Hope Lutheran Church
16th Sunday After Pentecost
September 20, 2020
Grab your cup of coffee and join us at 9:15 am. Feel free to begin posting your prayer requests in the comments as soon as worship begins. (Congregational responses are in Bold)
Greeting (9:30 and chime)
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.
Prayer of the Day
Let us pray. O Lord God, merciful judge, you are the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness. Replace our hearts of stone with hearts that love and adore you, that we may delight in doing your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
whose steadfast love is everlasting,
whose creates, redeems, and sustains us and all of creation.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
have mercy on us.
We confess that we are captive to sin
and cannot free ourselves.
We turn from your loving embrace
and go our own ways.
We pass judgement on one another
before examining ourselves.
We place our own needs before those of our neighbors.
We keep your gift of salvation to ourselves.
Make us humble, cast away our transgressions,
and turn us again to life in you
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
God hears the cries of all who call out in need,
and through his death and resurrection,
Christ has made us his own.
Hear the truth that God proclaims:
Your sins are forgiven in the name of ☩ Jesus Christ.
Led by the Holy Spirit, live in freedom and newness
to do God’s work in the world.
Reading: Jonah 3:10 — 4:11
When God saw what the people of Nineveh did, how they turned from their evil ways, God had second thoughts about the calamity that God said would be done to them; and God 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?” 5 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.
I will exalt you, my God and king,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised!
There is no end to your greatness.
One generation shall praise your works to another
and shall declare your power.
I will speak of the glorious splendor | of your majesty
and all your marvelous works.
They shall tell of the might of your wondrous acts,
and I will recount your greatness.
They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;
they shall sing joyfully of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
The holy gospel according to Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.
[Jesus said:] “The dominion 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.’ 8“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.”
Word of God, Word of Life, Thanks be to God.
Sermon- “It’s Just Not Fair!” by Deacon Margy
Hymn of the Day– “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant” ELW 659
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 Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. 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. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
(Remember to post your prayers on the YouTube chat, so that others can also include them in prayer. Feel free to email Deacon Margy (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have private prayer requests.)
Drawn together in the compassion of God, we pray for the church, the world, and all those in need, responding to each petition with the words “graciously hear our prayer.”
O God, you make the last first, and the first last. Give resources and courage to the churches around the globe that have few resources. When ministry in this time is so difficult, inspire bishops, pastors, deacons, and congregational leaders in their service.
A brief silence.
O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
Continue your care for your whole creation: sun and wind, bushes and worms, cities and farms, and all your many animals. Make us into extensions of your care. Preserve the food sources of the world’s endangered wildlife. O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
To places of conflict and violence, bring peace, especially to the cities of our nation. Bless the work of negotiators, peacekeepers, and development workers. Preserve protesters, and guide police. Enlighten our nation, the nations we call friends, and the nations that are deemed our enemies. Keep our election season from dishonesty. O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
Give your blessing to the Jewish people at this time of their new year. Bring an end to anti-Semitism around the globe and strengthen peace efforts in the Middle East. O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
To all who are suffering, show your mercy. We pray for firefighters, for communities devastated by fire, for all who suffer racial injustice, for migrants who seek safety, for all who are imprisoned, for victims of crime, for the unemployed, for students and faculty during the pandemic, for medical workers, for all who are hungry: O God, the list of the needy is so long. . . O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
Give health and wholeness to all who are sick, to all who are suffering from the coronavirus, and to those we name before you here: O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
You show mercy beyond our expectations, far beyond our deserving. Hear now our personal prayers.
O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
We praise you for all the saints, especially this week for the apostle Matthew and for the gift of his gospel that speaks to us of your goodness. Give us grace to live for Christ, until we join with all the faithful in your eternal life. O God, you are full of compassion: graciously hear our prayer.
All these things and whatever else you see that we need, we entrust to your mercy; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
The peace of Christ is with you. (share the peace with someone now- text, next to you, or comment in the chat box).
Please visit www.hoperiverside.org/give to place your offering digitally. This link takes you directly to our tithe.ly giving page. It is a safe and secure church giving site, and all of your information will remain confidential.
Thank you for supporting God’s work in the world.
Let us pray. God of abundance and growth, all creation is yours, and your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Water and word, wine and bread; these are signs of your abundant grace. Nourish us through these gifts, that we might proclaim your steadfast love in our communities and in the world, through Jesus Christ, our strength and our song, 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.
~We Are Sent~
Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God the Creator ☩ Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the comforter, bless you and keep you in eternal love. Amen.
Go in peace. Christ is with you.
Thanks be to God.
Discomfort: Sign of Grace?
Poor Jonah. The guy never could get comfortable. He was uncomfortable with his God-given call to preach to Nineveh; he was uncomfortable in the arms of the sailors as they hoisted him over the boat’s edge and tossed him into the sea; he was uncomfortable as the ocean’s raging waves flung him about like flotsam; he was—undoubtedly—uncomfortable in the fish’s belly; and he was uncomfortable and downright angry with God’s mercy on the people of Nineveh. Jonah had a hard time getting comfortable with himself, and, even more so, Jonah was uneasy embracing the wideness of God’s grace.
The same can be said about the laborers in Jesus’ parable here in Matthew 20. The laborers who came in the early morning hours grumbled against the landowner because they were paid the same as others who started later and worked fewer hours. These laborers are ill-at-ease with the landowner’s choice “to give to this last the same as I give to you.” Like Jonah, they are uncomfortable with the unchecked mercy offered by the landowner/God. God doesn’t play by our rules, and that can be very discomforting for us all.
Our discomfort with grace manifests itself in all sorts of ways. It can be discomforting for us to engage the poor and the outcast of our society. It can be discomforting for us to welcome immigrants into our communities. It can be discomforting to address the pervasive racism that still surrounds us. And it can be very discomforting for us to open our lives to the transforming power of the cross of Christ, whereby “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 20:16).
Could it be that the more uncomfortable we become with the reckless love of God, the closer we are to understanding the meaning of grace?
In Short Stories by Jesus (New York: HarperOne, 2014), Amy-Jill Levine makes the case that the householder (oikodespotēs) of this parable represents both God and people of means who follow Jesus. As such, oikodespotēs who are discipled for the kingdom (Matt. 13:52) ought to seek out the unemployed and underemployed and pay a living wage. In so doing they support laborers (regardless of time on the job) and ensure that the necessary work gets done. As a result, each group gets what it needs from the other: “Maybe the concern is to work within the localized system and provide, if resources allow, funds so that everyone has enough food” (p. 216).