Worship Outline and Sermon

Time after Pentecost -

September 20, 2020


Service of the Word

Introduction to the day

Matthew narrates one of Jesus’ controversial parables in which Jesus says that the reign of God is like that of a landowner who pays his workers the same wage no matter what time of day they began to work. When God changes God’s mind about punishing Nineveh for their evil ways, Jonah is angry. Yet God is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. In baptism we receive the grace of God that is freely given to all. As Martin Luther wrote, in the presence of God’s mercy we are all beggars.

Prelude

Welcome

Thanksgiving for Baptism

In the name of the Father,

and of the ☩ Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism,

we are clothed with God's mercy and forgiveness.

Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.

We give you thanks, O God,

for in the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters

and by your Word you created the world,

calling forth life in which you took delight.

Through the waters of the flood you delivered Noah and his family.

Through the sea you led your people Israel from slavery into freedom.

At the river your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit.

By water and your Word you claim us as daughters and sons,

making us heirs of your promise and servants of all.

We praise you for the gift of water that sustains life,

and above all we praise you for the gift of new life in Jesus Christ.

Shower us with your Spirit,

and renew our lives with your forgiveness, grace, and love.

To you be given honor and praise

through Jesus Christ our Lord

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Gathering Hymn All Creatures, Worship God Most High! (ELW 835)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI1C67W-t3A

All creatures, worship God most high!

Sound ev’ry voice in earth and sky:

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Sing, brother sun, in splendour bright;

Sing, sister moon and stars of night:

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Sing, brother wind; with clouds of rain

You grow the gifts of fruit and grain:

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear sister water, useful, clear,

Make music for your Lord to hear:

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

(St. 1-2. Text: Francis of Assisi; tr. composite. Music: ‘Geistliche Kirchensänge’, Köln; Text: © 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)

Greeting

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,

and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

And also with you.

Peace

The peace of Christ be with you always.

And also with you.

(Those in the assembly may share a gesture of peace.)

Canticle of Praise Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia (ELW 364)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDSwekQC-RA

Christ has arisen, alleluia.

Rejoice and praise him, alleluia.

For our redeemer burst from the tomb,

Even from death, dispelling its gloom.

Let us sing praise to him with endless joy.

Death’s fearful sting he has come to destroy.

Our sin forgiving, alleluia!

Jesus is living, alleluia!

(St. 1. Text: Bernard Kyamanywa; tr. Howard S. Olson. Music: Tanzanian traditional. Tr. © 1977 Howard S. Olson, admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net # A-714392. All rights reserved.)

Prayer of the Day

Let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants. Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, grant us your merciful judgment, and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading: Jonah 3:10--4:11

A reading from Jonah.

After Jonah’s short sermon in 3:4, the Ninevites all repented and God decided to spare the city. Jonah objected to this and became even angrier when God ordered a worm to destroy a plant that was providing shade. The book ends with a question that challenges any who are not ready to forgive: You, Jonah, are all worked up about a bush, but shouldn’t I be concerned about a hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites?

10When God saw what [the people of Ninevah] did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

4:1But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

6The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

9But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Hymn O Master, Let Me Walk with You (ELW 818)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II7yqlyGdPY

O Master, let me walk with you

In lowly paths of service true;

Tell me your secret; help me bear

The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move

By some clear winning word of love;

Teach me the wayward feet to stay,

And guide them in the homeward way.

(St. 1-2. Text: Washington Gladden, alt. Music: H. Percy Smith. Public Domain.)

Second Reading: Philippians 1:21-30

A reading from Philippians.

Paul writes to the Philippians from prison. Though he is uncertain about the outcome of his imprisonment, he is committed to the ministry of the gospel and calls on the Philippians to live lives that reflect and enhance the gospel mission.

21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

27Only, 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, 28and 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. 29For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Open our hearts, O Lord, to give heed to what is said by your Son. Alleluia.

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

The holy gospel according to Matthew.

Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus tells a parable about God’s generosity, challenging the common assumption that God rewards people according to what they have earned or deserve.

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And 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?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘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.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon - 'All The Same?' - Pastor Matthew

Hymn of the Day “Let the Whole Creation Cry” (ELW 876)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOXUsdsKi4k

Let the whole creation cry,

“Glory to the Lord on high!”

Heav’n and earth, awake and sing,

“Praise to our almighty king!”

Praise God, angel hosts above,

Ever bright and fair in love;

Sun and moon lift up your voice;

Night and stars in God rejoice.

Servants striving for the Lord,

Prophets burning with the word,

Those to whom the arts belong

Add their voices to the song.

Pow’rs of knowledge and of law,

To the glorious circle draw;

All who work and all who wait,

Sing, “The Lord is good and great!”

(St. 1-2. Text: Stopford A. Brooke, alt. Music: Jakob Hinze, arr. Johann Sebastian Bach, adapt. Public Domain.)

Prayers of Intercession

Drawn together in the compassion of God, we pray for the church, the world, and all those in need.

Generous God, you make the last first, and the first last. Where this gospel challenges the church, equip it for its works of service. Strengthen those who suffer for Christ. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Sun and wind, bushes and bugs, moose and great cities—nothing in creation is outside your concern, mighty God. In your mercy, tend to it all. Give us a spirit of generosity toward all you have made. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Where we find envy and create enemies, you provide enough for all. Bring peace to places of conflict and violence. Inspire leaders with creativity and wisdom. Bless the work of negotiators, peacekeepers, and development workers. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Reveal yourself to all in need as you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, ready to relent from punishing. Accompany judges and lawyers, victims of crime and those serving sentences. Give fruitful labor and a livelihood to those seeking work. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Even beyond our expectations, you choose to give generously. Grant life, health, and courage to all who are in need, including those who have asked for our prayers…Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You promise to listen to our prayers, even when we cannot find the words. Listen now to our silent prayers for others and ourselves…Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We praise you for the generations that have declared your power to us. Give us faithfulness to follow them, living for Christ, until you call us to join them in the joyful song around his throne. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

All these things and whatever else you see that we need, we entrust to your mercy; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

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,

and the power, and the glory,

forever and ever. Amen.


Offering Prayer

Let us pray.

God of mercy and grace, the eyes of all wait upon you, and you open your hand in blessing. Fill us with good things, that we may come to the help of all in need, through Jesus Christ, our redeemer and Lord.

Amen.

Announcements

Blessing

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord’s face shine on you with grace and mercy.

The Lord look upon you with favor and ☩ give you peace.

Amen.

Sending Hymn “This Is My Father’s World” (ELW 824)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giCX2FB7LJ4

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings,

And round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world;

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees,

Of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world;

The birds their carols raise;

The morning light,

The lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world;

He shines in all that’s fair.

In the rustling grass

I hear him pass;

He speaks to me ev’rywhere.

(St. 1-2. Text: Malthie D. Babcock. Music: Franklin L. Sheppard, adapt. Public domain.)

Dismissal

Go in peace. Share the good news.

Thanks be to God.

From sundaysandseasons.com. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Sermon - September 20, 2020:

Pastor Matthew

Text: Matthew 20:15

Our reading from Matthew informs us that arguments about wages, about what one’s work is worth, are nothing new. In Jesus’ parable, the employer decides to pay all his workers the same daily wage. This causes immediate uproar from those who have worked the most. The landowner has lost his sense of how things work. It’s not fair that those who have toiled least in the sun should get the same. If that’s so, the first hired deserve unexpected bonus pay for all their extra efforts. Yet, the owner will not budge. What he has promised, he has delivered. They have no reason to be upset.

Because of this attitude, down through the centuries those arguing for living and fair wages have often taken great offense at this parable. Meanwhile, those not so keen on giving into workers have found a welcome model in the owner’s steadfastness. Still, Jesus isn’t sharing this with us in order to teach us a lesson in economics or employer-employee relationships. Instead, as with all parables, he uses its situation to teach us a greater lesson. He tells us about God’s grace. It is not given out like the world works, based on how much we work to earn it. In contrast, Creator chooses to share this gift based on generosity. This is good news for all people, including you and me.

One of the early discussions after the pandemic hit centred on a heightened awareness of the risks being taken by essential workers. Signs appeared, applauding their courage. On social media, many prayers asked God for their safety and health. Our oldest daughter, working in the ER at the Regional, told how food would be delivered as thanks. In many places, sounds of bells, car horns, and noise makers serenaded those leaving shifts. At stores I took time to say hello to the workers, especially those international students now stranded in Canada. Essential workers, many times taken for granted, were part of the centre of society’s concern.

For some years, there have been campaigns to increase the minimum daily wage that many of these people earn. This time, in the food sector companies seemed to listen, adding pandemic pay to often low wages, especially for casual, part-time employees. This received much applause. It felt right, especially as we tried to stockpile toilet paper, cleaning products, baking supplies, and comfort food.

However, after a few months the same corporations decided to roll back the pay levels. The pandemic, they argued, was under control. Their profit margins were so tight they could not afford it. They had never promised this would last. Initially there was great hue and cry made about the injustice of this. Opponents claimed that it meant a return to low wages in a time of continuing great uncertainty and danger. Those in favour sided with the reality of a devastated economy, and of the need for things to go back to the way they had been. Some argued that those employed should be thankful for having any kind of job and any level of wage. Caught in the middle were those who needed to keep working in the stores, no matter what the level of pay, and no matter if in places the second wave of COVID seemed to be forming. The rewards for their essential services quickly faded away, and so did the voices, pro and con.

Similarly, when we hear about God’s grace extending to all people equally, at first it might seem great, especially for us. However, when we stop and think about it, we can begin to wonder, ‘Why are they getting the same divine favour I’m getting? God knows, I’ve been much more faithful. I’ve tried to live by Jesus’ commandments, and have tried to reject those forces that encourage me to do otherwise. Part of my time is dedicated to helping others. I take regular, or at least, occasional, time for prayer. Support of the church and charities is part of my budget. I mean, I’ve even listened to Pastor Matthew’s sermons and stayed awake! Yet, those other people – you know who they are – why should they get anything from God? They’ve spent all their time rejecting God’s message, looking after themselves, and taking it easy. They don’t deserve anything that good. If God is going to offer them grace, then I want something more. I want my life of faith to pay off, to earn me some rewards.’

This is the scenario that causes Jonah so much grief in our first reading. God has told him to go to Nineveh and to declare that it must repent or that the Creator will destroy it. Miracle of miracles, the citizens listen and God lets them live. This makes Jonah so angry that he prays to God, ‘And now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ The Ninevites don’t deserve a second chance. Next, Jonah is so sure God will go through with the original plan that he goes and set up a place in the shade, ‘waiting to see what will become of the city’.

Yet the parable reminds us that God didn’t come to earth in Christ to reinforce the way things were, or to bring back the old normal. The good news is whether we see ourselves as the most faithful workers, those closest to Jesus’ side, or whether we can hardly discern the path, the journey of faith on which God Spirit seeks to lead us, the message is the same. Just as Jonah understood God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. God is the One who is not only concerned about those who believe they have it all together, but, as the Ninevites, those who ‘don’t know their right hand from their left’. In Christ, our sins have been forgiven, new life has been promised, and the gift of grace has been offered. No matter how the world views us, no matter how we view ourselves, God comes to us and invites us to live in relationship, to be renewed in love, and to work for justice, perceiving a new way of seeing the world.

The beloved song might begin, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. However, today, we might sing, ‘God loves me and you, this we know, and we want the world to know’. Going out in peace, we share this gift of grace in our words, our actions, and our thanks to God.

Amen.