At the Circuit Meeting last night, we had discussions on the way forward for the Circuit during the restrictions brought about by Covid-19. It was decided that we would have more of a Circuit centred ministry. This means that the ministers will take it in turns to record a service on a Sunday, and also that we will look at material to discuss in Bubble Groups. More information will be given at a later date. We do need to organize Annual General meetings, either attaching them to the Council Meetings or making space on a Sunday before or after Prayers.
We would like to engage with Bubble Church as a section, the advantage of this vehicle is that it means we can meet together in a safe environment. It enables us to meet for fellowship, discussion and Holy Communion. We have started Bubble Church at Balderton and it has been well received by those attending the two groups that have been set up. We are hoping to set up some more groups in Balderton and I would hope we can set some more up in Collingham, North End and Long Bennington.
The Coffee Time Zoom meeting ID No. is 871 2072 6914 and the Password is Coffee
I have chosen hymns from Singing The Faith.
Let us quieten our hearts as we meet God in this time of worship
Hymns 24 Come now is the time for worship
293 All heaven declares
We thank you Lord, for all your goodness to us. You are almighty God, you are Sovereign in our life. We bow before you because you are worthy of our worship. We serve you with our lives, with the words we say and the labour of our hands. We are grateful for all you have done for us and the way you continually express your love to us. Help us to express our love to you in the worship we give you from our hearts and also in the way we treat other people.
We are sorry Lord, when our hearts are full of pride, when we envy other people’s success, when we are upset because we do not feel that people appreciate what we have done. Forgive us Lord, when we are ungrateful for all you have done for us, and forgive us when we do not share our brothers and sisters’ burdens. Lord, we so often put our own needs before others. Forgive us all these things and cleanse us and renew us. Amen
And now let us say the Lord’s Prayer
Reading Matthew ch 20 v 1 – 16
Hymn 277 My song is love unknown
The parable which Jesus tells seems unfair. How can you justify paying someone who has worked only one hour the same as someone who has worked the whole day? Parables are not meant to be taken literally. Parables challenge our preconceived ideas of reality, they illustrate to us how God sees the world, and how we should change our way of thinking to God’s point of view. There are many references to vineyards in Scripture and Jesus uses this imagery in five of his parables.
The master of the vineyard represents God and the parable illustrates how God treats his workers. We have to be careful when we read parables that we do not use our preconceived ideas to interpret them. We live in the real world and our thoughts actions and standards are influenced by society and those around us. If we talk about this parable to one of our friends who is not a Christin, they would not agree with it, and they would not understand the message which Jesus is trying to put across. If we are honest, it doesn’t fit comfortably with our way of thinking either. But that is because our thinking is so influenced by the society.
The parable begins with the master needing workers for his vineyard. He goes to the market place where the men gather. He agrees a wage with them, and they start working in his vineyard. During the day the master goes back to the market place and engages more men. Eventually there is only one hour left to work, and again the master goes to the same place, there he finds more men waiting to work. These are the ones no one wants. The master offers them work and they jump at the chance. They go to the vineyard and work for the last hour. At the end of the working day the men are called forward to receive their pay. When those who have only worked one hour receive a denarius, the other men who have worked all day expect to receive more. They grumble to the landowner, and tell him that they expected more, even though, earlier that day they had agreed the figure.
If we look at this parable in spiritual terms, we can learn a number of lessons. Take the Pharisees for example, they were devout learned men, they were respected for their piety. But when the Pharisees encounter Jesus and his disciples, the Pharisees dismiss them because they didn’t have the religious knowledge they had, they didn’t dress in fine clothes, and they didn’t act in a pious way. The Pharisees looked down on them and called them a rabble. In the same way we can look down on people because they are not like us. We can allow pride to rest in our hearts. We can be critical of others for so many reasons – they don’t come to church, they don’t read their Bibles or pray, they don’t do as much as I do in church, they don’t give as much as I do, and so it goes on. To be critical of someone makes us feel better, because it raises us up, and brings the other person down.
Another illustration is that of a church congregation. A new person starts attending church and volunteers to help. Before long they start putting suggestions forward as to how to improve the church. The members of the congregation who have been at the church a long time, may listen positively to the comments or they may say, “This person has only just arrived and they are trying to change things.” Just because a person has been attending church a long time, doesn’t mean that they are always right. A new person coming to church can look with fresh eyes. They can bring new ideas for the church to try, they can make suggestions of small changes that can make a real difference.
Another aspect we can bring out of this parable is the treatment of those who were chosen last. It seems as though everyone had passed them by, they were the ones who people didn’t think were fit to work, they had been rejected. But the landowner offers them a job at his vineyard. I am sure many of us can relate to the feeling of being rejected, of being overlooked for a job, or thinking we are not good enough. God is the one who loves us as we are, he is the one who has chosen us to be part of his family. God’s Son died for our sins so that we can have a relationship with God. In God we have someone who loves us and values us for who we are. We do not have to prove ourselves; we do not have to be the best at everything to please God, God is already pleased with us.
The fact is that the master does show generosity to those who had only worked for an hour, but he also showed fairness to the ones who had worked all day. In God’s dealing with us he shows tremendous grace. For the labourers who had worked all day, they expected a greater reward than those who had only worked one hour. What about us when we have served God all our lives? Do we expect a greater reward than someone who has only recently become a Christian? In fact, none of us deserves anything from God, because we have been disobedient to him. We serve God because we love him and we want to please him but we also serve God out of gratitude for what he has done for us.
This parable is about the mercy of God. The overflowing grace that God pours into our life. And even when we complain sometimes that life isn’t fair, and that some people are receiving rewards when we don’t, when some people are being praised for what they do and we just get ignored. God gently nudges us, and reminds us that we owe him so much. That his grace abounds to all., that none of us deserves anything from God, but he gives his grace freely to us. We need to accept that God is sovereign, and if he chooses to bless one person more than another, then there must be a good reason, and we need to trust him to reveal the reason at the right time
Let us be one of the labourers who is grateful for all the blessings that God gives to us. Amen
Hymn 272 From heaven you came helpless babe
Lord, we come before you to pray for our country which is still in the grip of a pandemic. We ask that you will protect our NHS staff in all they do. We pray that you will direct our government in the decisions they make and the provisions they make available for combatting the disease. We pray for our Nursing Homes and Residential Care homes where some of our most vulnerable people are. We thank you for the caring staff and the residents themselves and ask that you will protect them.
We pray for other countries where they are struggling to control the spread of the disease, because of poor sanitation and cramped living conditions. We ask that you will give these governments the resources they need to treat everyone. We pray for the countries where there is unrest, and there are demonstrations on the streets. We ask that those protesting will be kept safe and that their voices will be heard in the places of power.
We again pray for the Black Lives Matter campaign. The struggle goes on even when the TV cameras are not there. We pray for a change in society, so that people will be treated with respect and given equal opportunities. We pray for the young people in our country who are struggling to find work, help them to find a job or an apprenticeship which is right for them. Amen
Hymn Blessing – UK Churches