You know that phrase, eighty percent of success is showing up? That’s what Sunday’s parable feels like to me. (Who knew that Woody Allen and Jesus shared a philosophy?)

friends-1262152_1920The workers who endured the long hours and heat of the day earned exactly the same wages as the people who worked for about an hour before quitting time. Apparently, what mattered most was simply showing up. Can you come up with parallel everyday examples?

When I attended a rally in support of the Standing Rock water protectors last fall, and was the only recognizable clergy in the crowd, I realized that simply showing up mattered. It mattered not because of who I am personally, but because of what I represent as a pastor in a Christian church. The important thing was to be there, and to show the community that there are Christian leaders who love them and support their cause.

When I went to a birthday party for a 5-year-old last weekend, tired after a long morning at church, I realized that simply showing up mattered. The birthday girl didn’t care what I was wearing or if I was late, or even whether I had brought a present or not. The important thing was to be there, to show her that I love her and care about her and that she is worth my time.

That 5-year-old girl and those water protectors filled the role of gracious employer to me, even when I showed up during one of the later shifts in their cause. What places – physical, virtual, spiritual – can you and your people show up to in order to both show your love and receive the grace that is offered?

The other quote that comes to mind when I read this week’s parable is from The Princess Bride. The boy is telling his grandfather that a certain outcome to the story simply cannot be possible – it wouldn’t be fair! The grandfather replies, “Who says life is fair? Where is that written? Life isn’t always fair.”

When we see others receiving recognition and support for their effort of simply showing up, even when we’ve been laboring for hours or years under strenuous conditions and receiving no reward for our toil, we can easily get resentful. How do they deserve such grace? Well, that’s the beauty of grace. By definition, it is never given because it’s deserved, but because the person offering it is able to show love.

This parable can be an encouragement to us to simply show up, and also to remember that God isn’t always fair. Thanks be to God!

If you are preaching on one of the other Revised Common Lectionary texts this week, please share your ideas and any helpful links to commentaries or resources below. As usual, WorkingPreacher and TextWeek have some good suggestions. The staff member who prepared our worship bulletins was encouraging me to use Veggie Tales’ Jonah movie for the message this week! There are plenty of possibilities for preaching these texts. I look forward to hearing what direction you’re choosing to follow!


Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI, occasional hospital chaplain, and seasonal paddlesports instructor. She’s trying to come up with creative uses for the plethora of green beans and zucchini that are flooding her garden right now!

14 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Showing Up

    1. Thanks for sharing your reflections. This seems to be a good week for accidental secular theologians! We are also beginning stewardship season this Sunday, so I intend to tie my “showing up” theme in with showing up for church and being involved, and how/why that matters 🙂

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    1. Thank you for sharing your reflections – deeply personal, and also broadly understandable, and a great relationship with the Scripture. Blessings to you!

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    1. Thank you for sharing the link! I can’t listen to the audio at the moment, but will pull it back up tomorrow when I kick it into sermon-writing high gear 🙂

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  1. Still struggling with this sermon – it just does not want to be fully birthed yet but definitely feeling the labor pains. I am preaching for the first time for a Search Committee so I think that makes it a bit harder.
    I am originally from Germany and I am sort of intrigued by the ’40-year’ wilderness journey of the Israelites beginning with being rescued and given water and now food falling from the sky – the division of Germany lasted 40 years and it began with the Berlin blockade whereby the Soviet Union closed all access to West-Berlin and allied troops dropped food down on my hometown to keep the inhabitants alive. It is, although maybe too literal, an illustration of the ways in which God provides and also God’s inclusivity (Germans were enemies after all) and the need for all to share the provisions. Also, maybe 40 years can be understood as any time that it takes for transformation to take place that makes us come out at the other side of the wilderness.

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    1. Good luck with the sermon-birthing process! I like the connection to Germany… but then, my grandfather was born in Berlin after his parents fled the revolution in Russia. Until the day he died, he held a grudge against his sister for picking the wrong side in WWII. But how was the child of a Russian ex-pat to know which side to choose between Germany and France? Even if your members weren’t around for WWII, there are enough compelling family connections and stories that have some from that era, I think your analogy will resonate.

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