The readings for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (20 September 2020) are Exodus 16:2-15 and Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30 and Matthew 20:1-16.
The main reading is from Exodus, as we continue our series looking at important stories from Genesis and Exodus. Rev. Geoff McKee discusses lessons we can learn from famines throughout history: the Israelites starving in the desert in Exodus; the Irish Potato Famine of the mid-19th century; and how a looming famine in Poland after the First World War was averted.
The Lectionary scriptures, prayers, audio sermon and musical choice for this week are set out, below, for you. Thanks to Moray’s Great Places website for the header/body image used for this post. But first, an intimation.
The Blythswood Shoebox Appeal is still going ahead this year.
The leaflets are now available for anyone who feels they would like to donate a shoebox to support this annual Christmas project that will bring joy to many people in need across Eastern Europe.
The schedule for drop off and collection is not ready yet but shoeboxes should be ready for end October, and we will let you know further details later.
Please contact us via this website for a leaflet.
Exodus 16:2-15 (New International Version)
2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’”
10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.
1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
5 Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
6 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold,
and from among their tribes no one faltered.
38 Egypt was glad when they left,
because dread of Israel had fallen on them.
39 He spread out a cloud as a covering,
and a fire to give light at night.
40 They asked, and he brought them quail;
he fed them well with the bread of heaven.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed like a river in the desert.
42 For he remembered his holy promise
given to his servant Abraham.
43 He brought out his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
44 he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—
45 that they might keep his precepts
and observe his laws.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Life Worthy of the Gospel
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
To the Lord belong the earth and everything in it, the world and all its inhabitants. Psalm 24: 1
Lord God, we thank you that you always listen even when our voices are less than joyful. We thank you that you still wait for us even when we dawdle or drag our feet. We thank you that your generosity always overflows even when we are grudging of its bounty to others. Lord God, we thank you that you are always, and completely, yourself and that your love is therefore never limited by our smallness.
God of challenge and change the stories from your word show us how great the gap can sometimes be between divine and human economies. Forgive us when we have let attachment to our own comfort and convenience deter us from committing to the costly transitions necessary for the wellbeing of our planet and the flourishing of all its inhabitants.
God of compassion and concern the stories from your word show us how great the gap can sometimes be between divine and human tenderness. Forgive us when we have let attachment to our own understandings of justice and righteousness deter us from following the discomforting paths necessary for the wellbeing of our planet and the flourishing of all its inhabitants.
God of generosity and grace the stories of your Word show us how great the gap can sometimes be between divine and human understanding. Forgive us when we have let attachment to our own sense of hierarchy and entitlement deter us from making the difficult shifts necessary for the wellbeing of our planet and the flourishing of all its inhabitants.
Lord God, out of your compassion for our weakness and concern for our wellbeing give us confidence in the generosity of your forgiveness. Out of the liberality of your grace help us, as we begin again, to grow into the courage, love, and understanding which are the hallmarks of your Kingdom, and to live in ways which will help to make this world a place where all life can flourish.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
Holy God, who hears our cries and pities our groans, you are ever faithful. We come to you with our petitions for ourselves and our community.
For our church and its leaders—that they be of open mind and open heart, that they might be the Christian leaders you have called them to be and that the church might be an instrument of love, justice, and peace.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For our country and global community—that all may be peaceful, fair, and respectful of all peoples no matter the religion, colour, gender, or kind of government.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
For our local community—seeking to support those in need through these challenging times.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
For those who are overlooked in our society—the poor, the young, the old, the bereaved, and the oppressed—help us to see them and to be with them.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
For the special intentions that we hold in our hearts.
[A time of silence is kept.]
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Gracious and loving God, we know that you hear us and are always with us, and we thank you in Jesus’ name who taught us to pray together……
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
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
What a friend we have in Jesus.
The lyrics to this hymn, which is a favourite of so many, were written by Joseph Scriven in 1855. It was set to music in 1868 by Charles Converse.
Scriven was born in Ireland and later moved to Canada. He suffered many tragedies throughout his life and, it is said, he wrote this hymn to comfort his mother back in Ireland.The lyrics emphasise and remind us what a blessing it is to to be able to pray and hand over all our worries and concerns to the Lord, knowing we can trust Him to guide us and remove all our burdens.
It’s the best feeling ever when our worries are lifted from within us and Christ becomes firmly anchored in the centre of our lives!
Image credit: From Moray’s Great Places website. Thank you!