Sunday Service for 20th September 2020

With Grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden

Pentecost 16  September 20th   2020

“Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  (Phil. 1:27)

Preparation:  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

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God 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.       Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away
the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.  Amen

Collect:   Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth, and ourselves in your image.  Teach us to discern your hand in all your works and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reading:    Philippians 1:21-30
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 
I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Gospel:  Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus said, ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. 
When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.”  He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” 
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 
Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” 
But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I

not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

As the end of the UK furlough scheme approaches, we may wonder how those who have worked ‘as normal’ since March may feel about those paid to stay at home and not work.  It’s tempting to feel envious of others whose lot seems to be better than ours, whether it’s to do with work, health, relationships or just general quality of life.

Jesus described a situation in which some labourers in the vineyard thought that they had been given a raw deal when others who had worked for only a fraction of the day received the same wage as them.
The landowner said, “Are you envious because I am generous?”  The original text reads, “Is your eye evil because I am good?”

Jesus and his contemporaries thought that sight comes from the light within the body, which is sent out when you look at someone or something.  Hence the idea that looking with envy or malice sends out a curse – the ‘evil eye’.  He said (Matt. 6:22-23) that the eye is the lamp of the body, full of moral light or darkness.  Looking with envy at someone would thus be sending out evil, stirring a response of anger or worry in others and damaging relationships. 

In any case, we rarely know what life is really like for others, and the so-called ‘idle’ labourers may have been trying all day to find work somewhere, fearful that their families would starve if they failed. But the landowner was imaginative enough about their situation to have compassion on them, paying them what they needed to live.

For Jesus, that generous landowner was God, who knows us through and through and gives us all the grace and love we need in our particular situation.  The Kingdom of Heaven comes on earth when we are confident enough in God’s love for us that we have no need to be envious or stingy at all.

Heavenly Father, we hold before you all who work, often in difficult situations, and at this time with great uncertainty.  We remember those who have lost their jobs or fear that they will, and who worry about their responsibilities. Guide with compassion all who seek to support and direct them, and dispel the prejudices that hinder them.
Lord graciously hear us.

May your healing presence rest on those who have heavy burdens to bear:  the pain of illness and disability; the sadness of loss and bereavement;  the fear of repression and prejudice; the dark valleys of the soul in these troubled times.
Lord graciously hear us.

Send your grace upon your Church as we try to proclaim our faith and hope when so much of our congregational life is constrained.  Help us to notice the beauty of your world and to rejoice in your steadfast love.  Teach us the wisdom that it is only in losing ourselves in service that we truly find ourselves.   Help us to ‘ live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’, loving others as you love us.
Lord graciously hear us.

Bless Bishop Ian, and all the congregations of this diocese, those who worship at home and those who can attend services in person.  We give you thanks for the privilege of our spiritual freedom and remember those who live in fear persecution for their faith.
Lord graciously hear us.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the power of the Spirit and in the name of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and
set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer:    Christ the lowly and meek, Christ the all-powerful,
                                            be in the heart of each to whom I speak,
                                             in the mouth of each who speaks to me,
                                    in all who draw near to me, or see me, or hear me.

Romanian grape- pickers