Each year the Women's Interchurch Council of Canada, in conjunction with sister agencies in other countries, produces resources for the World Day of Prayer. Each year the service is prepared by women in one country and shared around the globe. This year's service comes from the Philippines.
For more about the World Day of Prayer and the Women's Interchurch Council look here:
Co-ordination of the services is generally handled by the Women's groups of the sponsoring churches. In Grande Prairie the sponsoring churches are:
St. Paul's United
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic
Christ Church Anglican
The Salvation Army
with the service rotating between the various buildings. This year it is St. Paul's turn to host.
The Scripture Reading that has been chosen for the service this year is Matthew 20:1-16.
The topic question for the service is Am I Being Unfair to You?
Meditation Early Thoughts: It is a complaint almost every parent has heard "it's not FAIR!"
Maybe the siblings got a different number of chocolate chips in their cookie. Maybe one got something another didn't. Or maybe they got the same but one thought they deserved more than the other....
That appears to be the complaint in this story. Everyone get paid the same, whether they started work first thin in the morning or only spent the last hour of the day in the fields. On the surface it does not seem fair does it? Most often our understanding of fair compensation would say that the more you do, the more you get.
The landowner disagrees. The landowner points out that the early crew got paid exactly what had been agreed to at the beginning of the contract. If he chooses to be generous (or even overly generous) with those who joined in later in the day what of it?
It is Gospel language. It is the wisdom of God's Kingdom. It is not, in the end about being fair. It is, to be truthful, about being just.
Think of those "fairness" discussions we have with our children. Most often it appears that to be fair means to treat each other equally, to treat each individual the same. Kingdom logic, Godly wisdom, says that to be fair means treating each individual as they need. Take this for example:
In the case of our scripture story, fair means different. The agreed upon wage for a daily labourer was what they needed to eat for that day. Are you less in need of that simply because you were not one of the first chosen? What if you showed up late to the casual labour desk?
Fair means just means needs are being met. It is parabolic logic. It goes against everything we have been taught about fair pay.
But that is what God calls us to do, to be people of justice. Are we willing to upend our understanding of "fair" to ensure all have their needs met?