Good God! Rev Dr Durrell Watkins Gandhi was boarding a train one day when his shoe fell from his foot and disappeared in the gap between the train and platform. Unable to retrieve it, he took off his other shoe and threw it down by the first. When someone asked him why he threw down […]
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Gandhi was boarding a train one day when his shoe fell from his foot and disappeared in the gap between the train and platform. Unable to retrieve it, he took off his other shoe and threw it down by the first. When someone asked him why he threw down his second shoe, Gandhi explained that a poor person who finds a single shoe is no better off, but finding a pair of shoes can make a real difference.
The story shows that everyone can be generous, that generous intention is an expression of compassion, and that such generosity is a reflection of divine love.
Gandhi was once asked what he thought of Western Civilization. Gandhi replied: “I think that it would be a good idea.” I imagine he was critiquing selfishness, greed, violence, imperialist tendencies. What he lifts up as an ideal civilization, a world of justice and compassion and equal opportunity is what Jesus referred to as the kin-dom of God, the human family at its best.
Last is first, first is last
(not a demotion of the great or a promotion of the lowly, but an affirmation that in divine Reality there
is no great or lowly…we are all part of the One All, the All-in-all-as-all is fully present to and within all of us)
In the parable, the vineyard owners represent God.
The story tells us that God “owns” everything (everything is part of God, in God, can never be separated from the omnipresence). God owns it all and shares it all (as the Substance of all life, God not only contains everything but all that God is must be equally available to all life).
The vineyard owners are very generous; it seems to be their nature to be generous. They don’t just hire the workers they need; they hire workers who need work. As many workers as there are wind up being employed by the owners. And everyone is offered the same wages, regardless of what they contribute.
The parable is saying that the divine Nature is infinitely generous.
No one is left out of the Love that God is.
Generosity is about giving without seeking honor, reward, prestige or privilege. We expect to hear that message when we are asked to support ministry or other good causes. We are encouraged to support what we believe in for the joy of doing so, expecting nothing in return other than the satisfaction of supporting what we love.
But that is true not only for those of us who are asked to support ministry, it is true of God. God gives without needing praise, or obedience or “belief.” God gives lovingly, generously, unconditionally, showing no special regard for some or disdain for others. Our worship isn’t about “beliefs” or creeds or rituals; it’s about a generosity of spirit, a sharing of time, talent, and treasure, a sharing of ideas and hope and goodwill, a generous giving of ourselves expecting nothing in return because God gives all that God is, expecting nothing in return!
To give for love alone, not for what might be returned, is the divine way. It is how Jesus understood the love of God to work.
As we model divine generosity, or as we recognize divine generosity in our lives and try to emulate it, we may find that we experience other divine qualities, such as hope, joy, peace, wisdom, goodwill, courage, compassion, resilience, etc.
Notice, again, how all-inclusive and unconditional the divine generosity is:
~The workers don’t come to the land-owners, the owners approach the workers!
~The owners approach every worker, leaving no one out!
~Every worker gets the same wage regardless of their effort; those who did the least were given the same as those who did the most. Having such a good “boss” may cause us to want to do more out of love and gratitude, but the divine “boss” doesn’t require it. The Source of all gives all to all! No one, for any reason, is excluded from the Love that God is.
Of the many universalist passages in scripture, this is among the most obvious.
The story is clear about God’s all-inclusive, unconditional love, the grace that is freely offered and that all people receive regardless of what we do or don’t do, say or don’t say, believe or don’t believe. Joy and appreciation will motivate us to become more engaged in the spiritual life and community, but God’s gifts are freely offered and no one is denied them.
You deserve all the joy, love, and fulfillment that is possible to experience simply because you exist. We are each part of God and divine Life is always seeking to express through and as us, the Vineyard owner is always looking for us, offering us all that It has offered every other person, ever.
This sounds like good news, right? But notice how insecure we can become. We are glad that Life offers us good gifts, but we also want our gifts to be special; we want to believe that we are superior to others, that we have some sort of privilege that others cannot attain.
The full-day workers don’t feel cheated by their wages. They are given all they were promised. Their complaint is that “the Other” is no less important than they are. Until we realize that we are worthy not in comparison to others’ unworthiness but simply because we are “part and parcel of God”, then we are still trying to belittle others so that we can feel better by comparison. But the owner treats all the workers equally. There is no preference, no privilege, no class distinction…All that the owners offer they offer to everyone. The All-in-all gives all to all.
This is the message, not only of the Sunshine Cathedral, but of spiritual teachers throughout the ages. Omnipresence is just that…the One Presence that is everywhere, fully, evenly, perfectly present. We can’t be separated from it because it the ground of all being. All that it is must be available at all times. It is the Life of every life. We can’t be separate from it, not in this experience of life or any other.
Whoever you are, whatever you’ve experienced, there is hope and joy and peace in unlimited supply for you to experience, now and forever. The Love that God is cannot and will not let you go. And to remember this truth is to have all the power we ever need to face any challenge, to overcome any obstacle, and to heal from any disappointment. Divine generosity wants you to experience all the peace and joy that is possible. You’ll never lose God’s love, you’ll never be separate from God’s light, because, the simple and final truth is, we have a Good God! And this is the good news.
© Durrell Watkins 2014
The All-in-all offers all to all.
I expect and accept blessings today.
And I wish for all people to be blessed as well.
And so it is!