CREATED, SAVED AND GIFTED BY GOD, WE SEEK, SERVE AND SHARE JESUS CHRIST.
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 20, 2020
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
901 East Stroop Road
Kettering, OH 45429-4688
Matthew narrates one of Jesus’ controversial parables, in which Jesus says the reign of God is like workers who get paid the same no matter when they start. When God changes his mind about punishing Nineveh for their evil ways, Jonah is angry. Yet God is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. In baptism we receive the grace of God that is freely given to all. As Luther wrote, in the presence of God’s mercy we are all beggars.
The last laborers to join the vineyard had spent their day being picked over. They were the hiring process leftovers. Like the last kids remaining in a gym class team selection, these laborers were for one reason or another deemed less valuable workers by the other landowners. Perhaps they were less physically capable than others. Maybe their strengths were not easily visible. Not being hired for work that day, they were standing around with no purpose or potential for growth.
But we have a generous landowner who does not overlook anyone. This landowner spends his entire day scouring the market for those who have been left behind and securing a place for them in his vineyard. He gives them value and meaning. Jesus will not rest until every lost and idle bystander has a place in the kingdom of heaven.
This radical generosity scandalizes the system that rewards people based on their merits and outputs. But Jesus rewards people of all abilities and work ethics equally. In God’s commonwealth, the leftover workers have as much value as those chosen first.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was keenly aware of how people with intellectual disabilities were defined by what they couldn’t do. She wanted to provide opportunities for them to develop physical fitness, display courage, and find joy on the playing field. Her vision grew into the Special Olympics movement. This inclusive and expansive glimpse into the kingdom of heaven celebrates the athletic achievements of those who are often excluded from the vineyard.
In worship, we practice leaning into Jesus’ vision as we gather around the table. Regardless of our status or position, we are all on equal footing at Christ’s meal. We are given the same portions of bread. We drink from the same cup. It does not matter if we arrived late or early, young or old, grateful or ungrateful. Jesus has invited each of us here. We have not been overlooked. We have been given our work for this day.
The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.
THANKSGIVING FOR BAPTISM
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign that is marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.
Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism, we are clothed with God’s mercy and forgiveness.Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.
Silence is kept for reflection.
We give you thanks, O God, for in the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters and by your Word you created the world, calling forth life in which you took delight. Through the waters of the flood you delivered Noah and his family. Through the sea you led your people Israel from slavery into freedom. At the river your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit. By water and your Word you claim us as daughters and sons, making us heirs of your promise and servants of all. We praise you for the gift of water that sustains life, and above all we praise you for the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. Shower us with your Spirit, and renew our lives with your forgiveness, grace, and love. To you be given honor and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
Have mercy on us, Lord, and hear our solemn prayer.
We come to hear your living word; is saves us from despair.
Have mercy on us, Christ, and wash away our sin.
Pour out your grace and make us whole that new life may begin.
Have mercy on us, Lord, make sin and shame depart.
renew us with your saving pow’r; create in us new hearts!
CANTICLE OF PRAISE
Glory be to God in heaven; peace, goodwill to all the earth.
Mighty God of all creation, Father of surpassing worth:
we exalt you, we adore you, we lift high our thanks and praise.
Saints and angels bow before you; here on earth our songs we raise.
Glory be to Christ forever, Lamb of God and Lord of love.
Son of God and gracious Savior, you have come from heav’n above;
on the cross you died to save us; now you reign at God’s right hand.
Hear our prayer; restore, forgive us; in your promise firm we stand.
Holy One we now acclaim you; Lord alone, to you we call;
Holy One in faith we name you, God most high, yet near to all:
Jesus Christ, with God the Spirit, in the Father’s splendor bright.
For the peace that we inherit, glory be to God on high!
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Almighty and eternal God,
you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants. Be- cause we cannot rely on our own abilities, grant us your merciful judgment, and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.
FIRST READING 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 a plant that was providing shade. 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 should not I be concerned about a hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites who do not know the difference between their right and left hands?
A reading from the book of Jonah.
When God saw what [the people of Ninevah] 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 sat down east 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.” Then 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?”
Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.
SECOND READING 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.
A reading from the book of Philippians.
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 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 for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.
Alleluia! Lord and Savior: open now your saving word.
Let it burn like fire within us; speak until our hearts are stirred.
Alleluia! Lord, we sing for the good news that you bring.
GOSPEL Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus tells a parable about God’s generosity, challenging the common assumption that God rewards people according to what they have earned or deserve.
The holy gospel according to Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 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 the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
SPECIAL MUSIC – My Faith Looks Up to Thee
My faith looks up to thee,
thou Lamb of Calvary,
Now hear me while I pray,
take all my guilt away,
oh, let me from this day
be wholly thine!
May thy rich grace impart
strength to my fainting heart,
my zeal inspire;
as thou hast died for me,
oh, may my love to thee
pure, warm, and changeless be,
a living fire!
While life’s dark maze I tread
and griefs around me spread,
be thou my guide;
bid darkness turn to day,
wipe sorrow’s tears away,
nor let me ever stray
from thee aside.
When ends life’s transient dream,
when death’s cold, sullen stream
shall o’er me roll;
blest Savior, then, in love
fear and distrust remove;
oh, bear me safe above,
a ransomed soul!
BLESSING OF THE BACKPACKS
Thank you, God, for new opportunities to learn and grow whether it be in an actual classroom, a virtual classroom, or from our homes.
Be with our teachers, leaders, caregivers, and administrators as they guide us into the new school year. Give them the tools and energy to create engaging ways for all of us to learn and grow.
Help us to open our hearts and minds to new ideas, new friends and leaders, and new ways of learning.
Show us how to seek joy in all things.
When things don’t go as planned, help us rejoice in the newness. When we have
technical difficulties, help us rejoice in simple things like books and crayons. When we feel lonely or isolated, remind us that you are by our side.
When our teachers and caregivers seem worried and wary, help them to be gentle with themselves.
As we begin to explore the unknown of this school year, let us rejoice with new friends, in new ways of learning, in knowing that you are with us through it all.
God of joy and light, pour out your blessing upon these students, families, teachers, and leaders. Bless their backpacks, Chromebooks and computers, virtual classrooms, school buildings, and all preparations that help build a strong and safe year for everyone.
May each of you be a blessing and light in your new year! Go and light up the world!
BLESSING FOR EVERYONE
We are thankful for good colleagues and the opportunity to collaborate with so many around us.
We are thankful for the opportunity learn and practice new things.
We are grateful for extra time with family, and for all the new ways we have found to connect with friends.
We are grateful for our health and for the health of our families.
Over the course of the last months,
We have felt your presence in the care and compassion of those working around and with us to find the best path forward for our community.
We have felt your presence in our continuous striving for better, striving to find
solutions that serve the greatest number of people in the best way possible with the least risk of harm.
We have felt your presence on days when our work – at our workplaces or at our
homes – was not great, and we were humbled or needed to make apologies.
We have been challenged and needed your guidance in thinking with a community-focus rather than an individual one, and we’ve been challenged in finding the right response on other occasions when we judge that others are falling into that same pit.
We have felt challenged by all the meals that have been cooked and dishes we’ve washed. We have felt true joy in the quiet moments of fellowship and connection that only could have happened because of this common event.
We continue to welcome and be open to your presence in our lives and in this work.
As we look ahead to the coming academic year,
We pray that we make sound decisions for the students, the faculty, the staff, that protect them and serve them well, and also serve the institution well.
We pray that we continue to be inclusive and broad in our thinking, that we continue to be imaginative and innovative, that we have the energy required to sustain us.
We pray that we continue to be intentional collaborators, guided by your spirit.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and 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.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Drawn together in the compassion of God, we pray for the church, the world, and all those in need.
A brief silence.
Each intercession concludes: Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
All these things and whatever else you see that we need, we entrust to your mercy; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
CANTICLE OF THANKSGIVING
Lift ev’ry voice and sing till earth and heaven ring,
ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise high as the list’ning skies,
let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chast’ning rod,
felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet
come to the place for which our parents sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered;
we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into the light,
keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee;
shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand,
true to our God, true to our native land.
THANKSGIVING FOR THE WORD
Praise and thanks to you, holy God, for by your Word you made all things: you spoke light into darkness, called forth beauty from chaos, and brought life into being.
For your Word of life, O God,
We give you thanks and praise.
By your Word you called your people Israel to tell of your wonderful gifts: freedom from captiv- ity, water on the desert journey, a pathway home from exile, wisdom for life with you.
For your Word of life, O God,
We give you thanks and praise.
Through Jesus, your Word made flesh, you speak to us and call us to witness: forgiveness through the cross, life to those entombed by death, the way of your self-giving love.
For your Word of life, O God,
We give you thanks and praise.
Send your Spirit of truth, O God; rekindle your gifts within us: renew our faith, increase our hope, and deepen our love, for the sake of a world in need. Faithful to your Word, O God, draw near to all who call on you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever.
Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
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 tempta- tion, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
Mothering God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you and lead you into the way of truth and life.
Make a commitment to not only worship each week but also try to find a way to serve in the congregation and seek out a way to serve our community.
YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSION FIELD
Nelson Wesley Trout, bishop, died 1996 (TFF)
Sunday, September 20, 2020
A native of Ohio, Trout served parishes in several parts of the United States before being elected bishop of the South Pacific District of the American Lutheran Church, the first African American Lu-
theran to serve in such a capacity.
Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Monday, September 21, 2020
Matthew (or Levi) was a tax collector in Capernaum for the Roman government. Tax collectors were frequently despised for dishonesty and for assisting the occupiers. Jesus nevertheless showed love
for them, and chose Matthew to be a disciple.