Sun 20/9/20

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Service, sermon, readings, prayers & hymns.

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8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at:
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at:
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A Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Matthew 20:1-16

‘It’s just not fair!’ is a wail every parent dreads. Children develop a keen sense of justice from an early age, and it remains powerful throughout their lives. It triggers industrial disputes and creates tension between work colleagues. 

Last week there were many tributes paid to the actress Diana Rigg who famously played Emma Peel in the 1960’s Avengers series. One of the reports claimed that when she discovered the cameraman was being paid more than her, she downed tools & her shiny black catsuit until she got parity with the crew. Her salary was increased from the equivalent today of £3,500 a week to £10,500! These figures are mind-blowing compared to the story Jesus told in the gospel reading this morning.

The background is the Roman occupation & legislation which drove many small farmers & crofters off their lands. They were forced to join the cheap labour of the unemployed. The workers are day-labourers; the most insecure, powerless & exploited of all. They are hired by the day, and paid at sunset. The rate for the job is a denarius, just about enough for a little family to live on. An idle day is a hungry day. The precious grape harvest was due to be gathered before the seasonal rains arrived & so the men congregated in the market place hoping to be hired for work in the vineyard. A contract was then entered into. The agreement was the wage for the full day. 

In Jesus parable the vineyard owner came back to the market place after only three hours & offered to pay a fair wage. At noon he did the same, and again at three in the afternoon when the heat of the day had passed. Then, almost unbelievably, he went back a last time with only one hour of daylight left.

At the end of the day, his steward was told to make the men line up in reverse – the last in were the first to receive their money. This was done deliberately so that the first there could see what had happened. I think if I had been the landowner, I should have paid off the first lot first – and then the last ones in, could have a pleasant surprise!

Anyway, the steward lined them up in reverse and when the money was handed out, it was not for one hours work but a whole day. The next men in, had the same generosity shown. Perhaps by now the ones who had been engaged first were beginning to think of bonuses! Surely that would be fair, especially as they had worked through the hottest part of the day! 

But as we know, that didn’t happen. In spite of their grumblings, the owner turns & says ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. You have the wage we agreed. Take your pay & go home. I can do what I like with my own money. I choose to be kind. Don’t be jealous’.

What a hard & challenging story! Of course, the teaching behind it is the free & generous love of God – the vineyard owner- for everyone. God is not a stern taskmaster but a God whose judgement is love, and that love is unconditional. This is a story about the mystery of God’s dealings with us. The love of God does not rely on us being good or coming to church or the amount of work we do in the community, for the church or for our friends & family’s. God’s unbounded generosity is available to all of us. We only have to think of the penitent thief dying on the cross as an example. He could not work in the vineyard even for five minutes, let alone one hour; yet he was promised Paradise. This parable teaches us that salvation is the same generous gift for all. There is no discrimination between life-long Christians or new members of our churches. All of us are given that cascade of love, that avalanche of mercy & kindness & acceptance & forgiveness that we call grace.

Abundant grace – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

Apparently Diana Rigg was a devout Christian, hopefully by now; she too will have discovered that God’s ways are not our ways. His generosity is more than fair..........His generosity is eternal.


Ann Nicholas

16th Sept 2020

Prayers for 20th September 2020

Collect for 15th Sunday after Trinity

God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit,

upon your church in the burning fire of your love:

grant that your people may be fervent

in the fellowship of the gospel

that, always abiding in you,

they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Post Communion Prayer for 15th Sunday after Trinity

Keep, O Lord, your Church,

With your perpetual mercy:

And, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall,

Keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,

And lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Let us pray

Lord, you called your followers disciples.

And you call us to be students, who sit at your feet,

Learning to see the world differently

Because of the stories you told,

Because of the welcome you gave to outcast & sinner,

Because you showed that the wisdom of God is

Sometimes foolish in the sight of people.

Lord help us to understand more of your infinite generosity

& mercy to all people.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We pray for the kingdoms of the world,

That they may become the kingdom of God.

We pray that leaders of people & rulers may govern with humility,

That they may not be full of selfish ambition or conceit,

That they may seek truly to serve & to meet the needs of their people.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for employers that they are blessed with 

A spirit of fairness & grace. 

We pray for all those who now find themselves unemployed

& for those seeking work for the first time in these difficult circumstances.

May all who prosper be generous & willing to share with the needy.

We pray for all relief organisations & for food banks, particularly for 

Those who work so hard to keep families supported & adequately fed week by week.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We give thanks for our own work & our homes,

We pray for our communities, our schools, our friends & our families.

We remember any in special need today, either at home or in hospital.

We pray for the anxious, the fearful & the distressed.

May they know the peace of your presence in the love of those who care for them.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for all who have been faithful labourers in your harvest;

May we with them rejoice in your love & generosity

In your everlasting kingdom.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer. 

Merciful Father accept these prayers

For the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ



Praise my soul the King of heaven

Father, hear the prayer we offer

From heaven you came

In Christ alone