2nd August 2020
Online Sunday Service
How has your week been? Things seem to be getting back to some sort of ‘normality’ now but caution is still the best policy for now – we’re not out of the woods just yet.
It is sad how some have been severely effected by this awful virus – businesses closed down, jobs lost, loved ones isolated from us and dear ones have passed away.
And yet others have got through these past few months relatively unscathed.
Life is not fair is it?
Today’s Parable reminds us of that – life, it seems, is not fair.
But before that –
Let us pray together ~
Heavenly Father, we come here to worship you – to meet with our church family and to sing our praises to you. We come to hear your word to us and to talk to you in our prayers. We come as your family, your children, looking to you for help, support – we come seeking answers to life’s big questions – why are we here ? – what are we to do ? – what is it that you want of us ? Questions which only you have answers for – answers which are here for us in your Holy writings – if we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see them.
Guide us Lord, help us to respond to all that you teach us – and then we might know the glory and the joy which awaits us – which awaits all people who answer your call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as we travel this road of life…..
Loving father – we worship and adore you – we praise you for all that you are and all that you do……….. we praise you for being the great and awesome God who created all things – and for the way you continue to re-create life each day……………… and we praise you that for all your greatness – we can still call you ‘Our Father’……….
Lord, we praise you for the way you can take the ordinary things
and make them new;
you are able to take ordinary lives,
lived by ordinary people, just like us, and fill them with meaning.
We praise you for your promise of joy and your offer of peace
that can utterly transform how we live and respond.
We praise you for Jesus, who walked a hard path through his life;
for the way he shared in the hopes and the fears of those around him;
for the way he shares in the hopes and the fears of each one of us………
We praise you for the way Christ touches and changes the whole of life.
He opens our eyes to the wonder of your creation and our ears to the songs of your love.
He opens our lips to praise you for his coming, living, dying and rising.
He opens our hearts to receive him and to be filled with his life-transforming Spirit.
Lord, there is no God like you, you are Lord of the whole of creation. The universe is not large enough to contain the praise we want to offer you. We praise you for Christ and that through Him we might be washed, cleansed and renewed – given life anew – life in all it’s fullness…….
Listening Lord, as we prepare ourselves for worship – we sit for a few moments to clear our minds of the events of the past week – we bring to you our sadnesses – our disappointments – our frustrations and our regrets – and so we pray that you will draw close to us as we confess that which we have said, done and thought – things that we are not proud of – things we pray you will forgive us for – in Jesus’ name……… so be with us Lord – in the peace of our silence……………
Merciful Lord – as undeserving as we are – we pray that you will forgive us, put our transgressions behind us and set us on a new path – in Jesus’ name.
Lord we know that you hear us when we pray in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – 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.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.
Our Reading today is taken from Matthew’s Gospel –
Matthew 20 : 1 – 16
Where we hear the ‘Parable of the Workers’ in the vineyard – it seems unjust – it seems unfair – but as with all parables of Jesus – you can be sure that there’s more to it than at first appears.
As you read it – you might like to think about what it is really saying to us, here – today
Matthew 20 : 1 – 16 from The Passion Translation
A Parable of Workers in the Vineyard
20 “This will help you understand the way heaven’s kingdom operates: “There once was a wealthy landowner who went out at daybreak to hire all the laborers he could find to work in his vineyard. 2 After agreeing to pay them the standard day’s wage, he put them to work. 3 Then at nine o’clock, as he was passing through the town square, he found others standing around without work. 4 He told them, ‘Come and work for me in my vineyard and I’ll pay you a fair wage.’ 5 So off they went to join the others. He did the same thing at noon and again at three o’clock, making the same arrangement as he did with the others.
6 “Hoping to finish his harvest that day, he went to the town square again at five o’clock[a] and found more who were idle. So he said to them, ‘Why have you been here all day without work?’
7 “‘Because no one hired us,’ they answered.
“So he said to them, ‘Then go and join my crew and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard went to his foreman and said, ‘Call in all the laborers, line them up, and pay them the same wages, starting with the most recent ones I hired and finishing with the ones who worked all day.’
9 “When those hired late in the day came to be paid, they were given a full day’s wage. 10 And when those who had been hired first came to be paid, they were convinced that they would receive more. But everyone was paid the standard wage. 11 When they realized what had happened, they were offended and complained to the landowner, saying, 12 ‘You’re treating us unfairly! They’ve only worked for one hour while we’ve slaved and sweated all day under the scorching sun. You’ve made them equal to us!’
13 “The landowner replied, ‘Friends, I’m not being unfair—I’m doing exactly what I said. Didn’t you agree to work for the standard wage? 14 If I want to give those who only worked for an hour equal pay, what does that matter to you?15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what is mine? Why should my generosity make you jealous of them?’[b]
16 “Now you can understand what I meant when I said that the first will end up last and the last will end up being first. Everyone is invited, but few are the chosen.”[c]
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God.
Are you an early bird in the mornings ~ up with the lark – “up and at ‘em” while everyone else is struggling to get their eyes open ?
Or are you slow to rise – bumbling around the house as you slowly re-gain consciousness ?
Do you get all your best work done in the morning ?
Or are you a ‘late person’ – only really coming alive as the day goes on ?
So, the question is – are you and early bird – or a late night owl ?
Of course, the trouble starts when we try to be both !
We are all different – we start work at different times of the day – a bit like those workers in the vineyard that we just heard about.
Some starting early – doing a full day, others got going about lunch time – while the last worker only got just got started when it was time to stop – yet all were paid the same – a days wages.
It hardly seems fair – and you can understand why those who worked the longest – complained the loudest !!
But what does all this mean ? – is it a story which tells us that life’s not fair ? – does it say that God is promoting an unjust practice? That is it okay to treat people unfairly ??
It might seem like that – on the surface.
But if we dig a bit deeper, look a bit closer – we see that it is a story which reminds us that Jesus has a great way of turning things upside down – of using everyday examples that we can understand and perhaps even identify with – to convey something far deeper to us….
If – we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
So – what does this story have to say to us – here – today ?
Well – first of all – we’re told that this story is a parable – and so we know that it’s a story with another meaning –
The first line of the passage says “the kingdom of God is ‘like’ a landowner who went out early in the morning..”
So then we know that’s it’s not really about workmen, a vineyard and an unjust landlord.
So what then, is it about ?? ~
Well – it’s about the world as it was – as it is now – and as it shall be.
Let me explain what I mean ~
Let’s look for a moment – at how the world was in the days of this parable.
There was very much a “them and us” society – the rich land owners – the Pharisees – the holy elite.
There were those and such as those – the master and the slave.
And there were the poor and the starving.
No social security – no benefits to help the worst off – no trade unions to represent the underdog – it was an unjust and unfair society.
Today – things may have moved on – but there are still many who live or die at the will of others – there are still poor and starving people in the world .
As much as we might not like to admit it – it is still a ‘them and us’ world.
Go to just about any country in the world ask one of the millions who live in abject poverty – in a hovel for a home – who have a daily struggle to feed their children – no income – no hope of a rosy future – in many cases – no hope for any kind of a future at all !!
Ask them – if it’s a fair and just society !??
That’s how the world was – and for many – too many – still is today.
But in that world of vineyards and workers – of jealously injustice and inequality – there was one – a vineyard owner – who was willing to go against the trend – and offer kindness, mercy and generosity to those who he called to labour for him.
The vineyard owner – of course – represents God – who’s ideals are far different from those of our society.
And that’s what I meant when I said that this parable is also about the world as it shall be –
In God’s kingdom – there will be no starving – no homeless – no injustice or unfairness……… no ‘them and us’ – only love, tranquillity and a peace beyond anything our human minds can ever understand – that’s what is meant by a ‘peace beyond our all human understanding’.
Life as it shall be – in God’s kingdom.
Everyone will be equal – no-one will be given more than anyone else – in god’s eternal kingdom.
God is faithful to those who are faithful to him. And that’ is an absolute promise..
In this parable – we see through the actions of the landowner – an incredible generosity.
He took on workers late in the day – and he paid them the same wage as those who had ben working all day ! –
No right mined businessman then – or today – would think of such a thing ! – it doesn’t make financial sense ! –
Those who worked all day received a fair days wage – but they felt that others – those who had come late in the day – should receive less.
That’s “human thinking” – not “god thinking”.
As unfair as it might seem to us – no-one was treated unfairly – no-one was underpaid.
The workers who had done a full days work – received a full days pay – as promised.
It’s just that the others were treated with ‘unexpected and undeserved generosity.
But you see – that’s what God’s kingdom is like.
God’s kindness, generosity and grace – is not limited to our idea of fairness……… His gifts are far beyond anything we can ever ask for or deserve.
As I said last week – he loves us all equally – no favourites – no ‘special cases’ – no extra brownie point for minister or “holy people” – each one of us is special in his eyes – and He rewards all equally.
This parable shows us that everyone who comes to Him – who puts their life – their trust – in His hands – will receive the same reward. No matter if you have had a strong faith for forty years – or a fortnight.
No matter if you are an old hand at this business of faith – or if you are just starting out on your journey of faith.
He loves those who search for him – as well as those who have already found him.
He loves those who are lost along the way – He offers you encouragement and the reassurance that the faith you once had – the faith you long for – is still there, waiting for you to return, rekindle and revitalize your life.
Giving you the hope and the promise of life here, in all it’s fullness – and life hereafter in all it’s glory.
No matter whether you’re a child or well past the ‘first flush of youth’ – this parable tells us that it’s never too early or too late to respond to God’s call – because everyone who turns to Him – no matter when – will receive all the wonderful promises he makes to us.
Love, care, compassion – 3 things we don’t hear much about in our ‘too busy’ society – but all there for you and for me – when we put our faith and our hope in your Saviour and mine – Jesus Christ.
How blessed we are!
And may God bless this preaching of His holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.
And now we come to our prayer of intercession – our prayer for those around the world who need a prayer at this time.
We think of the wars – the starving – those who are sad and those who are suffering.
And we pray for our loved ones….
So let us pray together ~
Father, we pray for the world – your creation.
You gave us responsibility for all that you have made. You entrusted every living creature into our care. But we have betrayed that trust and neglected our responsibility ~ we have allowed your good earth to become polluted by our greed, damaged by our selfishness and sucked dry by our materialism.
Father, by your holy spirit, give us a renewed urgency to fulfill the task you laid upon us.
Lord, hear my prayer.
Father, we pray for governments around the world; for those whose decisions will affect the whole of your creation;
For those who ignore the implications for future generations of the decisions they are making today; for the leaders of nations who are genuinely seeking to behave responsibly, to act justly and to be faithful stewards of your creation.
Lord, hear my prayer.
Father, we pray for ourselves.
We are your creation.
We acknowledge that we are wonderfully made.
We are capable of amazing acts of kindness, love and understanding.
Yet we also know our need of your healing, forgiving, transforming grace.
We ask you to touch our hearts with your love, our lives with your grace and our lips with your truth. Father, enable us so to live that others may live in you. Lord, empower us so to speak that others may glorify you.
Lord, hear my prayer.
Father, we pray for our families – those who are close to us – we pray that you will bless them and watch over them – keeping them close to you –
Father, draw close to us – as we sit together for a few silent moments – praying for those we love and care for – those who we keep in our prayers – be with us in the peace of our silence…………
take time to pray for your family and loved ones…and anyone you know who needs a prayer at this time………..……..
Lord, hear my prayer.
We know that the Lord hears our prayers both for others and for ourselves – because we pray in faith and in the name of our dear Jesus – your only Son, our only hope.
‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’
This morning we have been talking about God’s unexpected and undeserved generosity, kindness and love ~ and we might wonder why He does it – well – here a wee story ~
It’s about a wee girl called Sally……….. she was a lovely wee girl – always happy and smiling – and she just loved going to school so she could meet and blether to her friends……
She was just about big enough to walk to school on her own – which was just around the corner from her house – but her mum would still worry about her until she got safely home each afternoon.
But one day – the clouds grew darker and the rain began to fall – “thank goodness Sally took her umbrella with her today” her mum said to herself. School finished- but Sally was never coming home – the time went passed – and still no sign of Sally. The rain got worse – and then suddenly a rumble of thunder and a flash of lightening lit up the sky – “oh dear” she thought “Sally will be frightened of the storm – she’s probably hiding somewhere – I’d better go and find her”
And so Sally’s mum put on her coat and went out find Sally.
Just around the corner, Sally’s mother saw her little girl walking along with her umbrella, splashing in all the puddles.
But instead of being frightened – at each flash of lightning, Sally would stop, look up at the sky, and give a big smile.
Sally’s mother watched this routine repeat itself three times. Each lightning flash caused Sally to stop walking, look up at the sky, and smile. Finally, Sally’s mother called to her, “Sally, what on earth are you doing?”
Sally answered, “Don’t worry mum – I’m smiling. God keeps taking pictures of me.”
It’s been said that if God has a wallet, you can bet your picture is in it.
Each one of us special to God – that’s why he does all these wonderful, unexpected and undeserved things for us –
So the next time you’re in a storm of life, you might like to remember wee Sally – and smile – you never know – God might just be taking pictures of YOU !!
That is surely worth a smile, don’t you think?
What a comforting thought for us to ponder in these challenging times !!
Go with God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder, watching and guiding you in all you say and do..
And may the Blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you – your families and all whom you know and love and ought to love – this day – and every day.
May God bless you and all those you love.
Take care and God bless.
Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which
is Posted every Wednesday Morning.