The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's 5 o'clock somewhere ...

Now, I’m not whining, but I’ve got to tell you, sisters and brothers, it’s been a tough week for me.

At The Daily Times, we had that 126-page section to get out because it was scheduled to run today. (As it turns out, it will be inserted into the Tuesday, Sept. 23, edition.)

We had a folder break on the press. A folder is a mechanism that trims the paper and folds the sections. What that means is we couldn’t run the press until it got fixed. So, one night, we had to have the paper printed in Sevierville.

I managed to escape the worst of that deal … but, people were still coming to me expecting answers.

And I did my best …

Then, we had Charge Conference at Green Meadow United Methodist Church — which, truth be told, was actually a high point in the week for me.

On Friday, I had to take a vacation day to move Elizabeth into an apartment in Johnson City — a second-floor apartment, mind you.

But we survived that, too.

In the midst of all of that, I was working on this message.

Now, as we say in the newsroom, the work flow for worship goes something like this:

Once I decide on the Scripture, I look for words and phrases to jump out a me as I seek to discern, “What’s the message, here?”

When that hits me, I think about the imagery.

I love this text, and have spoken about it before in the terms of “The 11th Hour,” that being the time when the last workers were hired.

So, I did this quick image and was pretty much satisfied … that is, until the obvious hit me: The 11th hour was not 11 o’clock in the text, it was 5 o’clock, for that was the 11th hour in the Jewish custom and culture.

So, I reworked the image to look like this.

Well, that didn’t set right with me either, to have “the 11th hour” and the hands being on the 5 o’clock hour.”

By then, it was about the 11th hour for me — that being 11 or 11:30 p.m. — and I was getting a bit exasperated, so I just went to bed.

As I lay there with the text running through my head, the title of an Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet song hit me and I turned to Donna and said, “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere.”

If you're not familiar with the song, go to YouTube.

The lyrics go something like this:

The sun is hot and that ol' clock is movin' slow

And so am I

Workday passes like molassas in wintertime

But it's July

Gettin' paid by the hour and older by the minute

My boss just pushed me over the limit

I'd like to call him somethin'

But think I'll just call it a day

Pour me somethin' tall and strong

Make it a hurricane before I go insane

It's only half past twelve, but I don't care

It's five o'clock somewhere

Now, as you can tell, that’s pretty much a drinkin’ song.

But I’m not promoting alcohol, here.

Even though I don’t think having a glass of wine, or a beer, or whatever beverage you prefer, is a sin for most people.

I don’t drink anymore. As they say in the hills of Upper East Tennessee, I was once “bad to drink.”

So, in my case, it would be a sin, because I know where God brought me from, and I know where that one glass would eventually lead.

I never drank one of anything in my life.

I’m sort of like another country and western song -- which I could have written but Blake Shelton beat me to it -- that says, “The More I Drink, the More I Drink.”

So, I just don’t … drink, that is.

But there’s something about that song — “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” — that appeals to me that is outside of the obvious alcohol references.

Hang with me, now.

Today’s text, Matthew 20:1-16, is sometimes referred to as The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

This is a story about God's radical grace, where everyone will receive the same reward. In the vineyard, first equals last, last equals first.

The story goes that there was once a great debate in heaven as to who was the greatest monument of God's grace.

The stories were told, one after another, as those who had been redeemed described in lurid detail the sin from which Christ had delivered them.

The competition was tough, but one old fellow seemed to be winning out. There didn’t seem to be a sin that this old guy hadn’t committed. And then he related how he came to Christ on his deathbed.

But then a woman stepped up and told of how she had come to Christ as a child and had followed him all the days of her life.

When the vote was taken, it was not one who had lifted up from the miry pit who was seen as the greatest testimony to grace, but the woman who had walked with Christ all of her days.

That’s a pretty good story.

But what’s the problem here?

It doesn't match what Jesus says in Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

But that’s the way we view the gift of grace.

But the reality of Scripture is this: The economy of God’s grace says what?

First equals last; last equals first.

In the Kingdom of God, everyone receives the same reward regardless of how much work they have done.

Thank God in the upside down economy of God's grace that “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere" and the reward is the same.

Somewhere, perhaps even as you read this, there is likely someone who is coming to Christ in his or her last hour. In so doing, they’re going to get the same measure of grace, the same reward, as the person who walked with Christ all of their days.

Look at your watch, it says ____.

But it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and that believer will arrive at the same destination as the rest of us believers.

But we never know the hour we will depart.

Know that whether you are in the third hour, the sixth hour, or the 11th hour, the same blood of Christ covers your sins.

But consider this: You may be in the latter hour … the 11th hour … do not let it quickly pass you by.

You’re standing in the marketplace and the master is calling to you: "Why are you standing here all day long? Go, and work in my vineyard."

Grace and peace ...