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Sunday, September 24th, 2023 - Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. Sermon: Generous Gracious God by The Rev. Joshua Heimbuck, Pastor


September 24, 2023

The Rev. Joshua Heimbuck, Pastor


“The Last Will Be First Sunday”


Welcome to all who have gathered to worship as we celebrate God’s continued presence in our lives and world. We pray that in this hour of worship, God would strengthen us through Word and Sacrament so that we might give witness to all he has promised in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Guests and visitors, please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave this morning’s worship. If you have no church home of your own, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran Church the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. After this morning’s worship, join us for a cup of coffee and let us become better acquainted with you as you get to know us better. Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER The Ways of a Wise God

There are times when God’s ways just don’t make sense at least not by the standards of human reason. In today’s Gospel reading, the workers in the vineyard who worked from dawn to dusk couldn’t understand why they didn’t get paid more than those who worked for only a few hours. Yet the owner (God) insisted that his generosity was his to dispense as he saw fit. Through the prophet Isaiah, God reminds us that “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Today we pray that God would make his ways known to us, and that we would be empowered to submit to his ways even when we don’t fully understand them.


Lord God, your gifts are unique to each of us. You bless us with many varied ways that we might glorify you. Teach us to use your gifts wisely so that your Church might be built up through us. Gift us with your Spirit who will direct our eyes to see the opportunities which you lay before us; we ask this in your Son’s Name. Amen


Now the Feast and Celebration— Marty Haugen



[Remembering our baptism, we gather in the Name of the Triune God to our sins and receive the assurance of our forgiveness as his people.]

ORDER OF CONFESSION   Please Stand                                                                                                                                                           

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.”

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +

Lord of the living harvest, we confess that we have sinned. In our thinking, speaking, doing—proper faith has not been borne. Your final harvest fills our hearts with fear. For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive our ingratitude and jealousy, that we may serve you faithfully. Amen

Our heavenly Father forgives our debts as often as we turn to him in repentance through his Son, Jesus Christ. It is for his sake your sins are forgiven 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!

Forgiven and reconciled by God, let us be reconciled with one another and share the peace of the Lord as we greet each other.



The love of God the Father, made known in Christ Jesus our Lord, and poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit be with you all.

                    And also, with you.


Lord God, heavenly Father, you show perpetual loving kindness 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

+ WORD +

[Whenever we worship, God speaks, and we listen. We hear the Word of God read aloud in our midst, bringing us both God’s judgment and grace.]

FIRST LESSON    Jonah 3:10-4:11

[After Jonah’s short sermon in 3:4, the Ninevites all repented, and God decided to spare the city. Jonah objected to this and became even more angry when God ordered a worm to destroy the plant that was providing shade for Jonah. The book ends with a question that challenges any who are not ready to forgive: You, Jonah, are all worked up about a bush, but shouldn’t I be concerned about a hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites?]

When God saw what [the people of Nineveh] did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Then Jonah went out of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

The LORD God appointed a bush and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so, Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” The LORD said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about- Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

SECOND LESSON             Philippians 1:21-30

[Paul writes to the Philippians from prison. Though he is uncertain about the outcome of his imprisonment, he is committed to the ministry of the Gospel and calls on the Philippians to live lives that reflect and enhance the Gospel mission.]

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in any anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear the I still have.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Please Stand

GOSPEL                Matthew 16:13-20

The gospel according to Matthew, the 20th chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.

[Jesus tells a parable about God’s generosity, challenging the common assumption that God rewards people according to what they have earned or deserved.]

[Jesus said:] “The kingdom of heaven is like a master who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent- them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So, they went.

Going out again about the sixth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’

And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So, the last will be first, and the first last.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

SERMON             Generous Gracious God                Pr. Josh


We believe in one God,

the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

and of all things visible and invisible.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

begotten from his Father before all worlds,

God of God, Light of Light,

very God of very God,

begotten, not made,

being on one substance with the Father,

by whom all things were made;

who for us and of our salvation came down from heaven

and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary

and was made man;

and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.

He suffered and was buried.

and the third ay he rose again according to the Scriptures

And ascended into heaven

and sits at the right of the Father.

And he will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

The Lord and giver of life,

Who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and

glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

We believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead

and the life of the world to come. Amen


+ MEAL +

[As the first-fruit offerings of all that we are and have gathered are brought forward, The Lord’s Table is prepared to celebrate “The Feast that knows no end” instituted by Christ our Lord for the strengthening of our faith and the assurance of our forgiveness.]


God of all creation, all that we have comes from your hand. We bring what you have already given us—bread and wine for your table, and the gifts of all that we are and have for the work of your Kingdom. Most of all we give you thanks for your greatest gift to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen


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


The peace of the Lord be with you always. And also, with you.

[We come to The Sacrament believing in the real presence of Christ and that in the eating and drinking of the bread and wine of The Sacrament we receive the true body and blood of our Lord for our forgiveness, salvation, and strength for Christian life and witness.]



May the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the true faith to life everlasting. Amen


[Strengthened in faith and empowered for service, we leave with thanksgiving and the Lord’s blessing.]


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




DISMISSAL Go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!


+ With Great Joy … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +

Grace Note’s

THE PRESENCE of CHRIST is celebrated in The Lord’s Supper. He comes to us in a real and present way with his life-giving body and blood in the bread and wine of The Sacrament to assure us of our forgiveness and to strengthen us in faith and service. All who trust and believe the words “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” are welcome. Come, receive Christ’s presence in the meal prepared for you. Enjoy his presence. Children are encouraged to come forward with their parents and/or grandparents and receive a blessing.

LADIES – You are cordially invited to attend, A Meet & Greet Luncheon for Rebecca Werner-Heimbuck (Pastor Josh’s Wife) on Saturday, September 30th, 2023 from 12:00 Noon until 2:00 PM in the Grace Fellowship Hall. A sign up sheet is on the back table. Hope you can join us!

CHURCH ANNIVERSARY We are truly blessed to be celebrating Grace’s upcoming 75th Anniversary! In honor of our 75th, there will be a special Anniversary Worship Service on Sunday, October 15th. A catered lunch and anniversary celebration will be held afterwards. Please plan on joining us for this special celebration! More information will be forthcoming.

FEEDBACK WANTED – Don’t forget to jot down your top three favorite Christian songs and let us know what you want to see in the Grace Connections Newsletter. Feedback forms are on the back table. Deposit your completed forms into the “Feedback” box also on the back table.

This Week at Grace

September 25th – October 1st

Tuesday, September 26th @ 10:00 AM Women's Bible Study

Wednesday, September 27th @ 11:00 AM SOU's "Meet Ashland"

7:00 PM Choir

Saturday, September 30th 12:00 NOON

“Meet & Greet” – Rebecca Werner-Heimbuck

Sunday, October 1st @ Bible Study 8:45 AM

Sunday School 9:00 AM

Worship 10:00 AM

Coffee Hour 11:00 AM