Reversal of fortunes by winning the lottery is less than “one in a million” and it’s clear from many stories of instant millionaires that money really isn’t everything. People who spend their lives climbing over people to reach the top of whatever ladder they’re on are sometimes similarly disillusioned to find that it’s “lonely at the top.”
As we move toward the end of the liturgical year in the Scripture readings, the questions put to Jesus are more frequently focused on who will “make it” in the kingdom of God. Jesus is clear about the universality of salvation when he says that “people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.” But it’s the next line (LK 13:30) that should make us think. It’s familiar but not always easy to hear. “For behold, some are last who will be first and some who are first will be last.” It’s an interesting sense of reversal if we consider Paul’s words this morning as well. He’s talking about masters not bullying their slaves and says that “each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does, whether slave or free…both they and you have a Master in heaven and with him there is no partiality.” (EPH 6:9)
So what’s the point? It sounds to me as if we can be confident of God’s grace regardless of our life circumstances but we need to remember that we have a part to play in the story. It isn’t enough to sit back and wait for “Lady Luck” to take care of our every need. Neither can we work so fast and hard to beat out everyone to the finish line that we leave everyone else in our dust. Once again the emerging wisdom comes from the “heart of the matter.” We are all equals in the kingdom of God – here and now as well as in whatever will later come to be. And love is the prize that is only achieved as we work – and play – together.