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19th Sunday after Pentecost

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Saviour; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
00:00 / 01:48

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
00:00 / 02:13

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Matthew.

Matthew 21:33-46
00:00 / 02:36

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Vinetard Tales
00:00 / 11:20

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Ordinary 27, 8th October 2023

MAY the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

Matthew could have opened today’s gospel passage with, “Get ready for another confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus!” Regardless of what you think about the Pharisees you’ve got to give them some credit today. They got it. They understood the parable. They heard Jesus. They realised he was talking about them.

Jesus held before them a truth they didn’t like and they wanted to put a stop to it. They wanted him arrested. They wanted him gone!

This is neither Jesus’ first nor his last confrontation with the Pharisees. WE tend to avoid those with whom we have conflict and confrontation. But not Jesus. Jesus just keeps on coming. At every turn he is offending, aggravating, and confronting the ‘powers that be’. He eats with the wrong people. He won’t answer their questions. He taunts them by breaking the law and healing on the Sabbath. He calls them hypocrites and blind leaders. He escapes their traps. He leaves them speechless. He rattles off a string of “woes” against them. He compares them to a disobedient son who will not work in the vineyard. They just can’t catch a break. Jesus never lets up.

So what’s that all about? Why can’t Jesus just let go of them and what does this latest confrontation have to do with us?

Is Jesus looking for a fight? I don’t think so. Is His primary motivation to expose and condemn those who do not follow Him? I don’t think so. Is he keeping score and naming all the attitudes and behaviours of the Pharisees that he considers wrong? I don’t think so. Is Jesus trying to exclude from the Kingdom of God the religious leaders of his day? I don’t think so.

Here’s what I think these confrontations remind us ..… that Jesus is is unwilling to give up on the Pharisees, or anyone else for that matter. Jesus IS UNWILLING TO GIVE UP ON YOU AND ME. Jesus just keeps on coming. That is the wonderful good news, the hope, the joy, and the eternal salvation placed before us in today’s parable. <PAUSE>

As we move further into the story, this then is not so much a parable of exclusion or condemnation as it is a parable of Jesus’ unwillingness to give up.

Jesus DOES NOT “exclude” us or anyone else from the Kingdom of God.

He doesn’t have to.

Sometimes, we do that to ourselves and we can be pretty good at it. That’s what the Pharisees have done. The Pharisees have excluded themselves.

Jesus says to them, “The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you.”


This is not so much a punishment for failing to produce Kingdom fruits. It is, rather, the recognition of what already is. They were given the vineyard and failed to produce and share the fruits of the Kingdom.

Jesus is just naming the reality, the truth … yes, The Pharisees have excluded themselves.

In the same way, the Kingdom of God will be given to those who are already producing Kingdom fruits. This is not a reward but a recognition of what already is. Where the fruit is, there also is the Kingdom.

If you want to know what the fruits of the Kingdom look like then look at the life of God revealed in Jesus Christ. What do you see? Love, intimacy, mercy and forgiveness, justice, generosity, compassion, wisdom, truth, healing, reconciliation, self-surrender, joy, thanksgiving, peace, obedience, humility. I’m not talking about these things as abstract ideas but as lived realities in the vineyards of our lives.

We’ve all been given vineyards. They are the people, relationships, circumstances and events of our lives that God has entrusted to our care. That means our partners, children and family, our work, our communities, our daily decisions and choices, our hopes, dreams, and concerns - these are the vineyards in which we are to reveal the presence and life of God, to produce the fruits of the Kingdom. These personal vineyards, our work in them, and the fruit produced come together to show us to be sharers in God’s Kingdom … or, as someone pointed out to me this week, in some cases, NOT!

The degree to which we are NOT expanding and proclaiming God’s Kingdom, NOT producing Kingdom fruits means … we are in danger of excluding ourselves from our share in, the Kingdom. We are living neither as the people God knows us to be nor as the people we truly want to be.

That’s the truth with which Jesus confronted the Pharisees today. It’s the same truth with which Jesus confronts us. <PAUSE>

The antidote to the self-exclusion of today’s Pharisees, the antidote for us … is that they\we must look at the vineyards of our lives. <PAUSE>

So, how’s your vineyard growing? What do you see? Is there fruit? Is there life?

Remember, when YOUR personal vineyard grows and produces new fruit - to God will be the glory.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Everlasting God, You want us to be a generous, tireless people working in the vineyards of the lives that You have given us. Guard us, Lord, from holding back when we should be letting go, moving forward and honouring You as Lord of all we have.

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Holy God, we thank You for Your creation and remember that You entrusted it to our care as stewards.  Give us wisdom to manage the money and personal finances of our vineyards and to practice heartfelt generosity. As we live each day, help us to treat our world fairly whilst receiving its goodness gratefully. Help us to remember that You are the giver of all we have and to put aside any pride of ownership.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Creator God, at this time of elections and referenda in several parts of the world, we pray especially for the world’s politicians and business leaders, those who manage economies and have responsibility to care for the environment. Guide them in their decisions reminding them always that theirs is a calling to serve ALL fairly and justly.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Father God, Your word promises all the material things that we need to live but sometimes we find it hard to trust. We pray now for all those who struggle to face the circumstances of their lives, for couples who cannot talk about them, for children who cannot understand but live with the worry. We pray also for those who are consumed by money worries, anxious about jobs or homes or the future; for all those who feel they cannot cope. Surround them with your loving and strengthening arms.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for all who bear the burdens of pain, bereavement, anxiety and depression. We pray that they may have an awareness of Your presence and an understanding that You are bearing those burdens with them and always working towards their healing and wholeness.

We now raise before you all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you. <PAUSE>

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer. Merciful God, we remember with thankfulness and gratitude all those who have left their mark on our lives by giving us love and laughter, but who have now gone before us to be with Christ. We hold them in our hearts, knowing that You, Lord, hold them in Yours.

May all the faithful departed now rest in peace as they most surely have risen in glory.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Heavenly father, in a moment of silence we place before you our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, our friends, for all of those whom we love and, for our personal ministries.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Gracious God, You have called and chosen us to spread the Good News of Your Son to the world. As we go out to another week help us to give the message to all we meet, at home, at work, in our leisure time and in our community.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Faithful God, as we move into the coming week to live and work for the Gospel, help us to travel onwards with our eyes on the goal, to that place where you are beckoning us, onward to Jesus.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

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 for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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