“Bloom with Expansiveness: God’s Values and God’s Kindom” by Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian

September 30th,2021 Categories: Weekly Letter

Beloved,

This week has been full. Certainly full of news, and I hope also full of rest and moments of joy for each of you. When we experience full weeks, it’s a delight to be able to lean into this  community and process them together. All are welcome at our weekly Worship, weekly Bible Study and other monthly ministries as we lean into making sense of the world together.

One of many things making this week full has been the brutality against Haitian Migrants at our border in Texas. As our government took steps to keep emigrated Haitians safe from deportation, Haitian Migrants in Chilé and other South American countries took it as a sign of hope that they would be welcomed into the United States. As thousands of hopeful migrants arrived at the border and crossed, they were met with brutality as border patrol officers on horseback used their reigns as whips to corral them. These beloved children of God were met with hostility, greeted with violence, and treated as less than human.

These bodies faced viciousness that some of us foolishly believed to have been eradicated. We know this treatment is in opposition to God’s love and justice, and our scripture for this week speaks to it.

We encounter God’s vision of justice in this week’s scripture from the Gospel of Matthew. This week’s scripture brings with it a parable about what the Kindom of Heaven is like. Let’s read together with an ear for what this scripture may tell us about our pursuit of justice as we seek to realize God’s kindom on Earth.

1 “The kindom of heaven is like the owner of an estate who went out at dawn to hire workers for the vineyard. 2 After reaching an agreement with them for the usual daily wage, the owner sent them out to the vineyard.

3 “About mid-morning, the owner came out and saw others standing around the marketplace without work, 4 and said to them, ‘You go along to my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is fair.’ 5 At that they left.

“Around noon and again in the mid-afternoon, the owner came out and did the same. 6 Finally, going out late in the afternoon, the owner found still others standing around and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’
 
7 “‘No one has hired us,’ they replied.
 
“The owner said, ‘You go to my vineyard, too.’
 
8 “When evening came, the owner said to the overseer, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, but begin with the last group and end with the first.’ 9 When those hired late in the afternoon came up, they received a full day’s pay, 10 and when the first group appeared they assumed they would get more. Yet they all received the same daily wage.
 
11 “Thereupon they complained to the owner, 12 ‘This last group did only an hour’s work, but you’ve put them on the same basis as those who worked a full day in the scorching heat.’
 
13 “’My friends,’ said the owner to those who voiced this complaint, ‘I do you no injustice. You agreed on the usual wage, didn’t you? 14 Take your pay and go home. I intend to give this worker who was hired last the same pay as you.
 
15 “’I’m free to do as I please with my money, aren’t I? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
 
16 “Thus the last will be first and the first will be last.”

[Matthew 20:1-16 (ILB)/ Mateo 20:1-16 (NVI)]

These labor hiring practices – all workers congregating and farmers coming to hire laborers from the selection – are still happening today in rural America. It is one of the common ways that migrant workers are hired. When people hire workers from these places, they pick the most desirable first –  those whose bodies most closely resemble their ideal employee. In situations of employment, the ideal is the individual who looks most productive  – the strong, the young, the able.

In our parable, the estate owner makes multiple hires throughout the day, hiring bodies that grow less and less likely to resemble their physiological ideal. Because of this, we can say with some certainty that those hired last are those whose bodies least resemble the cultural ideal.

The estate owner, whose decisions map out for us what justice looks like in the kindom of Heaven, pays those who are less desired – those who worked just one hour –  the same amount they pay the strong, able individuals they hired at the beginning of the day. This is justice in the kindom of God.

This parable teaches us unequivocally that God values all bodies equally. Unlike our society which operates on white supremacist values and prioritizes the American-born, able, white, cis-gender, straight man, God does the reverse. God sees those least valued by a society, calls them, makes their burden lightest, and pays them first. This is justice in the kindom of God.

As made clear over the past week, America continues to devalue the immigrant body. Our policies and actions at our Southern Border as new migrants arrive reveal this. Instead of offering refuge, we refuse to welcome the stranger. As our society continues to locate a person’s value by their proximity to being a cis-het American white man, we continue to deny the justice of the kindom of  God.

It is my prayer, Beloved, that we might break out of this system of valuing others and of valuing ourselves. May we see that all bodies are holy, needed, and welcome, and may this truth be known to our policy setters and to those living along the border.

In this full week, I hope your body has found time for rest.

Yours in Body and Spirit,

Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian