MARCH 3 was international Women’s World Day of Prayer, first started in the 1800s.

It is celebrated all round the world in 170 countries. In Altrincham, for example, there was a morning service at Holy Cross Church, Timperley and an afternoon service at Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, Hale Barns. All the ecumenical services follow the same circulated format, this year written by Christian women in the Philippines.

Their theme was “Am I being Unfair to You?” This relates to the parable of Jesus chosen as the Bible reading in the service. (Matthew 20, v.1 – 16) It is about a land-owner wishing to harvest his large crop of grapes. He hires some workers at the start of the day, agreeing with them the regular daily wage. At regular intervals during the day he hires more workers for a fair wage. At the end of the day they line up for their money. Those who started to work only in the late afternoon were paid first, the regular wage for the whole day. Working down the line all the workers received the same day’s wage. When those who had started first thing in the morning were paid they received the same amount.

They complained to the land- owner that they had worked and sweated through the heat of the day but they had received no more than the workers who started much later when it was cooler. The land-owner says,

“Friend, I haven’t treated you unfairly, remember what we agreed? The regular daily wage? Be content and go home. If I chose to help the unemployed, isn’t that my right? You’re surely not resentful because I have a social conscience?”

Somehow this story strikes at the heart of our feeling that there is a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. That the fair way to act is for those who work less to receive less. In this biblical story the land-owner represents God. His ways are not our ways.

So the women of the Philippines show us two important truths. Firstly that we should let God be God and not bind him into our human mind-set. Secondly that we should value the gift of generosity which considers that everyone is worthy of dignity, employed or unemployed.

Ruth Neal

Churches together in Hale