Trinity 16 Sunday 24th September

Hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, The King of Creation!

  1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
    O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
    All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
    Praise Him in glad adoration.
     
  1. Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
    Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
    Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
    Granted in what He ordaineth?
     
  1. Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
    Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
    Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
    If with His love He befriend thee.
     
  1. Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
    All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
    Let the Amen sound from His people again,
    Gladly for aye we adore Him.
    (by Joachim Neander – 1650 to 1680)

The Greeting

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

All:       And also with you

The Peace 

We are the body of Christ.

In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

Let us then pursue all that makes for peace

and builds up our common life.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

All:       And also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

(Please turn to those around you, offering your hand, and say

‘The peace of the Lord be with you’)

Prayer of Preparation

All:      Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Prayer of Penitence

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our Cod is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your Cod with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

All:       Amen. Lord, have mercy.

God so loved the world

that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ

to save us from our sins,

to be our advocate in heaven,

and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith,

firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments

and to live in love and peace with all.

All:       Father eternal, giver of light and grace,

we have sinned against you and against our neighbour,

in what we have thought,

in what we have said and done,

through ignorance, through weakness,

through our own deliberate fault.

We have wounded your love

and marred your image in us.

We are sorry and ashamed

and repent of all our sins.

For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,

who died for us,

forgive us all that is past

and lead us out from darkness

to walk as children of light.

Amen.

Almighty God,

who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:       Amen.

Collect for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers

of your people who call upon you;

and grant that they may both perceive and know

what things they ought to do,

and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

All: Amen

Our First Reading is – Exodus Chap: 16

2 There in the desert they all complained to Moses and Aaron

3 and said to them, “We wish that the Lord had killed us in Egypt. There we could at least sit down and eat meat and as much other food as we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert to starve us all to death.”

4 The Lord said to Moses, “Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions.

5 On the sixth day they are to bring in twice as much as usual and prepare it.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt.

7 In the morning you will see the dazzling light of the Lord’s presence. He has heard your complaints against him – yes, against him, because we are only carrying out his instructions.”

8 Then Moses said, “It is the Lord who will give you meat to eat in the evening and as much bread as you want in the morning, because he has heard how much you have complained against him. When you complain against us, you are really complaining against the Lord.”

9 Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole community to come and stand before the Lord, because he has heard their complaints.”

10 As Aaron spoke to the whole community, they turned toward the desert, and suddenly the dazzling light of the Lord appeared in a cloud.

11 The Lord said to Moses,

12 “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them that at twilight they will have meat to eat, and in the morning they will have all the bread they want. Then they will know that I, the Lord, am their God.”

13 In the evening a large flock of quails flew in, enough to cover the camp, and in the morning there was dew all around the camp.

14 When the dew evaporated, there was something thin and flaky on the surface of the desert. It was as delicate as frost.

15 When the Israelites saw it, they didn’t know what it was and asked each other, “What is it?” Moses said to them, “This is the food that the Lord has given you to eat. 

This is the word of the Lord.

All:      Thanks be to God. 

Hymn – Guide me, O my great Jehovah

  1. Guide me, O my great Jehovah,
    pilgrim through this barren land;
    I am weak, but you are mighty;
    hold me with your powerful hand.
    Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
    feed me now and evermore,
    feed me now and evermore.

 

  1. Open now the crystal fountain,
    where the healing waters flow.
    Let the fire and cloudy pillar
    lead me all my journey through.
    Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
    ever be my strength and shield,
  2. ever be my strength and shield.

 

When I tread the verge of Jordan,

  1. 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 sing to you,
    I will ever sing to you.
     (by William Williams – 1717 to 1791) 

Here the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew Chap: 20

1 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a man who went out early in the morning to hire some men to work in his vineyard.

2 He agreed to pay them the regular wage, a silver coin a day, and sent them to work in his vineyard.

3 He went out again to the marketplace at nine o’clock and saw some men standing there doing nothing,

4 so he told them, “You also go and work in the vineyard, and I will pay you a fair wage.’

5 So they went. Then at twelve o’clock and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

6 It was nearly five o’clock when he went to the marketplace and saw some other men still standing there. “Why are you wasting the whole day here doing nothing?’ he asked them.

7 “No one hired us,’ they answered. “Well, then, you go and work in the vineyard,’ he told them.

8 “When evening came, the owner told his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with those who were hired last and ending with those who were hired first.’

9 The men who had begun to work at five o’clock were paid a silver coin each.

10 So when the men who were the first to be hired came to be paid, they thought they would get more; but they too were given a silver coin each.

11 They took their money and started grumbling against the employer.

12 “These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, “while we put up with a whole day’s work in the hot sun – yet you paid them the same as you paid us!’

13 “Listen, friend,’ the owner answered one of them, “I have not cheated you. After all, you agreed to do a day’s work for one silver coin.

14 Now take your pay and go home. I want to give this man who was hired last as much as I gave you.

15 Don’t I have the right to do as I wish with my own money? Or are you jealous because I am generous?’ ”

16 And Jesus concluded, “So those who are last will be first, and those who are first will be last.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord. 

All:       Praise to you, O Christ. 

Sermon 

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

It’s not fair!

I wonder if that’s your initial reaction to the parable of ‘the workers in the Vineyard’?

It might depend on who you identify with in the story?

The workers who came first or the ones who came last?

The landowner, or the manager?

It’s a strange situation isn’t it?

It leaves me feeling that something isn’t fair because I identify with the workers who put in a full day’s work and ended up with the same pay as those who only did an hour. I’m totally with them in their complaint.

The only reason the landowner could have had for dishing out the pay in reverse order was to make sure those who’d been there all day saw that he paid everyone the same.  It feels a bit like he’s rubbing it in.

Let’s have a closer look.

  1. Matthew places this parable between two incidents where the disciples ask about rewards for giving up everything to follow Jesus. Just before the parable Peter has asked what the disciples who have left everything for Jesus will receive, to which Jesus promises ‘a hundredfold’, but many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.  After the parable the mother of James and John asks if they can sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when he comes into his kingdom- but Jesus  reminds them that whoever would be great amongst them must be a servant of all Because Jesus, the Son of Man, did not come to be served, but to serve.

Matthew bookends the parable with these incidents, so perhaps we should use the idea of the first being last and the last first as a key to unlocking the meaning of the story.

  1. This story involves day workers, day labourers were the cheapest way of getting agricultural help. The day labourers mentioned in the parable were, arguably, among the worst-off members of ancient society. Slaves were the property of their master and it would be a bad investment to allow them to starve to death; day labourers had a precarious existence with no guarantee of work from day to day. They were so badly off that Old Testament law required them to be paid each day at sunset (see Leviticus 19.13 and Deuteronomy 24.14–15) because they needed the money in order to survive.  The wage of one denarius was just enough to survive, a subsistence wage. Each day the day labourers would line up in the market square in the hope that employers would give them work. The parable hints at the labourers’ desperation by pointing out that they were still there, waiting and available for hire, towards the end of the working day when all hope of work would normally have dried up.  If this parable is about generosity, it’s at a subsistence level.

Some commentators say that this parable is about God’s generosity towards sinners -which is the same no matter whether they converted on their deathbed or were lifelong Christians.

While this is a possible interpretation, the problem with it is that the ‘generosity’ shown in this parable was very limited indeed – what was offered was no more than subsistence-level wages – and the workers did in fact deserve the wages they received in a way that ‘sinners’ do not. Grace is entirely undeserved and has not been worked for – even a little bit.

So I want us to explore some possible different interpretations.

First it tells us something about justice.

Justice and generosity are surely hallmarks of the kingdom, but it is a particular kind of justice and one with which we struggle instinctively. Every fibre of our being cries out that fairness is comparative, and that I will know whether something is fair if I compare it to what you have and, according to my own rules, decide that it is comparable. This parable throws such ideas into the air and establishes a different definition of fairness. If person A agrees something with person B and then gives them what was agreed, the justice of that is not undermined by person A choosing to be more generous to person C. Justice is not diminished by generosity.

The justice lies in the fact that each person earned enough to live on. If those hired at the end of the day had been paid an hourly wage they would not have earned enough to survive that day. In some ways this parable might be best called ‘the parable of not comparing yourself with others’. The actions of the landowner were only deemed to be unfair when the situations of the workers hired at different times of day were compared – if the situations had remained confidential, everyone would have thought they were treated entirely fairly.

It is possible that the landowner is not God and the workers are not sinners. Instead, the point may simply be that the rules of the kingdom will almost certainly appear odd and incomprehensible to us.

  • We may disagree with who is welcome in the kingdom.
  • We may think that others are undeserving of the good things they receive.
  • We may wonder why they were included.
  • We may struggle to comprehend what the rules are at all. But the point is that we do not need to judge or to understand.

Just as the landowner can make his own rules, which he negotiated with each worker in turn, so the rules of the kingdom invite each one of us in, but do not ask for our judgement on who else should be welcome and why.

The landowner had his own rules, which he applied justly in each case, even though this seemed unfair to others. In the same way, we cannot hope to wrap our minds around the rules of the kingdom. We simply have to trust that the kingdom’s rules will be just and generous to others as well as to us.

So lot’s to think about.

What do you make of Justice, fairness and generosity in the light of this parable?

Are there circumstances that you deem to be unfair when you compare you lot in life to others?

How is this parable helpful, if we rename it ‘the parable of not comparing yourself with others’?

Let’s take a moment to be honest with God about those things which have happened to us which we see as unfair when we compare our life to others.  Ask God to help us to recognise God’s justice and generosity and to avoid comparing ourselves with others.

Some ideas have been borrowed from ‘The Parables’ by Paula Gooder

Amen 

We say together

The Creed

Let us declare our faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

All:      I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen.

Prayers of Intercession 

During the intercession this response is used:

Lord, in your mercy

All:       Hear our prayer.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith

Strengthen Christopher our bishop and all your Church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Bless and guide Charles our King; give wisdom to all in authority; and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace; that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.

Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours, that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles and bring them the joy of your salvation.

Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of

Christ……; according to your promises,

grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of St. Laurence, St. John, and all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.

Merciful Father,

All:      Accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Heavenly Father,

you have promised through your Son Jesus Christ, that when we meet in his name, and pray according to his mind, he will be among us and hear our prayer: m your love and mercy fulfil our desires, and give us your greatest gift, which is to know you, the only true God, and your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:      Amen. 

Hymn – You are the Vine 

(Sung Twice) 

The Eucharistic Prayer 

The Lord is here.

All:      His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts,

All:       We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

All:      It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is indeed right,

it is our duty and our joy,

at all times and in all places

to give you thanks and praise,

holy Father, heavenly King,

almighty and eternal God,

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

For he is your living Word;

through him you have created all things from the beginning, and formed us in your own image. 

All:       To you be glory and praise for ever.

Through him you have freed us from the slavery of sin, giving him to be born of a woman and to die upon the cross;

You raised him from the dead and exalted him to your right hand on high. 

All:       To you be glory and praise for ever.

Through him you nave sent upon us your holy and life-giving Spirit, and made us a people for your own possession. 

All:       To you be glory and praise for ever.

Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, for ever praising you and saying: 

All:       Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

 

Accept our praises, heavenly Father,

through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,

and as we follow his example and obey his command,

grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit

these gifts of bread and wine

may be to us his body and his blood;

who, in the same night that he was betrayed,

took bread and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup and gave you thanks; he gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

All:      To you be glory and praise for ever.

Therefore, heavenly Father, we remember his offering of himself made once for all upon the cross; we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; we look for the coming of your kingdom, and with this bread and this cup

we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord. 

All:       Christ has died: Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Accept through him, our great high priest, this our sacrifice of thanks and praise, and as we eat and drink these holy gifts in the presence of your divine majesty, renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your love and unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

All:      To you be glory and praise for ever.

Through him, and with him, and in him, m the unity of the Holy Spirit,

with all who stand before you in earth and heaven, we worship you, Father almighty, in songs of everlasting praise; 

All:      Blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever.

Amen.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us 

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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

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.

Breaking of the Bread 

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ. 

All:       Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.

All:      Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world.

Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,

Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,

Grant us peace.

Giving of Communion

Draw near with faith

Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ

which he gave for you,

and his blood which he shed for you-

Eat and drink

in remembrance that he died for you,

and feed on him in your hearts

by faith with thanksgiving.

Amen

We say together the –

Post Communion

All: Almighty God,

you have taught us through your Son

that love is the fulfilling of the law:

grant that we may love you with our whole heart

and our neighbours as ourselves;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

The Blessing

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of Cod, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.

All:      Amen.

Hymn is – Go, Tell Us on the Mountain,  

Final Prayers and the Dismissal

Go in faith to love the Lord.

All: In the Name of Christ

Amen

© 702211