September 24, 2023 – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, September 24, at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EDT on Sunday, September 24.
Previous livestreams and other worship and musical content is available on our YouTube channel. You can also check out our entire worship services archive. Our SoundCloud channel has yet more music and worship content.
Call to Worship
One: Give thanks to the Lord for God is good.
All: We will call on God’s name and make known God’s wonderful works.
One: Seek the Lord continually.
All: We will watch and listen for signs of God’s grace.
One: Together let us worship God.
All: We will rejoice in God’s presence and praise God’s holy name.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
“The Lord’s my shepherd (Psalm 23)”. (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 11). Words Psalm 23; paraphrase, Scottish Psalter, 1650. Music (1872; tune: “Crimond”) by Scottish amateur hymn composer Jessie Seymour Irvine (1836–1887). Harmony by Thomas Cuthbertson Leithead Pritchard (1885–1960). Descant by W. Baird Ross (1871–1950). Words, music, harmony and descant all public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God of all creation, you open the world around us and fill it with creatures of your love and purpose. The wonder of each creature declares your praise – the mountains state your majesty; the ripened field, your generosity; the oceans your power and the skies your grandeur. Birds flying aloft sing of your freedom; the tiny ant works with your persistence. And what do we declare about you in our lives? We pray that our work will honour your justice and mercy; and our relationships speak of your love and compassion. So may we praise you, O God, not just in this hour of worship, but in all our waking and our working. May we live your praise and promise through Christ, our Living Lord.
God, you are the giver of all good gifts, yet our generosity is often limited. We complain about our lot. We compare ourselves to others and see what they have that we lack. We share some of what we have, but we worry about running short. Forgive us our worries about tomorrow and give us generous hearts that trust in you day by day.
We pray in Jesus’ name, and continue to pray as he taught:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Declaration of Pardon
The mercy of our God is from everlasting to everlasting. Believe the Good News! In Jesus Christ, God’s generous love reaches out to embrace us. In Christ, we are forgiven.
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Guildwood Choir Presents
Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
“Jesus loves me, this I know” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 373). Words (1859 or 1860) by American writer Anna Bartlett Warner (1827–1915). Revisions to v2 and v3 by Canadian Anglican priest David Rutherford McGuire (1929–1971). Music (1862; tune: “Jesus loves me”) by American musician William Batchelder Bradbury (1816–1868). Words, revisions and music in the public domain.
Matthew 20:1–16 <– this links to on-line texts of the NRSV bible
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5 When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6 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?’ 7 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.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 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.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The scripture reading is followed by:
One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.
In the gospel of Matthew, there are a total of 23 parables. Among these, Jesus had a particular fondness for two metaphors when describing God. One metaphor he frequently used was that of a Sower or a farmer; and the other was that of a landowner or a landlord.
Matthew chapter 21:33 writes, “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 rested the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place.”
Matthew 25: 14, “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents…”
And the text we read today, Matthew 20:1, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
It is somewhat challenging to see God from the relationship between a landowner and their workers or a landlord and their tenants because these relationships are primarily structured around contact, obligations, and responsibilities rather than built upon the foundations of friendship, compassion, or love. They arise out of the landowner’s desire or need to accomplish specific tasks and the workers need for income. They arise out of the tenant’s need for a place to live and the landlord’s desire for rental income.
Yet Jesus chose this peculiar relationship to help us deepen our understanding and awareness of God’s presence and grace in our life.
By using the metaphor of a landowner, Jesus reminds us that our relationship with God is not that straightforward. It is not just built on compassion but also on responsibility. It is not just built on friendship but also on covenant.
The parable we read today invites us to think about that being with God should not make us feel too comfortable. There is a part of God should be unfamiliar, uncomfortable, strange, and foreign to us. Why? Because God is so bigger than our expectation and understanding of who God is. Don’t you love that?
Perhaps Jesus is inviting us to see God not just from these wonderful people around us who make us feel accepted, loved, and welcomed, those who always find time to listen to us and encourage us, but also from those who challenge us, those who disagree with us, those who demand, those who offer questions….
The descriptions of the relationship between the landowner and the tenants in the Gospel of Matthew 21 and 25 reflect the realities of the world. In Matthew 21, the tenants seek to seize control of the land from their landowner, while in Matthew 25, the landowner expects his tenants to generate profits using the talents he entrusts to them. However, what sets God apart as a landowner in the text we’ve explored today is that he places greater emphasis on assigning us tasks rather than how much money he will need to pay. This landlord is unconcerned about whether his workers put in 8 hours, 5 hours, or even just 1 hour of effort; instead, he pays them all equally and generously.
“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.’”
Who are these people waiting at the marketplace at 5 PM? They probably know they are not going to get any job offer, yet they wait, because there is no other option. We don’t know why they got there at 5 PM or we don’t know whether they got there late because they had to travel distance, or because they did not know what was happening or they were there yet not chosen earlier.
In our world, that is not how we respond to those who are waiting at 5 pm. The world will tell them, “You are late. You missed your chance. How come you did not come out earlier? Come back tomorrow morning.”
But here in the parable, the landowner simply offers a job and says, “You also go into the vineyard.” “I am glad you are here, and I have something for you. Come and work for me in the vineyard.”
The landlord in the parable is not necessarily fair, at least according to the North American capitalistic understanding of fairness, the one who works 8 hours should get paid more than the one who works 1 hour, but the landlord is generous to all his workers. Or perhaps someone will argue it is not about how long you work but what you accomplish with the hour.
The landowner in the parable cares less about how many hours we work for him or when we start working for him, but he cares more about giving us a task to all of us and welcomes all of us to his vineyard. God is not interested in meeting our expectation of how God should love us. God is only interested in loving each one of us fully and completely… however we are incomplete, however we are late….
May we present our gifts to God in response to what we have received from God?
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Our offering will now be received.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306). Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.
Prayer of dedication
Generous God, you are the source of all good things, of life itself and all that sustains it. Bless the gifts we offer and the gifts of fellow Presbyterians this day. By your Spirit, multiply their impact to support your purposes in the world you love in the name of Christ, our Saviour and Friend. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
God of mystery and wonder,
We look around at the beauty of the world and sense that you have given each precious thing its place and a way of sustaining itself. Thank you for your attention to the details of creation. Yet we also see an aching world and sense that many precious things are under threat. Bless the work of faithful people everywhere to care for the climate and environment. Show us how we can protect what is at risk for the health of your whole creation.
God of energy and life,
We look around at the peoples of this world and see your imagination and dignity in every variety of face and culture. Thank you for the gifts you plant at the heart of humanity. Yet we also see the aching of the hungry and hurting, and hear the groans of parents whose children die in their arms and the cries of children who fear tomorrow. Bless the ministries of our church across our country and around the world that bring healing and hope to lives at risk.
God of promise and possibility,
We look around at the places where people collide with each other and hear the grumbling of nations locked into old rivalries and new grievances. We watch the jousting of leaders impressed more by polls than effective policies. We worry about the future of our communities and our children. Thank you for the ministries of advocacy our Church undertakes and the witness for justice and peace we make together in Jesus’ name.
God of faithfulness and surprise,
We look at ourselves and sometimes doubt we can make a difference or have an impact. Challenge us to recognise the kinds of power we do have: The love and compassion, The courage and commitment, The laughter and friendship, The generosity and mercy. In all of these gifts we know your power at work within us and among us. Call us to keep serving together, trusting you can do more than we can ask or imagine through our denomination, our congregation, and our own lives, blessed by the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Precious Lord, take my hand” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 675). Words (published 1938) by American evangelist and composer Thomas Andrew Dorsey (1899–1993). Music adapted (ca. 1855; tune “Precious Lord”) for the hymn “Maitland” from an earlier gospel tune by American composer and geologist George Nelson Allen (1812–1877), then arranged for “Precious Lord, take my hand” by Dorsey. Words copyright © 1938 Unichappell Music Inc.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music in the public domain. Original arrangement copyright © 1938 Unichappell Music Inc.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
You may also enjoy this lovely version on our SoundCloud channel, with an arrangement, vocals and guitar by GCPC Music Director Rachelle Risling.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
“Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2023-09-25 22:10 – Added Sermon text.