This is the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (11 October 2020). Our theme is idolatry – and how, as Christians, we must avoid it.
The main scriptural reading comes from Exodus 32:1-14, which is the story of The Golden Calf – “an idol cast in the shape of a calf”. The other scriptures are: Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; and Matthew 22:1-14.
Below, you will also find prayers, Rev. Geoff McKee’s audio sermon and a musical selection chosen by Katherine Robertson.
Lectionary Scriptures for this week
Exodus 32:1-14 (New International Version)
The Golden Calf
32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favour of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
1 Praise the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord
or fully declare his praise?
3 Blessed are those who act justly,
who always do what is right.
4 Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people,
come to my aid when you save them,
5 that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may share in the joy of your nation
and join your inheritance in giving praise.
6 We have sinned, even as our ancestors did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
19 At Horeb they made a calf
and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
20 They exchanged their glorious God
for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
21 They forgot the God who saved them,
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 miracles in the land of Ham
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 So he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
to keep his wrath from destroying them.
Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity
4 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to remain in your courts. Grant us in abundance the bounty of your house. Psalm 65:4
Holy God, we worship you today. You are light, and in you there is no darkness at all. Shift our focus today from whatever is false to that which is true; from whatever is vulgar to that which is honourable; from whatever is corrupt to that which is just; from whatever is inauthentic to that which is pure; from whatever is detestable to that which is pleasing; from whatever is insignificant to that which is commendable; that we may live in the light.
Holy God, you are the Lord our God, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And yet our trust in you is fragile, easily crushed by our leaning toward indifference—the dismissal of your faithfulness as a result of our forgetfulness. Our trust is fragile, easily broken by the slightest pause—an answer to prayer not instantly given, a request for peace not immediately felt. Our trust is fragile, easily displaced by gods of our own making—the god of self-sufficiency, chased at any cost, the god of illusion, pursued in any form. Lord, have mercy on us, through Christ, our Lord.
Ever-present God, you never leave us. Help us to stay with you when we are tempted to flee, and keep us seeking after that which is true, that all may know that you are the Lord, our God, a tenacious presence in whatever our reality, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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
Loving God, we are the body of Christ created in your image known and loved by you, loved for who we are, accepted, forgiven, and restored; united to live in your ways.
We are nourished by faith, helping us in our daily lives to face the challenges of each day to carry us through times of illness, grief and anxiety: replenishing and restoring us, building us up as your people.
We are called to serve the lost, the lonely, and the deserted; through our words and our actions to be the hands and the feet of your Church today.
Be with us, to feed us with compassion, that we might dine on your grace, that we might be filled with your Spirit, as we live our faith in the world today.
We are challenged to love to love our families through times of both joy and trial: to love our friends and neighbours even if they annoy or irritate, to love our enemies, in the face of their anger and malice.
So, Lord, nourish our faith that we might have love to show others the love Christ has shown us. Living God, thank you that you hold us together in love. We are the body of Christ. You help us to grow and mature. We are challenged to love as we bring our prayers in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, who taught us to pray…
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,
Knowing You (All I once held dear) by Graham Kendrick is one of the most well-loved songs in UK churches and certainly one of the top 10.
There is simply nothing greater than knowing Jesus!