+ EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST +
The Vineyard of The Lord
THEME of The Day
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable to the vineyard, an image of Israel, the prophets’ mission, and Christ’s death. For Christians, the vineyard also speaks of God’s love poured out in the blood of Christ, given to us for the forgiveness of sin. Grafted onto Christ the vine at Baptism, we are nourished with bread and wine so that we may share Christ’s sufferings and know the power of his resurrection. Sent forth in his love, we are blessed to be a blessing.
May God bless your worship this morning.
ORDER of CONFESSION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the Word which God has sown, a harvest will be gathered in.
We have been called to work in God’s vineyard, to share in God’s harvest, to
give God what belongs to God. “My Word shall not return to me empty,” says the Lord. “It shall accomplish the thing for which I sent it.” But we are reluctant to obey, to do the Father’s will. Let us confess our sins to God our Father, that we may be forgiven and restored.
+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +
Lord of the living harvest, we confess that we have sinned. In our thinking, speaking, doing—proper fruit has not been borne. Your final harvest fills our hearts with fear. For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive our disobedience and hypocrisy, that we may serve you faithfully. Amen.
As the One who trod the winepress alone, Jesus Christ poured out his life for you. In him there is forgiveness, life, and resurrection from the dead. By him we are redeemed and set at liberty in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Our God has turned to us and we shall live.
Thanks be to God!
AN ACT of ADORATION
Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us
with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the
face of Jesus Christ.
We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord
Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became
poor; who became obedient unto death, even death
on a cross; who died and is alive forevermore; who
opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, who
is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the
Father; who will come again, as Judge and King.
You are the King of glory, O Christ.
Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the
Lord and Giver of life, by whom we are born into the
family of God, and made members of the body of Christ,whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us, whose power enables us to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.
All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Lord God, heavenly Father, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants. Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, help us to trust in
your abiding grace and live according to your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Isaiah 5:1-7
[The prophet sins a sad, parable-like song about the relationship between God and Israel. Israel is likened to a promising vineyard that now must be destroyed. Despite God’s loving care, Israel has brought forth “wild grapes’
of injustice and distress where fine grapes of justice and righteousness were expected. Having failed to uphold the covenant, Israel will bear the Lord’s judgment.]
Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it out and cleared it of stones, an planted it with choice vines; he built a water tower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove the hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briars and thorns, I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Philippians 3:4b-14
[Paul has warned the Philippians about Christian leaders who may have impressive credentials but do not witness to the gospel of Christ. Now he offers his own list of credentials, only to reject them all in favor of what he considers truly significant.]
[Paul writes:] If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have
more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of
the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, as to the law, a Pharisee,
as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,
blameless. Yet whatever gains I had these I have come to regard as loss
because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of
the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake I have
suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I
may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own
that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the
righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power
his resurrection and the sharing of his suffering by becoming like him in his death if somehow, I may attain the resurrection of the dead.
Not that I have already attained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 20:1-16
[Jesus said to the people:] “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest had come, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the produce. But the tenants seized his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir, come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce of at the harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. Then one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces,
and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard this parable, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY The Vineyard Called Grace
Text: The Gospel Lesson ... Pr. Jim
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
Jesus tells a strange story in today's Gospel lesson. Ridiculous, even. What businessman would protect his investment in such a crazy way? What renters would act as these tenants did? But of course, as with all the parables of Jesus, things aren't what they first seem. Instead, there are many levels of meaning here.
On the surface, Jesus is talking about the Pharisees and the chief priests. He has just ridden into Jerusalem in triumph on a donkey, and he has come straight to the Temple to confront the religious leaders. They are the ones who have refused to listen to the messengers sent by God …-the prophets … saying that they do the will of God and are looking out for all of Israel … but they don't. They are the ones who will seize God's Son Jesus in just a few days and put him to death on the cross. So, we can look at this parable as a story about how God will take away the kingdom of heaven from the hard-hearted religious leaders and give it to those who listen to Jesus and produce the fruits of righteousness and peace.
But what else is going on here? Is this only about a religious and political struggle two thousand years ago? Hasn't God also entrusted his vineyard to us? Hasn't he given us promises in our Baptisms and made us heirs of his kingdom?
Amid the polarization and growing frustration caused by anxiety, fear, protesting, and the uncertainty of the future during these pandemic days, we, too, will have to give an account of our labor and produce in this corner of the vineyard … or the lack thereof.
If Jesus had come to us today, we might kid ourselves and think that we would have recognized him for what he was … the Lord's Son … and honor him. Yet, I'm fairly certain that we would have done the very thing they did 2000 years ago … kill him. Kill him because he was different … didn't fit in and said uncomfortable things about good religious people like us … because he hung out with the wrong kind of people. … wasn't respectful enough to the way things are supposed to be done … and made demands on people that they didn't want to hear.
Jesus means for this parable to be heard as a condemnation of people not only in a specific place or time … but of all of us who reject the Chief Cornerstone … who refuse to acknowledge who's really in charge of our lives … who refuse to build on the rock that is Christ. This story is about all of us who refuse to acknowledge that the Lord is the owner of all we have … the master of all that we are.
But there's more. This story is often called "The Parable of the Wicked Tenants." It would better to call it "The Parable of the Long-Suffering God." In the parable, the owner keeps sending people. He keeps on trying to get through to the bad tenants. He keeps trying to reach them, finally sending his son. It's the same with God--that's the good news in this harsh and strange story. God does not give up on us … he keeps trying to reach us even when we don't listen. God keeps on after us. God sent the prophets and all the law to his people, but finally sent Jesus, who was rejected and killed by the very people he was sent to save! And through this rejection, he became the most important thing in the whole world … the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone!
God sent his only Son, knowing that he would die, and that by his death on the cross he would rescue us from sin and death and the power of the Devil. Our Lord, who was rejected and condemned--the Lord's own Son! --met anger with kindness … violence with love … death with life.
We have a God who did not spare his only Son, sending him even to death, so that he could get through to us. God did not give up … even when we were ugly and violent and sinful. Instead, he sought us out … meeting our anger with peace and our sin with love. Because of his extravagant love for us, we are able to produce the fruits of righteousness … able, as Paul says, to press on toward the goal of the heavenly call of God … able to share in the resurrection of the dead because we have been baptized into Christ’s death and raised to new life in him.
Baptized us into his life and marked us with his Name, and he expects that we will produce good fruit. Not through our own works … but instead through Christ who strengthens us. We bear good fruit because we are planted in the Lord's fields … because we are the branches connected to his vine … because we have the faith that he has given us. Because Jesus died for us.
Each time a child or an adult is baptized, a burning candle is presented with the words: “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” From the day of our Baptism onward, God calls us … keeps after us … to move beyond ourselves and our preoccupation with our lives and our stuff … to see others with the compassionate eyes of the God and bear fruit of the Spirit … love … joy … peace … patience … kindness … gentleness … generosity … faithfulness and self-control … especially during these days of COVID-10. In the waters of Baptism, our priorities are reordered. We are given new hearts and lives. We become the faithful servants and tenants waiting eagerly for the return of the Lord, pressing on toward the goal of eternal life … ready with the overflowing harvest of righteousness and the fruits of a Spirit filled life … for, we are blessed to be a blessing.
So … as tenants and workers in God’s vineyard called Grace … how’s it going in your corner of The Vineyard?
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life + everlasting. Amen.
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
Drawn together in the compassion of God, let us pray for
The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
A Brief Pause
Holy God, you call us to work for peace and justice in your vineyard. Refresh your Church with your life, that we may bear fruit through work and service. Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Lord of creation, thank you for the abundant harvest of the earth. Bless and care for those whose hands bring the fruits of the earth to the tables of all who hunger. May we be inspired by your servants who cared deeply for your creation, especially St. Francis of Assisi, whom we remember this day. Turn our hearts to care for the earth and its resources wisely rather than in selfish gain. Provide needed rains and weather conditions to bring all wildfires under control. Protect all firefighters and first responders as they seek to gain control and manage further devastation caused by all of the current wildfires. Bring strength, comfort, and relief to those affected and displaced by the Almeda Fire, especially: Pat & Penny, Lyle & Sandy, Richard & Doris, Norm & Marilyn, Sharon, Pam, Mike, and Linda (Vernia’s caregiver), together with those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of the nations, it is your desire for us as nations to live peacefully with one another. Curb the impulse of greed and pride that lead us to take advantage of others. Grant that world leaders seek your wisdom and guidance for the good and welfare of all people. Lead us along the paths of justice and give us delight in living with honor and loving our neighbor during these days of protests, rioting, and civil unrest. Calm our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Bring peace, justice, and calm to Belarus as its citizens seek a more democratic representation and government. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of life, tend to all in need of your compassion and love. Hear the cries of those awaiting justice and those yearning for forgiveness. Shelter all who are vulnerable in body, mind, or spirit especially your servants: Kristel (who is under doctor’s care for an aneurysm), Marguerite (MaryAnn’s mother) and Shari, together with those we name in our hearts … brief pause … raise the spirits of those who are homebound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of The Church, we thank you for the great variety of gifts shared in this community of faith. During these days of COVID-19 protocols and isolation that have disrupted our life together as your people in this place, turn us away from our own anxiousness and interests toward the interests and needs of others. Fill us with your compassion and sympathy. Make us into signs of your mercy and compassion for our neighbors and the communities in which we live. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We thank you, O God, for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and now rest from their labors. By their faithful witness and example, teach us to live faithfully in your vineyard until our labor is complete. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
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 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.
PRAYER of THANKSGIVING
Blessed are you, God of heaven and earth. You satisfy us with good things as an eagle feeds her young. Renew our strength, that we may go with eagerness and joy into the places where you send us to work in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.