Grace is a good gift given to someone who does not deserve it.
And this is a gracious congregation. You have greeters showing grace at the front doors each Sunday. And it's not just an official greeting but many little greetings that follow. I have heard guests say they have rarely been greeted so warmly by so many people. You also graciously take meals to those among us who are homebound or recovering from a surgery or such. And it's not just one meal but many meals that arrive. I have heard many of you say you don't know what to do with all the food but they are encouraged to freeze it and eat it at a later date. And you also graciously maintain and decorate this sanctuary. The altar guild matches the colors to the season of the year and maintain all the vestments, altar, communion ware and elements. Musician and vocalist lift God's Word to music. I have heard people come into this sanctuary and comment not only on the physical beauty but the services themselves. It is beautiful, reverent worship.
But this kind of grace is not saving grace. Greeters, meals, and reverence is not saving grace. It is a fruit of saving grace, but it is not your salvation.
The Parable of the Vineyard is about saving grace because it is our heavenly Father's fullness of grace upon grace. The kingdom of heaven is like the master of a house who went our early in the morning for His vineyard. Notice, heaven is like the master of the vineyard. Heaven is not like a vineyard, but the actions of the master.
The master brings laborers into His vineyard throughout the day. Even at the last hour he brings more and more laborers. At the end of the day, he had his foreman to pay everyone starting with the last then up to the first. And each laborer received one denarius. One denarius is a very good wage for one days work. But those who worked the whole day thought they deserved more. They grumbled. They bore the burden of a full day plus the scorching heat. They looked down upon the laborers who showed up later in the day. They took their denarius and left.
The master is somewhat surprised and says to one of the grumblers, “Friend, I did you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius. Take what belongs to you and go...Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Do you begrudge my generosity.”
Your heavenly Father saves each of you the same way. Complete salvation. He does it His way. Some of you were baptized as infants. You have born the heat of Sunday School, Confirmation, Holy Marriage, and many years of a difficult Christian life. Even today, you ask your heavenly Father to keep you in His salvation. Some of you have not been Christian for as long. You use to worship money, houses, cars, children, education, influence among the power, etc. But your heavenly Father still saves you with a complete salvation. He does it His way. And the day is not over, your heavenly Father is still inviting more into His kingdom by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the One who works the vineyard. He works it perfectly and to His Father's great pleasure. Jesus planted a thick twisted vine. Jesus watered that vine with His very blood. And your heavenly Father invites you via His Holy Spirit into His vineyard by means of His promise to pay you with a complete salvation. He sends the Holy Spirit to wash you up in His Holy Baptism so all know that you belong to the God of all creation. He gives you His only begotten Son graphs you into the true Vine and waters you with grace upon grace in the eating of His body and the drinking of His blood.
This is saving grace. This is a good gift given to you and you do not deserve it. You don't deserve this grace if you have been in the vineyard your whole life. Your don't deserve this grace if you have just arrived. But you receive it as a gift, through the Means of Grace which are His Promises and Sacraments.
Don't confuse this saving grace with its fruit. The fruits of saving grace look like a warm greeting, a meal delivered to the weak, taking pains to care for this altar, vestments, music and the like. But the kingdom of God is like the master of a vineyard who went our early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
By the saving grace of the Holy, Triune God...welcome; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep and protect your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.