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Matthew 20_1-16

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TITLE:  Win/win

SERMON IN A SENTENCE:   Jesus invites us to the win/win world of God's grace.

SCRIPTURE:    Matthew 20:1-16

EXEGESIS:

 

CHAPTERS 19-20:   THE CONTEXT

The second half of chapter 19 provides the context necessary to understand the first half of chapter 20.  Both stress that the rules by which kingdom of heaven operates are very different from those of this world.  Both have to do with rewards for sacrificial discipleship.

In 19:16-22, a rich young man comes to Jesus asking, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"  When Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and give them to the poor, the man goes away sorrowfully, because he has many possessions.

"Look, we have left everything and followed you.  What then will we have?" (19:27).  Peter, observing this exchange between the rich young man and Jesus, notes that the disciples have already given up everything to follow Jesus.  What will their reward be?  Jesus' answer is quite generous -- the Twelve will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.  But rewards will not be limited to the Twelve.  "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life."  This does not diminish rewards for the Twelve, but it extends them to other deserving people.  It must come as a surprise to the Twelve to hear that so many others will share in the rewards. 

Jesus says, "But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first" (19:30).  He then gives the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, concluding, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last" (20:16).  He thus brackets the parable with this paradox that explains the parable's meaning.

"What then will we have?" (19:27). This is not the last that we will hear of the disciples' ambition.  Shortly after the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, the mother of James and John comes to Jesus to request a special place in the kingdom for her sons, a request that Jesus says is not his to give (20:20-23).

And, of course, the request of the mother of James and John was not the end of ecclesiastical ambition.  Is there a clergyperson whose heart beats so faintly that he/she does not long for a larger church or promotion to the next ecclesiastical office?  How many laypeople hope to be known as chairperson or deacon -- to control congregational policy and practice -- to have their name emblazoned above the door.  Personal ambition is still the name of the game in too many Christian hearts. 

Jesus turns such ambitions topsy-turvy.  After reading the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, we will not dare to look down our noses at those who have no ecclesiastical titles -- or those more recently come to Christ -- or those whose understanding is less refined -- or those whose denominations are less influential -- or those whose congregations are smaller -- or those whose music is less inspired -- or those who give less money.  Have we achieved high position or accomplished much for Christ?  Do we have good reason for a bit of pride?  Jesus warns, "The last will be first, and the first will be last."

VERSES 1-16:  THE PARABLE OF THE WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD

This parable "serves as a corrective to the concept of rewards that governs the preceding verses.  The parable is offensive to us; it challenges our sense of justice" (Hare, 231).   "In a vivid and even abrasive story, the radical and offensive nature of grace is depicted, inevitably leaving the reader with the questions, Was the owner really fair?  Don't the laborers who worked all day have a legitimate beef?" (Brueggemann, 494).

This parable is similar to the Parable of the Prodigal Son/ Elder Brother (Luke 15).  In both parables, the grace shown to the undeserving person offends those who think of themselves as deserving.  However, the prodigal son is so winsome that he steals our hearts.  When we read that parable, we are glad for the mercy shown to the returned prodigal and are offended at the elder brother's outrage. 

Not so with the Parable of the Workers.  We share the offense of the all-day workers.  "Divine grace is a great equalizer which rips away presumed privilege and puts all recipients on a par" (Brueggemann, 495).  We don't want to be on a par!  We want to be on top!   We don't want mercy (what God gives freely) but justice (what we have earned) PLUS mercy.  If God distributes mercy evenly, we who worked all day will get ahead of those who arrived at the last hour.  We will receive what we have earned plus a generous bonus.  The irony, of course, is that the little bit that we have earned is of no consequence when compared to God's grace-bonus. 

 

 

VERSES 1-7:  FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS LIKE...

1"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage (Greek: denariou ten hemeran -- a denarius for the day), he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o'clock (Greek: triten horan -- the third hour), he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock (Greek: hekten kai enaten horan -- the sixth and ninth hour), he did the same. 6And about five o'clock (Greek: ten hendekaten -- the eleventh) he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, 'Why are you standing here idle all day?' 7They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard.'

This parable starts wonderfully well.  A landowner goes out early in the morning to find laborers for his vineyard (v. 1).  Even though he has a manager (vs. 8), he goes personally to the marketplace.  He hires those who are available for work after securing their agreement to a fair wage (a denarius), and they go to work (v. 2). 

As the day progresses, the landowner makes four additional trips to the marketplace to hire workers.  He makes his second trip at nine o'clock (Greek: peri triten horan -- the third hour) (v. 3).  While the Jewish day technically starts at sundown, the working day starts at sunrise and is divided into twelve hours, the length of the hour varying with the seasons.  The third hour corresponds roughly to 9:00 a.m. our time.  He makes additional trips at the sixth and ninth hours (noon and 3:00 p.m.), and makes his final trip at the eleventh hour (5:00 p.m.).

The landlord's focus seems to be less on the urgency of the harvest than on the need of the laborers.  On his final trip, he asks the out-of-work laborers, "Why are you standing here idle all day?" (v. 6).  When they answer that nobody has hired them, he sends them into his vineyard (v. 7).  Some scholars suggest that he is trying to speed the harvest to prevent spoilage, but there is no mention of that in this text.  Perhaps the landowner intervenes because, in his mind's eye, he sees children who will go without food if their father fails to find employment. 

Presumably, the more motivated laborers go to the marketplace early to find employment, and those who go later are less ambitious. Most employers would avoid latecomers unless desperate.  This landowner, however, hires everyone in sight -- a grace-filled moment.

Those hired early have a clear contract.  They are to be paid a denarius, the usual wage for a day's work (v. 2).  For those hired at nine o'clock, noon and three o'clock, the landowner promises only to pay what is right (v. 4).  For those hired at five o'clock, there is no mention of money (v. 7).  

 

VERSES 8-12:  THE FIRST THOUGHT THEY WOULD RECEIVE MORE

8When 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.' "  9When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, '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.' " 

"When evening came" (v. 8).  The Torah (Lev. 19:13 and Deut. 24:15) requires that the laborer be paid at the end of the day. 

"Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first" (v. 8).    Jesus has said that the last will be first (19:30) and will say it again (20:16).  Here, in this parable, we see it happen.

"When those hired about five o'clock came" (v. 9).  The last are given a denarius, a full day's wages, even though they worked only one hour.  "These 'last' ones...are analogous to the tax collectors and the harlots invited into the kingdom by Jesus (see 21:31)"  (Hagner).

We hear no complaint from the other workers.  They smell generosity, and can hardly wait to see their paycheck.  Jesus makes no mention of the wages received by those hired at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m., but presumably each receives a denarius.  If so, they all enjoy a bonus, but the bonus becomes progressively smaller as the manager moves to the earlier groups.

"Now when the first came" (v. 10).  When their time comes, the all-day workers also receive a denarius, one day's wages exactly as contracted with no bonus added.  At that point, they complain (vv. 11-12).  Their complaint is not that they should receive more money but that "you have made (the latecomers) equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat" (v. 12).  The early risers competed hard in a competitive world, and expected to end up ahead of those who didn't.  They got in line early and worked through the heat of the day, and are upset to find themselves lumped in with the five o'clock scum.  As my children would say, "It's not FAY-YUR!"  We agree! 

"The parable is upsetting because it functions to challenge and reverse conventional values, including the sense of justice and fairness among Matthew's religious readership, and this is one reason why Matthew chooses to preserve it and insert it here"  (Boring, 393).  The religious elite (including Peter and the Twelve -- see 19:27) must learn that ordinary disciples will also receive a full measure of grace.  They must also understand themselves as recipients of grace rather than as workers who have earned a great reward.  "Man is expected to give himself over unreservedly to God's will, and God on his part lavishes grace on man to a degree that cannot be merited" (Johnson, 493).  But "how hard the doctrine of merit dies!  How proud we are of our 'works'!  How blindly we offer our legalities in protest against God's free grace!  How loveless we are toward the sinner!" (Buttrick, 493).

But perhaps Jesus' story is fairer than it seems at first blush.  "Is it really such a great coup to be hired late rather than early -- to spend the greatest part of a day, or a life, waiting fruitlessly?  Is even laboring during the heat of the day, or bearing a scorching wind..., really worse than having one's hopes of a meal fade with every degree the sun descends in the sky?" (Shuster, 114).  If you have ever spent days in a labor hall waiting for your name to be called, you know how soul-killing it can be.  Better to sweat in the hot sun all day!

And so we must ask whether it is better to live most of one's life without Christ -- without faith -- without prayer -- without hope -- and to pay the cost of discipleship only in one's last days?  To imagine that those who find Christ on their deathbed have struck a better "deal" suggests that we do not really value our relationship to Christ -- that we value the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow rather than the joy of knowing Jesus.  Such discipleship is like valuing great art only for its price tag -- failing to appreciate the way that it enriches life!  The person with that attitude lives a shrunken life!

A part of our problem in accepting the grace of this parable stems from our experience in a world where scarcity prevails.  While some would argue that there is no scarcity (if we would just distribute goods equitably, there would be plenty for all) that fails to meet the test of our experience.  While it might be possible to insure that everyone can enjoy a daily bowl of rice, it is not possible to give everyone a luxury car -- or a waterfront home.  At some point life is a zero-sum game.  There is only so much waterfront land, and you and I cannot own the same waterfront lot.  Either it is mine or it is yours.  Knowing that some of our desires will go unmet, it is difficult for us (1) to rejoice at our neighbor's good fortune and (2) to shift from this-world-thinking to kingdom-thinking.

But Jesus has just said, "everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life" (19:29).  The ultimate reward of faithful discipleship is eternal life and of that there is no scarcity.  The kingdom of heaven is not a zero-sum game.  When Jesus offers eternal life to the less deserving, he takes nothing from the more deserving.  In God's kingdom, we can all have "a mansion just over the hilltop," as the old song says.  There is no need for spiritual competition, because our reward is as good as it can possibly get.  That is a hard lesson for competitive people to learn.

 

VERSES 13-15:  ARE YOU ENVIOUS BECAUSE I AM GENEROUS?

13But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?' " (Greek:  ho ophthalmos sou poneros estin hoti ego agathos eimi -- Is your eye evil because I am good?)

"Friend, I am doing you no wrong" (v. 13).  The landowner calls the complainers "Friend."  While they might be ungrateful, he does not call them ingrates.  He has shown grace to latecomers, and now he shows grace to those who came early as well.

"did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?" (v. 13).  They contracted for the usual wage, and received exactly that.  The landowner has not shortchanged them, but has paid them fully in accordance with their agreement. 

"Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you" (v. 14).  There is no harsh judgment here -- only grace.  The landowner does not punish the early workers for complaining, but acknowledges that the denarius that they received is their property.  They are free to take it and leave.  What they are not free to do is to dictate what the landowner will do with the rest of his money.  If he chooses to be especially generous to the eleventh hour workers, he will do so -- and he does.

Then the landowner asks, "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?  Or are you envious because I am generous?" (v. 15). These two questions go to the heart of this parable.  The answers are obvious.  First, the landowner is clearly allowed to do what he wants with his money.  Second, the all-day workers are envious. They paid the price to get ahead.  They got up at the crack of dawn and worked through the heat of the day, but the landowner refused to acknowledge their diligence by elevating them above the latecomers.  They were playing by the world's rules, but the landowner was playing by kingdom rules.  It's not FAY-YUR!  That was Jonah's complaint -- and the elder brother's -- and the Pharisees.

It's not FAY-YUR!  That is our complaint too. We, too, want to bargain with God -- to tell God what we need -- to negotiate a favorable deal.  If you don't believe that, examine the content of your prayers.  By spelling out details, we hope to persuade God to give us what we want.  However, while bargaining with God, " we short-circuit God's grace, so that we only get what we bargain for.  We live by trying to strike merit-pay bargains with God, ...and in the dealings... we thwart the richness of God's grace" (Soards -- see also Rom 4:4-5).

"Suddenly we see plainly the true poverty of the first-hour workers.  Everybody in the parable is tendered with the wealth of the kingdom.... (but) there these first-hour workers stand, drenched in God's mercy, an ocean of peace running down their faces, clutching their little contracts and whining that they deserve more rain" (Long, 226).  If we look carefully, we might see our own faces in that unhappy little crowd.

"The significance of this parable can scarcely be overestimated.  Luke 12:47-48 teaches that there are degrees of punishment in hell; Matt 20:1-16, that there are no degrees of reward in heaven.  Neither of these facts is commonly known or understood in Christian circles....  But we are fools if we appeal to God for justice rather than grace, for in that case we'd all be damned" (Blomberg).

VERSE 16:  THE FIRST WILL BE LAST

16"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Jesus ends the parable as he began it (19:30).  This is the Grand Reversal.  "Lasts become firsts by grace; firsts become lasts by hubris" (Bruner, 726).

 

 

 

 

CHILDREN'S SERMON:  

An Unending Supply

By Lois Parker Edstrom

Object suggested:  A Dictionary

There are over one half million words in our English language - more than one person could ever use. Words are used combinations and can be used over and over again.  We use words to express ourselves and to tell others how we feel.  When you like or love someone you appreciate what they do for you, but that isn't the reason you love them -- you love them because of who they are and you use your words to express that love.

There is a story in the Bible about workers who complained to their employer that he was not treating them fairly.  They had worked more hours in the day than other workers who came later, but everyone was paid the same amount -- a fair wage.  This may seem unfair and difficult to understand, but the lesson is about generosity and love.

God loves all of us and he is generous with his love.  He gives his love to each one of us and it is not given because of the amount of work we do.  Think of the idea in the way you think of all the words you have to give to others -- you give your words generously to all the people you love, you don't withhold words because someone hasn't worked hard enough to earn your love.

God is love.  There is an unending supply of God's love and it is given generously to all of us.

-- Copyright for this sermon 2005, Lois Parker Edstrom.  Used by permission.

SERMON:     (Top of page)

We live in a competitive world, don't we!  We love it when we win and hate it when we lose!  It is fun to win -- tough to lose -- but exciting to play the game!

Sometimes people bring that kind of spirit into the church.  I also remember the story -- a true story as I recall -- of a bishop who spoke at a large church.  At one point, he gathered the children around him -- and told them that he was a bishop -- and asked who would like to be a bishop.  Some of the children started giggling and pointing, so the bishop turned around.  Behind him were several young pastors with their hands in the air.  Who wants to be a bishop?  We do!!!

From the prizefighter's ring, we get the expression, "May the better man win!"  That phrase reflects the reality that, in a prizefight, there must be a winner and a loser.

But in life there doesn't always have to be a winner and a loser.  You have heard the phrase, win/win.  That phrase reflects the belief that both sides can win if they play the game right. 

That doesn't sound right if you are talking about sports.  Unless it is a tie game, someone has to lose.  But win/win can apply even in sports. John Wooden was a great basketball coach -- one of the winningest coaches ever.  Wooden didn't tally success by the scoreboard.  He tallied success by whether his team had played its best.  He thought that some of his team's best games were ones that they lost -- and some of their worst games were ones that they won.  If his team had played their best -- had given it everything they had -- as far as Coach Wooden was concerned, they were winners -- because a team that gives it everything will get better -- and better -- and better.  By that standard, even in sports, a losing team can be a winner.

Of course, we engage in win/win transactions every day.  Most business transactions are win/win.  We exchange money for goods and, in most cases, both sides win.  Of course, not every transaction is win/win.  I once bought a used car that turned out to be a LOSER.  I lost, but the car dealer lost too.  He was playing, "I win, you lose," and the word got around.  People stopped buying his cars, and he went out of business.  People who play win/lose often lose.

In our scripture today, Jesus tells about a win/win situation.  Most of the participants were surprised when it turned out to be win/win.  Some were playing win/lose, expecting that they would be winners -- and were disappointed when the game turned win/win. 

Jesus told this story, so we dare not ignore it.  Jesus didn't tell it to show us how to get an edge in business but to show us how to get an edge in life.  He didn't tell it to show us how the world works, but to show us how the kingdom of heaven works. 

The kingdom of heaven might not seem important, given that we aren't there yet.  But as children of God, we have a foot in each world -- in this world and in the kingdom of heaven.  The kingdom of heaven is not just a place that we will see someday.  Jesus came to make it possible for us to begin enjoying kingdom life now. 

Jesus told us that God's kingdom is nearby -- all around us -- hopefully within us.  The kingdom of God is any place where people make God their king -- where people are trying to live Godly lives -- where they want to please God.

Jesus came to show us how the kingdom of heaven works.  That is a blessing, because it is important to know the rules of the game -- so Jesus came to tell us God's rules.  Ultimately God will be the referee, the umpire, the judge who will determine who wins and who loses.  We need to know God's mind so that we can be winners -- and so that we can help others to be winners too.

Jesus begins this story by saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for the vineyard."  As he proceeds with the story, it becomes clear that God is the landowner and we are the workers. 

In the story, the landowner hires five groups of people.  He hired the first group at six in the morning -- just as the sun was rising.  Presumably these early risers were the cream of the crop -- Type A -- willing to give a hundred and ten percent.  The landowner offered them the standard wage, a denarius for the day, and they were happy to get it.

Then, throughout the day, he hired more workers -- some at nine o'clock -- some at noon -- some at three o'clock -- and, finally, a group of stragglers at five o'clock.  He didn't offer these groups a specific sum of money, but promised only to do what was right.  They trusted him to do that and went to work.

At the end of the day, the landowner paid the workers.  He started with the last group -- the five o'clock group -- the ones who had worked only an hour.  On several occasions, Jesus said, "The last will be first, and the first will be last" -- and this parable illustrates what he meant.

The five o'clock workers lined up for their pay, and he handed each of them a denarius -- a full day's pay.  They had worked only one hour, but were paid as if they had worked twelve.  Wow!  What a deal!  Can you imagine how they felt!

Then the paymaster turned to the other groups.  Some had worked only three hours, but others had worked six hours -- or nine -- or even twelve.  You can imagine what went through their minds when the paymaster handed the one-hour workers a full denarius.  This was going to be a rich payday!  Bonuses beyond belief!  Happy days are here again!

But he handed each of them a denarius -- a full day's pay -- whether they had worked three hours or twelve.  Can you imagine how they felt!  The twelve-hour workers were angry.  They said,

"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."

They didn't complain that they were paid only a denarius.  They complained that the landowner had made the latecomers equal to them -- the early risers -- the ones who had worked twelve hours in the hot sun.  It wasn't the money that bothered them most -- although the money surely bothered them.  What bothered them most was that the landowner had lumped them in with the five o'clock scum.  I can understand the all-day workers' grievance.  But the landowner said,

"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 you.

Am I not allowed to do what I choose

with what belongs to me?

Or are you envious because I am generous?"

The answer, of course, is that they were indeed envious!  And angry!  They had worked hard to get ahead, but the landowner had made them equal.  They had played according to the world's rules, but the landowner had played according to kingdom rules.  Nobody had warned them that the rules would be different.

But Jesus warns us that the rules are already different.  Like it or not, we are playing by kingdom rules -- God's rules. 

And this parable teaches us a basic kingdom rule -- that we will see God only by the grace of God.  Regardless of who we are or what we have done, we don't have the price of admission.  We are like children with a small coin in our pockets.  It doesn't matter whether the coin is a nickel or a dime, it won't buy much.  What really matters isn't the coin in our pocket but the grace of the ticket master.

I would like to close this sermon by giving you something to think about this week.  It comes from commentary that Craig Blomberg wrote on this parable -- and it goes to the heart of the parable.  What he has to say is both shocking and wonderful.  Listen closely!

" Luke 12:47-48 teaches that there ARE degrees of punishment in hell;

Matt 20:1-16, that there are NO degrees of reward in heaven."

(Emphasis added)

Let me repeat that:

" Luke 12:47-48 teaches that there ARE degrees of punishment in hell;

Matt 20:1-16, that there are NO degrees of reward in heaven."

For Type A types trying to earn a heavenly mansion that might seem like bad news -- but it isn't.  On our own, none of us could earn even a shack on the celestial grounds.  The Good News, though, is that God hands out mansions wholesale to all who come to the vineyard -- whether they come early or late.  That is Good News to everyone except people like scribes and Pharisees -- self-righteous types who are determined to get what they have earned.

But Blomberg concludes:

"We are fools if we appeal to God for justice rather than grace,

for in that case we'd all be damned."

And so we would!

MORE SERMONS ON THIS TEXT:  You might also find the following sermons helpful. 

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild, "The Generous Landlord"

http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/a-or25se.html

Byrene Haney, "What is Fair?"

http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=79268&ContributorID=10651

Martin Dale, "The Parable of the Eccentric Employer"

http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=50459&ContributorID=6307

TRUE STORY:      (Top of page)

Some time ago, I read in the Asbury Park Press about Carol and Christopher Blackburn, who bought a new home in Dover County, New Jersey -- and incurred the wrath of their neighbors.  What was the problem?  The Blackburns qualified for a program benefiting low-income families, and were able to buy their house for about half that which their neighbors had to pay. 

Carol delivered newspapers.  She found one of her papers returned to her own lawn with a note that said, "We don't want you or your lousy newspaper."  Other neighbors snubbed the Blackburns at the local bus stop.

The reporter who wrote the article noted:  "This so-called 'inequity' has a parallel in the Bible story about a vineyard owner who hires day laborers for his fields."

A BIT OF HUMOR:

Heaven goes by favor.  If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.

-- Mark Twain

THOUGHT PROVOKERS:   (Top of page)

As long as I keep looking at God as a landowner,

as a father who wants to get the most out of me for the least cost,

I cannot but become jealous, bitter, and resentful

toward my fellow workers or my brothers and sisters.

But if I am able to look at the world with the eyes of God's love

and discover that God's vision is not that of a stereotypical landowner or patriarch

but rather that of an all-giving and forgiving father

who does not measure out his love to his children according to how well they behave,

then I quickly see that my only true response can be deep gratitude.

-- Henri J. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Grace is not sought nor bought nor wrought. 

It is a free gift of Almighty God to needy mankind.

 

-- Billy Graham

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

If God were not willing to forgive sin,

heaven would be empty.

-- German proverb

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Neither in heaven nor on earth is it possible

just to settle down comfortably through grace

and do nothing and care for nobody else. 

If I am saved by grace, then I am a worker through grace. 

If I am justified by grace,

then through grace I am a worker for justice. 

If through grace I am placed within the truth,

then through grace I am a servant of truth. 

If through grace I have been placed within peace,

then through grace I am a servant of peace for all men.

-- Christoph Blumhardt

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Grace is something you can never get, only be given. 

There is no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about,

any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream.

-- Frederick Buechner

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

HYMNS:  

KEY:

Baptist Hymnal (BH)

Chalice Hymnal (CH)

Collegeville Hymnal (CO)

Gather Comprehensive (GC)

JourneySongs (JS)

Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW)

Lutheran Worship (LW)

Presbyterian Hymnal (PH)

The Faith We Sing (TFWS)

The Hymnal 1982 (TH)

The New Century Hymnal (TNCH)

United Methodist Hymnal (UMH)

Voices United (VU)

With One Voice (WOV)

All Who Love and Serve Your City (CO #467; LBW #436; PH# 413; TH #570-571; UMH #433)

Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast (UMH #339, #616)

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy (BH #323; UMH #340)

Depth of Mercy (BH #306; UMH #355)

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (BH #398; CH #709; LBW #358; LW #294; PH #446; TH #522-523; TNCH # 307; UMH #731; VU #772)

Jesus, Lover of My Soul (BH #180; CH #542; LW #508; PH #303; TH #699; TNCH #546; UMH #479; VU #669)

Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service (CH #461; CO #606; GC #681; JS #462; LBW #423; PH #427; TH #610; UMH #581)

Make me a Servant (TFWS #2176)

There's a Wideness in God's Mercy (BH #25; CH #73; CO #535; GC #626; JS #432; LBW #290; PH #298; TH #469, 470; TNCH #23; UMH #121; VU #271)

Together We Serve (TFWS #2175)

We Will Serve the Lord (GC #665, 869)

SCRIPTURES FOR UPCOMING WEEKS: (Top of page)

We follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and use Gospel texts for Sundays only.  The RCL tracks with the other major lectionaries most of the time, but there are occasional differences.

     Sept. 25        Proper 21        Matthew 21:23-32

     Oct. 2           Proper 22        Matthew 21:33-46

     Oct. 9           Proper 23        Matthew 22:1-14

     Oct. 16         Proper 24        Matthew 22:15-22

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Barclay, William, Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2  (Edinburgh:  The Saint Andrew Press, 1957)

Bergant, Dianne with Fragomeni, Richard, Preaching the New Lectionary, Year A (Collegeville:  The Liturgical Press, 2001)

Blomberg , Craig L., New American Commentary:  Matthew, Vol. 22 (Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1992)

Boring, M. Eugene, The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. VIII (Nashville:  Abingdon, 1995)

Brueggemann, Walter;  Cousar, Charles B.;  Gaventa, Beverly R.; and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching:  A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV -- Year A (Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 1995)

Bruner, Frederick Dale,  Matthew:  Volume 2, The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 (Dallas:  Word, 1990)

Craddock, Fred B.;  Hayes, John H.;  Holladay, Carl R.;  Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year, A (Valley Forge:  Trinity Press International, 1992)

Gardner, Richard B., Believers Church Bible Commentary:  Matthew (Scottdale, Pennsylvania:  Herald Press, 1990)

Hagner, Donald A., Word Biblical Commentary:  Matthew 14-28, Vol. 33b (Dallas:  Word, 1995)

Hare, Douglas R. A., Interpretation:  Matthew (Louisville:  John Knox Press, 1993)

Johnson, Sherman E. and Buttrick, George A., The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 7 (Nashville:  Abingdon, 1951)

Keener, Craig S., The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Matthew, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997)

Long, Thomas G., Westminster Bible Companion:  Matthew (Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 1997)

Morris, Leon, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1992)

Senior, Donald, Abingdon New Testament Commentaries: Matthew (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998)

Shuster, Marguerite in Van Harn, Roger (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary:  Theological Exegesis for Sunday's Text.  The Third Readings:  The Gospels  (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2001)

Soards, Marion; Dozeman, Thomas; McCabe, Kendall, Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993)

Thayer, Joseph Henry, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (NY: American Book Company, 1889)

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