STRANGE GRACE INDEED
ARE YOU EARLY? ARE YOU LATE?
Sometimes grace comes at midnight. Some people call it dying grace. In the middle of a Pandemic it may appear as if grace is veiled.
However it is during this time that it will lead to the greatest of grace.
Grace upon grace.
It was grace veiled in a famine that caused a prodigal to say that the pigs at his father's house had better food. Starving, he rose and "came to his senses" and made his way back to the Father's house.
It was another famine that reunited a man named Joseph with his brothers.
Grace is never veiled.
Never veiled in tragedy.
Grace calls easily in the early morning in the dawn of creation and calls out in the eleventh hour.
In fact, it may shine the brightest in the middle of darkness.
In the beautiful vineyard were the workers who have worked since the early morning sun rose over it. The dew is still on the grapes and as they are getting warm in the sunlight their sweet fragrance fills the air. Babes in arms and toddlers run in the vineyard. They are the children of grace, born there and working since childhood. There is beauty in that. In the rising sun they work in the vineyard of the Lord.
Outside the vineyard sit the idlers, lazy as the day heats up. Lolling in the morning sun, barely awake. The Master of the Vineyard searches for them and wakes them up and invites them to come work in the Vineyard. In their sleepiness he invites them. All throughout that long day, at three in the afternoon, at six in the evening , later still at nine p.m. and then at the eleventh hour Grace wakes them. Some were standing with their hands in their pockets bored and lazy.
They follow the Master into the vineyard and as they walk, heading towards there, the weight of their sins falls off and unencumbered they walk through the gate.
At the very hour of death they come.
For all the workers, the young and the old, the first and the last the wages are the same. The wages are eternal life in the Vineyard, The Kingdom of God.
The Son of God in the ebbing light of the day as darkness approached and in the agony of his own death drew the dying thief beside Him into the vineyard.
The thief called out the simplest prayer, so powerful and profound.
"Lord Remember Me!"
It was a cry from the dungeon.
The answer came without hesitation.
"Today you will be with me in Paradise."
Who was it that followed Jesus through the gates of Heaven?
Who was the favoured last companion of Jesus?
Was it some honoured martyr?
Was it Abraham? Was it Moses?
Was it a prince like David?
Was it the faithful apostle, Paul?
It could have been the dying thief!
A strange grace indeed!
There was a woman who had a dream and in her dream, she stood outside the gate of heaven. While she stood there she heard sweet music from a group of people approaching the gate.
She stood still and asked the Keeper of the Gate, "Who are these people and where did they come from?"
"Oh, those are the glorious Prophets of Old," was the answer.
She sighed and still stood waiting outside the gate.
"I can not go in with them," she said.
Then came another group of holy men and women white robed, with palms in their hands - singing hallelujah through the gates of the golden city.
So now she wept.
"I can not enter in with them."
Then she saw a great multitude and saw Rahab the prostitute and Mary Magdalene among the crowd and Manasseh the idolater, Samson seduced by Delilah, Peter the betrayer and Thomas the doubter.
And in the group was the dying thief.
Then with great joy she said.
"I can go in with these!"
As she joined with this group there rose such a chorus of praise as they walked through the gate."
Are you early? Are you late?
In God's grace and economy they both have their own value and beauty. The early morning sun in the vineyard of the Kingdom with the dew fresh on the grapes and the setting sun in the stillness of the day and the beautiful rest and peace of the night. In God's grace they blend, creating their own unique beauty, no longer separated in the Kingdom of Heaven. Nothing separated, joined, each playing their own part in the symphony of the creation. The grapes of God's Vineyard creating the sweetest wine of the vine the world has ever known. …………….June Smith, April 18, 2020
""Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Greater than all my sin
How can my tongue describe it ?
Where shall it's praise begin?
Taking away my burden
Setting my spirit free
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!" *Helder Lillenas -1918
**The stories of the Vineyard and the dying thief are based on scriptures found in Mathew 20: 1,3,5, 6 and Luke 23: 42, 43