Sunday 20th September 2020

 

 

Call to worship

The Lord our God is great and to be highly praised.

We come to worship.

The Lord our God is beyond our understanding.

We come to worship.

The Lord our God is loving and full of mercy.

We come to worship.

 

Hymn

CH4 159

1.      Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,

Urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,

Sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided,

Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

 

2.      Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,

Speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,

Teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us,

Lord of the word, receive your people’s praise.

 

3.      Lord, four our land, in this our generation,

Spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care,

For young and old, for commonwealth and nation,

Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

 

4.      Lord, for our world; when we disown and doubt him,

Loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,

Hungry and helpless, lost indeed without him,

Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

 

5.      Lord, for ourselves, in living power remake us,

Self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,

Past put behind us, for the future take us,

Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.

 

Prayer

Lord God,

We all belong to your kingdom,

And we bring our different lives and experiences

To worship you today, the true and living God.

Today O Lord we are here to worship,

We pray that you would accept us as we are,

With all that we offer and all that we bring.

Lord God,

We don’t always know how we got where we are,

and we certainly don’t always know where we are going;

we don’t always choose the right path,

and we certainly don’t always follow it;

we don’t always cope well with the struggles of life,

and we don’t always give thanks for the joys of life either,

we don’t always think of the effects that our choices have on others,

near or far,

too often we are selfish,

wanting what we want, no matter what the cost might be to others.

Loving and Almighty God,

Forgive us, reassure us

And cradle us within your forgiveness.

We continue our prayer with the words that Jesu s taught us…

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

On earth and it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And for give us our debts as we forgive our debtors,

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,

For ever and ever,

Amen.

 

Readings

Jonah 3:10 – 4: 11

Matthew 20: 1 – 16

 

Reflection

Jonah 3: 10 – 4: 11

The ancient city of Nineveh was in Assyria – modern day Iraq, on the outskirts of Mosul. Jonah is not keen on his job as a prophet, and he is quite angry with God. At first he did not believe that the Gentile Ninevites were not worth saving – but he was also sure that God would forgive the Ninevites anyway (Psalm 145: 8) – so he thought that his role was a bit of a waste of time, and he would be made to look stupid. Even so, God continued to interact with Jonah. A plant grew and Jonah became attached to it. Then the plant died, Jonah was sad and became angry with God again. But God still persists with Jonah and rebuked him for being more upset about the fate of a plant than about the 120,000 in habitants of Nineveh. AS the verse from Psalm 145:8 says, “God is ever merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

 

Matthew 20: 1 – 16

Matthew is the only gospel write to record this story told by Jesus about the social and economical issues in first century Palestine. The vineyard is a common symbol for Israel in the Hebrew scriptures and in some of Jesus’ other parables, the landowner is sometimes to be understood as God. But we do not need to make such direct links here. This is not an allegory depicting life in heaven or on earth (Matthew uses Kingdom of Heaven where others say ‘kingdom’ or ‘reign’ of God). Rather it is a story – a parable – using imagery familiar to the audience. The landowner hires workers according to the ‘steadfast love; principle of Psalm 145 rather than the usual worldly/human way of treating workers at the time – or even now. This pay policy makes some of the workers angry, and their reaction is as understandable for us today as it was when Jesus told the story. But this is not teaching on how to run a business, it is a parable to illustrate what true compassion means: that no one should be deprived of food – a challenge as relevant to us in the 21st century as it was 2000 years ago. Do we share God’s goodness, or do we keep it to ourselves?

In our readings today we have encountered dissatisfied workers – Jonah is unhappy with his job as a prophet, the workers in the vineyard complain about their work and their pay. The life – the work to which we are called by God doesn’t always work  out in the ways that we think it should. How can we listen, how can we make sure that we follow where God lead?

   

Prayer

We praise you Lord,

For all that you are,

For the creation that is yours,

For its beauty and wonder, its diversity and richness.

We praise you for your presence and comfort

That wrap us in our purity and enrich us with your goodness.

We praise you for your steadfastness

That preserves us, your faltering disciples, and failing followers.

We praise you, that day by day,                                                                                     

You amaze and enrich us

And reveal yourself to us in new and unexpected ways.

We praise you that you are the same, yesterday, today, and forever,

And yet forever new.

Eternal, ever living and ever-present God,

In the struggles and joys of this day, we pray:

For those who are in places and situations of war and unrest,

For those who are in the areas of huge bush fires…

God, be with them.

For those in positions of leadership who have responsibility for others…

God, be with them.

For those who are overburdened, weighed down demoralised,

Fearful or desolate because of what life has thrown at them…

God, be with them.

For those engulfed in pain and anguish, facing illness in body, mind or spirit…

God, be with them.

For those who mourn the los of a loved one,

For those alone and lonely, without friend or comfort…

God, be with them.

For those frightened and bewildered,

Who see no direction or purpose in their lives…

God, be with them.

Eterna; and ever-living God,

Bless us all in this and every hour,

In this, and every step of life’s journey.

Through Jesus’ name we pray,

Amen.

    

Hymn

CH4 167

1.      Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but thou art mighty,

Hold me with thy powerful hand.

Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,

Feed me till my want is o’er.

 

2.      Open now the crystal fountain,

Whence the healing stream doth flow.

Let the fire and cloudy pillar,

lead me all my journey through,

strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,

be thou still my strength and shield.

3.      When I tread the verge of Joran,

Bid my anxious fears subside!

Death of death, and hell’s destruction,

Land me safe on Canaan’s side!

Songs of praises, songs of praises,

I will ever give to thee.

 

Blessing