Morning Worship for 20th September 20204 days ago
As you begin this act of worship remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with you in worship. If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the hymns and join in the singing. As you go through this time of worship try to remember this reality; you are in the presence of God who holds us all in His care and keeping.
We come in this service to God, In our need, and bringing with us the needs of the world. We come to God, who has come to us in Jesus, And who walks with us the road of our worlds suffering. We come with our faith and with our doubts; We come with our hopes and with our fears. We come as we are, because it is God who invites us to come, And God has promised never to turn us away.
The Iona Community Worship Book 1991
Collect for the day:
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit Upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: Grant that your people may be fervent In the fellowship of the Gospel that, Always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith And active in service, 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. Amen.
Our Declaration of faith
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. Ascribe to the Lord, glory and strength; Ascribe to the Lord, the honour due to his name. The whole earth is full of his glory. The Lord shall give strength to his people; The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory.
Hymn: Bread of Heaven, on thee we feed.
Readings: Jonah 3:10-4:11, Philippians 1:21-30.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 20:1-16
Generosity, struggle and a yearning to be with Jesus.
These are the three key themes we are presented with today, and all three interconnect with one another.
We begin with that glorious reading of a very grumpy and unhappy Jonah, yearning for something to ease his suffering which the Lord duly provided and then angry that he then lost it so quickly. In a period of great discomfort the Lord provided him with shade and then overnight he took it away again. Jonah once again complains and that is when the Lord teaches. The generosity of God is so great that it cannot be made in a night nor does it depart in one. A bush can come and grow and be a real blessing and the loss of it for Jonah was considerably difficult for him to bear, but at the end of the day it is just a bush. Hence the reason why the Lord preserves the city of Ninevah, despite its iniquities it has potential and cannot simply be destroyed or discarded from God’s mercy.
This awareness of the need to preserve great numbers of people and animals is something which has become so important to us all at this time. We are doing our best to preserve so many from the onslaught of this terrible pandemic right across the world, and yet at the same time we are slowly realising that there is another great threat looming over us and that is the extinction of so many habitats from the natural world, with the result that so many of God’s creatures are disappearing at a rapid rate. It is heart-breaking to see so much devastation, with forests being destroyed, ice shelfs breaking apart whilst at the same time devastating fires in America and Australia are sweeping destruction upon so may. We can see the desperation in the eyes of so many people and so many of God’s creatures and yet unless we stop, rethink, re-prioritise it will be too late for so many of them.
There is therefore a requirement for a change of heart from each one of us as we look at the way in which we consume the natural resources of our world. Time to rethink and to re-prioritise.
That is exactly the message given to Jonah, to look beyond the immediate and to seek to be creative, forgiving and to think more on restoration than on destruction.
We then move on to that reading from Philippians, where Paul is torn between fruitful labour in the here and now or the glory that awaits him in the Kingdom of God. He yearns to be with Jesus and yet he knows that he has been called to stay, to labour, to teach and encourage, he is struggling personally facing his own hardships and he is torn spiritually between doing the Lord’s will and being with his master. It is this aspect of personal suffering which again hits home to us today, when so many are facing their own struggles and the huge demands that life and Covid are placing upon them. Suffering is at such a level that it is easy to understand how people today can be a bit like Jonah and a bit like St. Paul, quick to blame and to complain and torn apart inwardly unsure of the direction to take in life, what is best where do we turn how can we make sense of everything that is currently placed before us, life is such a struggle, on what can we truly depend, where will we draw our comfort from?
Then we receive the blessing of Gods generosity and mercy, the Gospel story is truly amazing, it takes us from the simple activity of hiring a few labourers to work in the vineyard to full awareness of the generosity of God.
This story seems strange to us at times as we are not that familiar with the way that people are hired for labour. In the days of Jesus labourers would simply gather together in the market place and some would then be hired whilst others would not.
Indeed in many parts of the world this is still the daily routine of many, and that is sadly often still the case for some people even within our own society. Resulting of course with the inevitable outcome that their families struggle and go hungry.
I guess in the fields which surround us today there will be some who gain work whilst there are others who sadly will not. The generosity of the farmer can only extend to those whom she or he needs to do the work that is required, it would be counter- productive to hire more people than were really needed. But in this beautiful story, Jesus reminds us that God’s generosity knows no boundaries it is continuous and given equally to all his children.
Once again from a human perspective the labourers who toiled under the heat of the sun all day are like Jonah, quick to complain about their lot, and to look immediately on the unfairness in human terms of the wages which were given to those who had only laboured for an hour. Here the teaching of Jesus hits hard at home, once again, it is a reminder that we must change the way in which we approach our lives.
We are called to abandon self- gain, and not to constantly complain about our sufferings. We are called by Jesus to be like the landowner who recognised the need to give a good days pay to everyone, because that is what they would take back to their wives and families. Life is not about the acquisition of material things nor about an excess of financial security, it is surely more about being grateful that we have a secure place to rest, enough food to eat and a little left over to help others.
We are called by Jesus to be like the landowner to be generous in our dealings with others, we are called not to destroy God’s holy mountain but to preserve and care for it, and we are also called to care for everything that the Lord God has created, for the Lord God looked down on all that he had done and he saw that it was good.
Keep, O Lord your Church, with your perpetual mercy; and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall, keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation.
Thanks be to God.
Hymn: King of glory king of peace.
Prayers for others:
This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.
We come boldly to the throne of grace, Praying to the almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for mercy and grace. Heavenly Father, we pray today for your Church as it seeks to respond afresh to your call in the world. We pray for all faithful communities that, their Congregations and the Communities for whom they pray may rejoice being together in your name in a safe and secure way. We pray at this troubled time for patience and calm within our communities, and as we recall the generosity of the landowner help us to be generous toward others, to seek to ensure that all your people are given the help they need to prosper, praying especially for all those who are especially vulnerable within our communities and throughout the wider world. We pray for those communities suffering from the Coronavirus where there is a lack of resources to care for them and for all within our own communities as we see the threat of a further increase of the pandemic in our midst. Father hear us as we continue to pray for the NHS with all the pressures and strains still upon it, that they would receive all the protection they need, and that they would experience your protection in their work, find courage for each day and stamina to care for all those who are so dependent upon them. For the sick and vulnerable that they would receive the care they need in their hour of weakness. For the lonely in our parishes, that they would know God’s presence in their solitude and receive a friendly call from their neighbours. For those in authority charged with leading the fight against the virus: for our Prime Minister and his Ministers, for Scientists working on vaccines and other means of fighting the infection. We pray also for those charged with ensuring that the law is upheld and that we continue to show concern for others in the way in which we live our lives. We pray especially at this time for all who are separated from wider aspects of family life. For those struggling with ill health of whatever kind, that they may find strength and solace through their faith in you. Bringing before you at this time those whom have asked for our prayers. Finally Father we pray for all who have lost loved ones throughout this troubled time, as they struggle with loss and the restrictions placed upon them in saying their last farewells, may they find that inner peace which comes through faith and so be comforted by your presence with them.
And so we pray
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn: Guide me O thou great Redeemer.
A Song of Peace:
Spirit of God, teach us your ways, That we may walk in the way of peace. Come, let us go up to the mountain of God, To the house of the God of Jacob. That God may teach us his ways, And that we may walk in his paths. For the law shall go out from Zion, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. God shall mediate between the nations, And shall judge for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, And their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more. O people of Jacob, come: Let us walk in the light of the Lord. Spirit of God, teach us your ways, That we may walk in the way of peace.
God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love, Defend you on every side, And guide you in truth and peace; And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.