Two sons. Both asked to go to work in the vineyard by their father. One refuses. The other agrees to go. But the one who refuses subsequently ‘changes his mind’ and does what his father asked whereas the one who said he would go doesn’t.
First, I want to say that it is so wonderful to see you all here today – we are going to have a great lunch and I really hope that you will all have a wonderful time.
But I know that for some of you attending a communion service like this is a bit weird – it is not something that you have done much during your life and that you have had to overcome quite a lot of misgivings, perhaps about the church, to be here at all. Can I just tell you how grateful we are that you were brave enough to start coming to CAMEO and how welcome you are! If that is you, then I am speaking very particularly to you today.
The little story that Jesus tells about the two sons turns everything upside down – as he was prone to do. You see you would think that the people that he would praise would be the religious ones – the ones who had always done what was right; always gone to church and always said and done the right things according to the rules of the society in which they lived. But no. Jesus says that the religious people of his time just didn’t get what God wanted them to do. They were like the son who had said that he would go and work in the vineyard, but actually did not go.
No Jesus commends the people who had behaved really badly by the standards of the time – the prostitutes and the tax collectors.
In Jesus time, the tax collectors were working for the occupying Romans. They collected taxes with a bit on the top for themselves. They were cooperating with the enemy. They were traitors. The lowest of the low. Lower than the prostitutes.
But Jesus says that the tax collectors and the prostitutes had seen what Jesus was doing (and John the Baptist before him) and had decided to follow him and their lives had been transformed and, according to Jesus, ‘they were getting into the kingdom of God’ ahead of the religious people.
Now of course I am not suggesting that anyone here was a….tax collector…but what I want to say is what ever reason you might have felt alienated from God; from Christianity – things that have happened to you or things that you have done yourselves. Or the suffering that you may have experienced during your life, which may make you angry with God and felt separated from him. Anything that may have happened – whatever the obstacle – it is not too late to repent – to ask for forgiveness for anything that you might have done in your life – to ask for forgiveness for a life spent in isolation from God – and to take up today – now the offer that Jesus makes to you to join him in his Kingdom and to spend eternity with him.
Because Jesus is the solution to loneliness; Jesus is the answer to a feeling of meaninglessness and futility; Jesus is joy when you should be feeling miserable; Jesus is excitement when you should be feeling bored; Jesus is comfort in your suffering. He is the reason we were made and the meaning in our existence and until we find our place in his arms we will never be content.
So repenting means sincerely turning away from our lives spent ignoring him. Turning away from our decisions to deny him. It’s a worthwhile thing to do. It’s the most important decision you will take in your lives.
So if that is something that you want to do; no-one is forcing you to do so… I am just going to say a little prayer. Please follow along. I am going to read it out first and then say it slowly – no need for you to say anything out loud, just repeat it silently in your heart.
Lord Jesus Christ. I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life (just take a few moments to ask his forgiveness for anything in particular that is on your conscience).
Please forgive me. I now turn from everything which I know is wrong.
Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free.
Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift of your spirit. I now receive that gift.
Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me forever.
Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen
If you prayed that prayer and want to tell someone – please do tell Rebecca or me during lunch and we will pray for you again.