Sunday 4th October

18th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Call to worship

God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Calls us to set our sights

On the goal of following and living

In the way of Christ.

God calls us to follow now.

 

Hymn

CH4 259

1.      Beauty for brokenness,

Hope for despair,

Lord in the suffering,

This is our prayer.

Bread for the children,

Justice, joy, peace,

Sunrise to sunset,

Your kingdom increase.

 

2.      Shelter for fragile lives,

Cures for their ills,

Work for the craftsmen,

Trade for their skills.

Land for the dispossessed,

Rights for the weak,

Voices to plead the cause

Of those who can’t speak.

God of the poor,

Friend of the weak,

Give us compassion we pray,

Melt our cold hearts,

Let tears fall like rain,

Come, change our love

From a spark to a flame.

 

3.      Refuge from cruel wars,

Havens from fear,

Cities for sanctuary,

Freedom to share.

Peace to the killing fields,

Scorched earth to green,

Christ for the bitterness,

His cross for the pain.

 

4.      Rest for the ravaged earth,

Oceans and streams,

Plundered and poisoned,

Our future, our dreams.

Lord end our madness,

Carelessness, greed;

Make us content

With the things that we need.

God of the poor,

Friend of the weak,

Give us compassion we pray,

Melt our cold hearts,

Let teras fall like rain,

Come change our love

From a spark to a flame.

 

5.      Lighten our darkness,

Breathe on this flame,

Until your justice

Burns brightly again:

Until the nations

Learn of your ways,

Seek your salvation

And bring you their praise.

God of the poor,

Friend of the weak,

Give us compassion we pray,

Melt our cold hearts,

Let tears fall like rain,

Come change our love

From a spark to a flame.

   

Prayer

Lord God,

As we journey towards the goal you set before us,

We see glimpses of who you are,

Often perhaps too deep and unimaginable

To understand and grasp fully

The depth of your being.

What we see and feel spurs us on

In our journey to discover more of you.

God of the journey of life,

The mystery of our very being,

We confess that the journey we take

Gets disrupted and we get side-tracked.

We go off, following paths that lead us nowhere,

Taking us to bad and barren places.

We find our way back to you in sorrow for our failings

And in penitence for our wanderings.

Lord, may we be enriched by your welcome,

Relieved by your forgiveness,

And comforted by your all-embracing love.

We continue our prayer by praying the words of the Lord’s Prayer…

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

On earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive 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

Philippians 3: 4b – 14

Matthew 21: 33 – 46

 

Reflection

Philippians 3: 4b – 14

Paul sets out his credentials here by citing the marks of his Jewish identity (vv4 – 6) reminding us that he was once part of the ruling elite who are condemned in the passage from Matthew. But none of that means anything to him any longer, in fact it is a disadvantage and something that he is more than willing to give up – not that Paul ever shows any sign of turning his back on Judaism – it is simply that what he has in Christ means so much more, and is available to Jews and Gentiles alike. So, he stands firm against those who want Gentile believers in Christ first to become Jews. Faith in Christ is all that matters.

Faith in Christ, however, is a tough road. Paul does not want to claim too much for himself. He is striving towards the great goal of resurrection from the dead, but not even he has secured it yet. Indeed, he is not able to reach the goal alone, it is only because “Christ Jesus has made me his own” (v 12) that it becomes possible. Remaking his identity ‘in Christ’ is a big project that he has not fully achieved, but it is his ultimate goal (v 14).

 

Matthew 21: 33 – 46

Jesus’ parable of the vineyard begins in much the same way as the one in Isaiah (chapter 5). The Jewish leaders would have recognised the scriptural symbolism of the story, they knew what Isaiah did with it. They probably felt comfortable that they knew where Jesus was going with this parable – that he was, in effect, telling them of a dark event of the past, one that everyone knows about, but was going to end by telling them – it’s alright, things are different now’.

Except that Jesus did not do that! Instead, the ending in which the tenants are driven out and new tenants brought in is deeply disturbing – more disturbing than Isaiah’s ending was in his day. And it is disturbing because it is about those who are listening. It is about the moral failings of the Pharisees and their ‘class’ in relation to the values of the Kingdom. God will endorse only those who produce ‘the fruits of the kingdom’ (v 43) and is calling them out for their abuse of power.

How do we see ourselves with regard to ‘producing the fruits of the kingdom’ and holding up the values of the Kingdom?

 

Prayer

Lord God we bring to you our prayers for the church and for the world.

Let us pray.

Lord, we bring to you the problems and the stresses

Of our lives and of the world.

We pray for those who are in places of danger,

Situations of hardship and difficulty,

Those who live in poverty,

Both world-wide and closer to home

In our own country.

God of all, we pray for them.

We bring to you

those who re in positions of leadership,

at international, national and local level,  

and pray that they may have care and concern

for the people they lead.

God of all, we pray for them.

We bring to you

Those who are sick,

Whether at home, in hospital,

Hospice or care home,

And all those who care for them day by day.

God of all, we pray for them.

We bring to you

Those who mourn,

Those who struggle with life issues,

And all who work to help them through their struggles.

God of all, we pray for them.

We bring to you ourselves,

May we continue to help and encourage one another

As we strive to move forward in your way,

And share the good news of your love.

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers

For the sake of your Son,

Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,

Amen.

  

Hymn

CH4 543

1.      Longing for light, we wait in darkness.

Longing for truth, we turn to you.

Make us your own, your holy people,

Light for the world to see.

Christ be our light!

Shine in our hearts,

Shine through the darkness.

Christ be our light!

Shine in your Church gathered today.

 

2.      Longing for peace, our world is troubled,

Longing for hope, many despair.

Your word alone has power to save us,

Make us your living voice.

Christ be our light! …

 

3.      Longing for food, many are hungry,

Longing for water, many still thirst.

Make us your bread, broken for others,

Shared until all are fed.

Christ be our light!...

 

4.      Longing for shelter, many are homeless,

Longing for warmth, many are cold.

Make us your building, sheltering others,

Walls made of living stone.

Christ be our light!...

 

5.      Many the gifts, many the people,

Many the hearts that yearn to belong.

Let us be servants to one another,

Making your kingdom come.

Christ be our light!...

    

Blessing

Lord God,

We journey now from our time of worship

Back to the tasks of daily life.

But we also go on another journey,

The journey pf our Christian life,

A personal journey,

Some of it seen by others,

All of it seen and known by you, Lord.

Lord, give us guidance,

Give us the courage and persistence

That we need to follow where you lead,

Even if the path is tough.

Be our guide we pray.

And may the blessing of God Almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with us today and forever,

Amen.