagon across the country to the promised lands of California and Oregon. But on the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains right in the middle of trail lay a large dirt-covered, ugly rock. Many a wagon wheel broke on this rock. Men who walked by it tended to trip over it. The rock appeared to be nothing but an inconvenience, so it was rolled off the road to a nearby stream. For years, it was used a stepping stone so people may cross the creek. Finally, a settler built his cabin near the stream, moved the stone once again and made it into a doorstop.
The years would soon pass. Railroads and towns quickly sprang up nearby. Eventually, the old settler’s grandson started to study geology. The grandson upon visiting the cabin began studying the old, dirty rock. What the grandson found inside in the rock was stunning. Inside the rock, was a gold nugget. The gold nugget was the largest one found east of the Rockies. The stone had been passed over for three generations without anyone recognizing its great worth. Some saw this stone as an annoyance, others as merely a stepping-stone, others as just a big, ugly rock, whereas the Grandson saw the true value of the stone in being one of the most valuable pieces of gold in the world.
Now picture the story of the Grandson discovering Gold and let’s talk about Our Gospel Lesson for Today. Jesus tells a story. A landowner has a vineyard. The vineyard has some of the finest produce around. The landowner lived far away, so he would rent the land to some tenants. The tenants would farm the land and then upon completion of the harvest the tenants were expected to pay the rent.
While a lot of landlords have stories about unruly tenants, these tenants took the cake. To collect the rent, the landowner would send some of his employees to collect. The first employee sent they beat him up. The owner though keeps his cool. He then decides to send a second messenger who the tenants proceed to kill. The owner keeps sending messenger after messenger only to hear of them beaten and killed continually. The owner wants a resolution to the tenant issue, so he sends his son to represent his interests. The owner thinks “They will respect my son.” The owner’s judgment is wrong as they proceed to kill the son then, thinking now they will inherit the land. They believed the way to rent-free property was to kill every representative of the landowner. What’s the landowner eventually to do? He’s going to come with his forces, drive the unruly tenants off the land, and find “new” tenants to farm the landowner’s vineyard.
Breaking down the Parable goes like such. God is the landowner. The vineyard is the Kingdom of God. The tenants are the people of Israel. The messengers are the prophets: Elijah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah and rest. The son is Jesus. So once the Son is dead, God is going to give the “vineyard” to new tenants in Gentiles, Tax Collectors, and Sinners.
Jesus in our parable Today is telling the religious leaders of Israel that the Vineyard they think they possess, will soon belong to someone else. What God is saying to us today is “We are merely leasing the land.” We never want to claim like the unruly tenants “That we actually own the land that belongs to someone else.”
What we are being called to do on this day is manage the Vineyard by reaching out to the people that God places in our care. We are the leaders of the Kingdom of Heaven until someone else replaces us. We are being called to discover Gold within not only our congregation but also our community.
Earlier this week, I was reading a book called Who Broke My Church. Who Broke My Church speaks of there being two different types of churches out there. The first type of church is the preference centered church where people’s ideologies are central. The second type of church is the kingdom-centered church where believers are always looking for new ways to engage in the world around them to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here’s one thing that makes a kingdom-centered church different than a preference-centered church. It has to do with how they understand each other’s gifts. Preference-centered churches tend to ask whether an obligation is something that you have the interest to do. Kingdom-centered churches tend to ask whether an obligation no matter how uncomfortable, maybe a calling of God to advance his kingdom for Jesus’ sake as unlikely as it may be.
Susan was unemployed and forty-seven years old. When she was a child, she was bullied at school for not being very smart; the other kids called her “Susie Simple.” Susan wasn’t a pretty woman never having had a boyfriend. Susan wasn’t a successful woman working merely a few dead-end jobs. Susan’s dream was to be a musical star. At the age of 34, she tries out in a reality show called My Kind of People, the host proceeds to make fun of her appearance while ignoring her singing ability.
The following years of Susan’s life were spent signing at her local Catholic church. Friends and her mother encourage her to try out for one of Britain’s most popular T.V. shows The X Factor. Susan believed such an idea was silly as such shows seemed to showcase the young and beautiful. Susan then loses her biggest supporter and best friend in her mother. Susan stops wanting to sign in public after this until deciding that trying out for Britain’s Best Talent would honor her mother’s memory.
Susan appears on the main stage, proclaiming she wanted to become one of Britain’s most famous singers. Everyone looked Susan up and down, judges and audiences members rolled their eyes upon hearing Susan’s hope. Susan began to sing. The audience's jaws dropped. Within a few moments of her signing, it was quickly evident that despite everyone’s impressions of Susan that she was one of the best singers in the world. Susan Boyle’s debut album became the top-selling debut in United Kingdom history.
Susan’s story reminds us that where we might see failure lays the greatest pieces of hidden gold. Susan’s story reminds us of the gifts to advance God’s Kingdom that might lie deeply hidden inside all of us.
222 players were taken in the 1994 NFL Draft Kurt Warner wasn’t one of them. The Green Bay Packers cut him from training camp. Kurt Warner gets a job stocking shelves at Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls, Iowa for $5.50. Warner’s downfall was the beginning of making his Christianity the core tenant of his life. No NFL Teams wanted Kurt Warner, so he bounced around in lower leagues for a couple of years. Warner eventually lands as a third-string Quarterback on the Saint Louis Rams.
After the 1998 season, when other teams could have gotten him, no one wanted him, so he stayed with the Saint Louis Rams. Due to trades and injuries plus having an established Starting QB in Trent Green, Kurt Warner becomes the back-up for the 1999 Saint Louis Rams. Trent Green’s ACL gets shredded in a pre-season game. Kurt Warner was now getting his chance. When announcing the move making Warner the Rams new starting quarterback, Warner’s head-coach Dick Vermeil is in tears at the press conference because of how devastated he was at the other Quarterback’s loss. The 1998 Saint Louis Rams were not a good football team going 4-12, now with Kurt Warner the new QB the odds in Las Vegas were 200-1 that they would win the Super Bowl. The longest odds of any team in the NFL by far.
What happened to Kurt Warner in 1999? The Saint Louis Rams become the best team in Football. They go “13-3” the offense is nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf”. The Saint Louis Rams win the Super Bowl. In August of this year, the former shelf-stocker for whom God had bigger things planned was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lumps of Gold often do lie in the most unlikely places within life.
As we hear the stories of Susan Boyle and Kurt Warner Today, our focus turns back to the Kingdom of Heaven as described in our Parable of the Vineyard/The Landowner/ and The Tenants. We reflect on what hidden talents might be inside us to help ultimately advance God’s kingdom. We ask how can we plant seeds today, so the Kingdom can exist a generation from now once we no longer possess it. We take confidence that God’s plans as in the cases of Susan Boyle and Kurt Warner are often much bigger than our own. It doesn’t matter how old, weak, unconfident that we have the ability change other people’s lives, the Landowner has given us more than we can even see on this day. How will we rent Sychar Lutheran Church, Silver Bay, and the whole wide world with the talents that God has given us? Where might the Hidden Gold lie in our lives to help proclaim Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, and a great eternal hope to a world that longs to know him?
 Dykes, David. “The Rejected Stone.” Sermon Central. 20.Aug.2012. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 Dykes, David. “The Rejected Stone.”
 Dykes, David. “The Rejected Stone.”
 Matthew 21:33-46.
 McLarty, Phillip. “Whose Vineyard Is It, Anyway?” Sermon Writer. 2005. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 Markquart, Edward. “The Wicked Servants.” Sermons from Seattle: Series A. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 Lewis, Karoline. “Caring for the Kingdom of Heaven.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul. 1. Oct.2017. Web. Oct.3.2017.
 The book is authored by Kent Hunter published in 2017 by FaithWords.
 “Susan Boyle.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 15.Sept..2017. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 Susan Boyle.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
 Susan Boyle.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation
 Higgins, Scott. “Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. A Video of a Singer Defying Expectations.” Stories for Preaching. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 “1994 NFL Draft”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 26.Sept.2017. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 “Kurt Warner.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 19.Sept.2017. Web. Oct.4.2017.
 Kurt Warner.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
 “1998 NFL Season.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.4. Aug.2017. Web. Oct.4.2017.