Our scripture this week is Matthew 21:33-46.

“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Jesus uses the illustration of tenants taking care of a vineyard for the landowner to show us our place in creation. The lesson speaks of responsibility, but also to the fact that while God owns all of creation, we are called to care for it and enjoy its blessings and beauty. When we fail in our duty to manage God’s gift and give Him the glory, we are like the wicked tenants.

In the very beginning, God called us to be part of His creating work, to care for what He had given us and use it wisely. Genesis 1:28 tells us “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.'” We are intended to look after the earth and its bounty.

While God gave it to us to use, we have a responsibility to Him to value the earth and its riches, to ensure that it is maintained, and above all to remember that we are only tenants. We are not in charge here. Nothing we see or use was made by our own hands, but only through God’s love for us.

Gracious God, we are thankful for the gift of the good earth that sustains us. You created us and placed us here for Your purpose. Help us to do Your will and care for the gifts You have given. Amen.

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