All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, SC
May 20, 2005
Trust is a rather lonely word sitting by itself. In the course of our lives and our faith, trust does not stand alone, yet speaks .profoundly of human and divine relationships. What is the degree of trust between God and us (from God's perspective and ours)? How do we trust others? How do we trust ourselves to live in a complex world with the reasonable hope of doing the right thing more times than not? What happens when that trust you have in yourself falters and is in need of attention? Often trust is just another word we use as part of the wallpaper of our lives, and it doesn't take on "real" meaning until we need to examine it more closely, personally, and critically. The following is a story about trust.
Once upon a time there was a king who possessed a vineyard, a very extensive vineyard. The fruit of that vineyard delighted the king for it yielded not only enormous amounts of wine, but wine that was also well regarded. The vineyard was so vast, with different varietals that the king sent out laborers who tended the vines and the fruit of the vines. The king always trusted his workers; in fact he realized that the fruit was really a gift from God; that although he owned the land, and the workers knew what they were doing, in the end the fruit of their labor depended on the grace of God. No matter how hard they worked in the vineyard, beyond the richness of the soil or the right amount of sun and rain, the vineyard ultimately depended upon the grace of God who provided the soil, the rain and sun, and the abilities of the workers, who enjoyed their work in the vineyard. In a real sense the king trusted God to provide and the king also trusted the workers to know what they were doing.
One year there was a call from the king to add new growth vines to a small portion of his vineyard. The mature vines were fine and produced excellent wine, but it was time to introduce new grapes for the future. There was some talk about how to introduce new vines in the midst of the mature growth, how to do that without sacrificing the already established vines and how to yield a harvest that would be worthy of the king's expectation. The soil and sun would be the same, as would be the rain and the temperature of the region, but how to cultivate and tend the mature and the new vines together in such a way as to produce a great harvest?
The laborers responded with spirited work. They found the soil quite receptive to the new vines, for the soil that had fed over the years the mature vines was good soil for the new vines. To be sure, there was gnashing of teeth and differences of opinion about how to go about yielding a great harvest, yet there was no question whatsoever that all the laborers wanted to produce a great harvest. One enterprising laborer, in his own work, lost sight of the fact that he had to trust others in their work in the vineyard. .He said to himself that he trusted God, he trusted others, but somehow in the field all day, every day, he assumed more and more responsibility for the harvest. He forgot that the vineyard needed the attention of many who worked alongside him, that the other laborers were just as invested in the outcome as he was.
In the field one day he took it upon himself to look more closely at the vines; he actually touched and examined a leaf and then a grape in a different way than he had before. He marveled at the texture and beauty of the leaf's color and veins; the grape looked so delicate and round. It was as if he had seen them for the first time. He was lost also in his own thoughts, for the fruit of the vine returned him to why he was there, what he was doing, and then he looked around and saw other laborers digging and tending. Could he trust himself and his fellow workers to yield a harvest? Was it possible for him to relax and give thanks to God that there is a vineyard and that the harvest is not dependent on one or even several laborers, but rather dependent upon the grace of God, who is ultimately in charge of harvests.
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