04 October 2020 is the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost and The Ten Commandments story (from the Old Testament book of Exodus) forms the basis of Rev. Geoff McKee’s sermon for this week (Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20).
The other readings are: Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14; and Matthew 21:33-46.
The theme is freedom. But how can the Ten Commandments be about ‘liberty’? Geoff argues that, in truth, freedom is not the right to do as we choose. How should freedom properly be defined for us and why is that definition important?
As part of this, we consider the work of a Scottish minister who was Chaplain to the US Senate around the time of WWII and find out what freedom meant to him.
Read on, for the intimations, scripture, sermon, prayers and musical selection.
An intimation as a reminder…
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.
Lectionary Scriptures for this week
Exodus 20:1-4 (New International Version)
The Ten Commandments
20 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
How good and how pleasant it is to live together in unity. Psalm 133:1
Creator God, the heavens radiate your glory! You have set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a joyful bridegroom from his wedding canopy. May we emerge from night’s waiting with such joy that we too radiate your glory throughout this day. In the name of the Son of righteousness who has risen with healing in his wings.
Redeeming God, you brought us out of the land of captivity, out of the house of slavery. Forgive us when we willingly return to slavery, making divine the machine of production, crafting idols from the excess of consumption. Forgive us when we consider ourselves so grand that we do not rest and enjoy your presence, defining ourselves by our ability rather than your love. Forgive us when we esteem ourselves so little that we dare not rest and sit with ourselves, exposed, without the cloak of productivity. Forgive us when we deem our species so central that we do not rest and halt consumption, decimating the earth, denying her sabbath and integrity. Forgive us through Christ, who redeems us from the brokenness of slavery that we might enjoy your presence, creation, and community.
Faithful God, you remain when others forsake. When we are tempted to abandon ourselves today, help us to stay present to this moment, that we may know and do your will. Through the Creator who enfolds us, Christ who defends us, and the Spirit who never abandons us. Amen
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 Protector, you are the Lord our God, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Today, we pray for the release of those held captive by cruel governments and human traffickers, by oppressive ideologies and suffocating theologies, that all may know: you are the Lord our God, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
We pray for the release of those held captive by debilitating disease and mental illness, by crippling addiction and chronic fear, that all may know: you are the Lord our God, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
We pray for the release of those held captive by crushing grief and paralysing memories, piercing loneliness and deadening hopelessness, that all may know: you are the Lord our God, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Release within us your divine compassion and care on behalf of those who suffer, that all may know that you are the Lord our God, who brought us into the land of promise, into the house of salvation, through Christ Jesus, our Lord. 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,
Every promise of your word (Townend/Getty) .
This song reminds us that we can rely on God’s word to help us every day of our lives, as we encounter different challenges and difficult situations.
We know we can depend on Him to guide and strengthen us.
V1 ” You are faithful to forgive, that in freedom I might live”