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Sermon (3) and Liturgy on The Gospel for Ordinary 25 - Proper 20 - Year A
Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
"Give us This Day Our Daily Bread..."


READING:  Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
SERMON :  "Give us This Day Our Daily Bread..."

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or25sx 996000
                  
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   
   Sources:   The Eucharistic Prayer is taken from Nathan Nettleton,
   "Eucharistic Preface For Proper 20 Year A 2002"  as found at 
   www.laughingbird.net.  The first portion of the Prayers of the
   People are from the "Centre for Liturgy" at St. Lewis University as
   prepared for this Sunday in 2002.
   (liturgy.slu.edu/25OrdA092202/prayerpathmain.html)  


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based On Isaiah 55:6-9)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Seek the Lord while he may be found.  
P  Call upon God while he is near.
L  Let the wicked forsake their way and the unrighteous their thoughts.
P  Let them return to the Lord that he may have mercy,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon them.
L  The thoughts of God are not like human thoughts,
   nor are the ways of God like the ways of mortals.
P  As the heavens are higher than the earth
   so the ways of God are higher than our ways
   and the thoughts of God than our thoughts.


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Let us pray -- Great oh Lord is your mercy and love.   You take upon
yourself our burdens, you forgive our sin, you help us day by day when we
call upon you.  Oh Lord, as we draw near to you in this hour lift from us
those things that weigh us down.  Help us to hear your word and to know
your thoughts and to render you the praise and glory you deserve.  Grant
that in our worship your Spirit may transform the imaginings of our minds
and make them more like those of Christ Jesus.   Indeed strengthen us to
live as he has shown us so that we may bring honour to you and hope to all
those around us who have lost their way.  Guide us, O Lord, by your living
presence.  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah"                          - VU 651


CHILDREN'S TIME  
Object    None
Theme:    God Cares For Us 
Source:   Self

Tell me - do you know anyone who is a complainer???   I don't want names -
just stand up if you know someone who is always grumbling and complaining
about something - maybe about having to do their chores, maybe about not
getting the biggest piece of pie, maybe about how the church is run or what
is or is not on TV.

We all know complainers -- now tell me what you think of them???   No one
likes a person who complains and grumbles about every little thing. 

One of the stories in the Bible tells us how God rescued his people from
slavery in Egypt.  With Moses as their leader they escaped from the grasp
of Pharaoh - the ruler of Egypt and fled to safety by crossing through the
Red Sea - the waters parted to let them through - and then closed again
when Pharoah's army was half-way across.   So the people were saved by God
from a terrible life in which the Egyptians beat them and killed their
children and did all kinds of horrible things.

Have you heard that story before?   It is called the story of the Exodus.

Do you know what happened after the people of God escaped from Egypt and
began the trip to the wonderful land that God had promised to give them, a
land where they would have good homes and jobs and be safe and free
forever????   

They began to complain and grumble to Moses.  They worried that they did
not have enough to eat - even though they had seen Moses turn water that
was sour into good water - even though they had seen the great miracle of
the Red Sea dividing.  They said to Moses that things were so much better
in Egypt - that there they had bread and meat - but now in the desert they
would starve and they accused Moses - and God - of bringing them out of
Egypt so that they would die. 

What kind of attitude is that do you think???   Pretty bad one - eh?   They
didn't trust God despite all the wonderful things God had already done for
them.

If you were God what do you think you would do with such a complaining and
distrustful people???  What you do to them?

What God did was hear their complaints - and give them food from heaven -
he gave them a special meal of Quail the first night - and the next morning
God gave them something called Manna - which fell from heaven like dew in
the early morning and lay on the ground where the people could collect just
enough for each day.  It tasted like a sweet bread - so much so that God
and all the people called it bread from heaven.  God told them that every
morning there would be enough for everyone - and it was so for as long they
were in the desert.

God doesn't like it when we complain, anymore than we like it when someone
we know complains..  But God listens to us - and like he did with the
people of Israel, he gives us what we need - day by day.  But God hopes -
and expects - that we will remember that he is good and that we can trust
him for everything we need - and that rather than complaining that we
simply ask him each day for what we need and do those things he asks us to
do..


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
   Let us pray.....  Dear Lord God - sometimes we grumble and complain.
   - When we do - help us to remember - that everything we have - comes
   from you - that you feed us each day - and look after us each night. 
   - Thank you God for your care.  - Thank you Jesus for your care.  
   Amen.

And in the word's of Jesus who taught us to pray together as one family...

   Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
   come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this
   day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


* HYMN:   "In Christ There is No East or West"                     - VU 606


SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SPECIAL MATTERS
- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD  (verse 2 - VU 371)
                
  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God they will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

A READING FROM EXODUS 16:2-15
   (NIV)  In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and
   Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the
   Lord's hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all
   the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to
   starve this entire assembly to death." 

   Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for
   you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that
   day.  In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow
   my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they
   bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the
   other days." 

   So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you
   will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt,  and in
   the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard
   your grumbling against him.  Who are we, that you should grumble
   against us?"  

   Moses also said, "You will know that it was the Lord when he gives
   you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the
   morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are
   we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord." 

   Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come
   before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.'"  While Aaron was
   speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the
   desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. 

   The Lord said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the
   Israelites.  Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the
   morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am
   the LORD your God.'" 

   That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning
   there was a layer of dew around the camp.  When the dew was gone,
   thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 
   When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?"
   For they did not know what it was. 

   Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat."

L  This is the Word of The Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 105: Pts. 1 & 4 (VU 828-9) & Gloria Patri (sung)
           
   Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
   As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  
   World without end.  Amen


A READING FROM MATTHEW 20:1-16
   (NIV) Jesus said:  "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
   who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his
   vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent
   them into his vineyard. 

   "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the
   marketplace doing nothing.  He told them, 'You also go and work in
   my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'  So they went. 
   "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did
   the same thing.  About the eleventh hour he went out and found still
   others standing around.  He asked them, 'Why have you been standing
   here all day long doing nothing?' 

   "'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. 

   "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' 

   "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
   'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last
   ones hired and going on to the first.' 

   "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each
   received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they
   expected to receive more.  But each one of them also received a
   denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the
   landowner.  'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,'
   they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the
   burden of the work and the heat of the day.' 

   "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. 
   Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I
   want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 
   Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?  Or are
   you envious because I am generous?' 

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

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ


SERMON:  "...Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread..."

   O Lord, we pray, speak in the calming of our minds and in the
   longings of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the thoughts
   that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.  Amen.

Did you hear about the company that chartered a ship for its top sales
personnel?  

   On the appointed day the sales people swarmed aboard looking for
   their cabins.  Minutes later one of them was on deck demanding to
   see the Captain.  

   One of the officers asked if he could help. 

   "My friend has a much better cabin!" the salesman said.  "I did as
   good a job as he did and I want a cabin just like his." 

   "Sir, the officer replied, "the cabins are identical." 

   "Yeah," said the man, "but his cabin looks out on the ocean and my
   cabin looks out on this old dock."

I think that we often misunderstand the will and intention of God.

We get so wrapped up in what we think we need,
   and so bound up in our sense of what we think we deserve,
that we fail to recognize what God is even now about 
   and to remember what had God has already done for us.

It is said that when the people of Israel first grumbled and complained
against God and against Moses, accusing them of leading them from slavery
in Egypt only so that he could kill them in the wilderness, that  God
responded to their criticism - to their harping - to their lack of trust -
by promising to provide them with bread from Heaven every day - and that on
the first morning that they were to collect this bread that had formed like
dew upon the ground, in thin flakes like frost, hey did not know what it
was, and asked one another what it might be.

And so this bread - this stuff that formed on the desert floor each dawn -
this daily provision from God - came to be called Manna - a word that
literally means "What is it?"

Even though the people of Israel were liberated from their bondage in Egypt 
with incredible signs of God's power 
   - even though the Red Sea parted to allow them through safely and came
   together again and destroyed their enemies,  
   - even though God made bitter water sweet and led them by a fire in the
   night and by a pillar of cloud by day towards the Holy Mountain where
   they would worship Him and towards the land God had promised to give
   them , 
   - even though God had proved his goodness to them, his love for them,
they fretted and worried and grumbled and complained - and doubted the love
of God,  the will of God, to do them good, and then they  failed to
recognize how God had answered their complaints and their cries of need.

Perhaps it is always that way.

Certainly many people are like the salesman on the cruise ship before it
left port, and like the Children of Israel before they reached the promised
land:
   - they are constantly comparing what they have been given to what
   others have been given,
   - they are constantly comparing the past with the present and doubting
   what the future will bring,
   - they are constantly evaluating what it is they think they should have
   against what they do have and forgetting what it is that God has
   promised to give them,
   - they are constantly forgetting that it is nothing but the grace of
   God that has brought them safe thus far, and that God will bring them
   "home".

In part that is the message of the parable of the workers in the vineyard
that was read this morning.

You know the story - how a Landlord needing workers to bring in the harvest
goes to the local marketplace in the morning to hire workers and agrees to
give them a denarius - or a day's pay - for the day's work.  

Several times during the day the Landlord returns to the marketplace and
finds people standing in the unemployment line - people who have no work,
no income, and hires them , saying to them only that he will give to them
what is right.  Even at the 11th hour, near the end of the working day, the
Landlord goes  to the market and finds others standing around - people no
one has hired - and he takes them on.

At the end of the day the Landlord pays off those he has hired - those he
has liberated from the hunger and  want of being unemployed - starting from
those last hired and progressing to the first, and to each he gives  a full
day's wage - to each he gives enough money to buy them and their families
their daily bread.

And those hired first complain and grumble about it - claiming that they
deserve more than those last hired  because they have worked harder and
longer.

To which the Landlord replies - "I am not being unfair to you.  I am giving
you what you agreed to.  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the man who
was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don't I have the right  to do what
I want with my own money?   Or are you envious because I am generous?"

Are we like those hired first? 

Have we forgotten the anxiety of starting a day wondering if we will find
work enough to feed ourselves and our families?   And the joy of being
hired early enough in the day to ensure that we will indeed obtain our
daily bread - that our families will not starve - that there will be enough
to go round?

Indeed - as we sit in this church and look around at some of the people -
some of the newcomers - some of those who have been warmly welcomed to our
midst and who will come to the table of the Lord with us in a few minutes -
do any among us resent the fact that they have been given the same rights
and privileges by God that we have been given - that they will receive
enough bread - enough love - to sustain them - enough to get them through
to the next day?  

Do we compare our labour to the labour of others and conclude that we
should have more than they, more love, more respect, more thanks, more say
in how things are run?

Undoubtedly, for those who think in worldly terms, the answer would be yes.

But the  story of God liberating the children of Israel from slavery in
Egypt (where they would have surely perished), like the story of the cross
of Jesus and how it liberates from sin and death, is not a story about
worldly wisdom - but  story about divine grace.

It is not about what we deserve
but rather it is about what we all need,
and how God most generously provides it
even when we do not "deserve" it.

Bread enough for each day - in a world where normally only those fortunate
   enough to be hired first are able get enough to eat.

Bread enough for each day - in a world where normally even those fortunate
   enough to have the strength to work are left standing in the
   unemployment line because of corporate downsizing.

Bread enough for each day - in a world where even those who work hard and
   long in the heat of the day are often forced to agree to less than a
   day's wages because of an employer's desire to maximize his or her
   profit.

Bread enough for each day for everyone who is willing to respond to the
   landlord's call to come and work, even though the landlord promises
   only what is fair for the labour they perform.

In God's Kingdom it is all grace 
- from those who are hired first and promised a day's wage for a day's work
- to those hired last and promised only what is fair.

We who have been called by God 
   - we who have been called out of the unemployment line 
   - we who have been called out of bondage to those things that would
   destroy us
each one here today has been taught to pray and are urged to pray,  as
Jesus taught us: "give us this day our daily bread".

And we are given it.

We are given bread from heaven 
- day by day. 

And more - as we follow where God would lead us,
   as we respond to his invitation to work in his vineyard for whatever
   may seem fair to Him,
we are given freedom, we are given life.  
And we are led to the promised land.

Today - receive the bread from heaven that God has provided.

Come from your seats without worry about whether you deserve to receive it
or not.

Come from your pews without thinking about whether you have earned more
than your neighbours.

Come and receive the mercy, the love, the care, the hope, and the promise
that God has provided.

Come and receive what you need and what God has given.


Come and share in God's grace and generosity with your brothers and
sisters, the generous God who would not see one of us perish...

Praise be to God, day by day, day by day.  Amen


CONFESSION OF FAITH  (The New Creed, VU 918)
P  We are not alone, we live in God's world.
   We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
       who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, 
       to reconcile and make new, 
       who works in us and others by the Spirit. 
   We trust in God.
       We are called to be the Church,
       to celebrate God's presence, 
       to live with respect in creation,
       to love and serve others, 
       to seek justice and resist evil, 
       to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,  our Judge and our Hope.
   In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.   
   We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.
                                 (Voices United - inside cover or page 918)
   

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Let us pray...  Lord, so often we see others as more fortunate than
ourselves, as getting more for what they do, as more beloved.  Teach us in
your time, O God, how your love is much more than just fair.  Teach  us how
it is a special caring for each and every one of us, tailored just for our
own size and shape, no matter what riches others may have, or how many
prizes, or how full of fame.   O Lord, your love comes first and is so much
better than all that and completely unearned.  We thank you for that, we
thank you for  providing for us, we thank you for calling us to labour in
your vineyard, we thank you for the bread from heaven that feeds us today
and for the promise of how you will spread your table for us in the
promised land and forever provide bread without price and wine without
cost...  Lord, hear our prayer..

Thank you, gracious God, for always giving us much, much more than we can
earn or ever deserve.  Contrasted with our often calculated way of doing
business with one another, your love towards us seems reckless,
extravagant, and unbelievable gracious.   Forgive us when we consider all
of this our right rather than as your gift.... Forgive us too for when we
have resented the love you show towards others who have not served you as
long as us - for when we have been angry because you have brought joy to
others whom we think greater sinners than we - for when we have measured
our worth rather than rejoiced in your mercy.  Lord hear our prayer....

Father, you call us to work in your vineyard - to reach out to others in
your name - and bring your  healing word, your gentle touch, your embracing
love to them.  Help us to be good workers - ones that seek the lost in the
market places and village squares - ones who are unafraid to see in a
stranger the image of Christ, and in a sinner a brother or sister for whom
he died and rose again.  Empower us as individuals and as a church to be
the kind of ambassadors who know and do your will,  so that in meeting us
people meet you.   Lord hear our prayer....

Lord, hear our prayers for our family and our friends, for our church, our
community, and our world.  We pray for... BIDDING PRAYER... Lord, hear our
prayer....

All these things we pray in the name of Christ Jesus, the joy of heaven to
earth come down - he who is our life and our hope, our daily bread, and our
rock and our refuge.   Amen.


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all stand for the
   Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer
   of Dedication

   Loving God, set us to our tasks in the work of your kingdom, help us
   to order our lives by your wisdom and bless all that we offer to you
   - both here and now - and in the days to come - as we work in your
   vineyard and travel to the land promised to us through your Son,
   Christ Jesus our Lord .  Amen


* SHARING THE PEACE: We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with
   you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace
   that God gives to those who hear and do his word.
                   

* COMMUNION HYMN:  "All Who Hunger"                                - VU 460
  

       COMMUNION EXPLAIN - Our table, the table of our Lord, Jesus
       Christ, is an open table.  All who desire to receive from  it
       may receive from it.  Today following the tradition of our
       Presbyterian ancestors  in the faith we will receive the body
       and blood of Christ in the pews.  Please take the plate or
       cups from the person who hands them to you, then serve that
       person - saying words like "The body of Christ broken for
       you" or "the blood of Christ poured out for you" and then
       hand the  plate to the person on the other side of you - who
       will then serve you.  A traditional response to these words
       of service is "Amen" or "And also for you".


THE COMMUNION LITANY:
L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.


THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER 
It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God, for you
provide for the needs of your people with a generosity beyond our
comprehension.

In the first of your mighty wonders you created the earth and filled it
with good things.  When you led your people out of slavery, you heard their
cries in the desert and gave them food from heaven so that they might eat
and give thanks to you.

So too, you feed us through your child, Jesus, the bread of heaven, who
came to nourish us and strengthen us in the faith.  Though he was killed,
you raised him to life, and now he gives himself with scandalous
extravagance to all who respond to his call, the early comers and late
comers alike.  So now for us, through your gracious gift of faith, to live
is Christ and to die is gain.  Therefore with the angels and archangels and
all the company of heaven we praise you, saying:


SANCTUS
P  Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
   Hosanna in the highest.


- WORDS OF INSTITUTION
Blessed indeed is the one who came in your Name, O Lord.  On account of him
we set before you this table - remembering his words and actions on the
night that he was betrayed to his death.  We recall how he took bread and
gave you thanks (as even now we thank you for this bread, O God).....  
Then he broke it, and passed it to his disciples saying, "take and eat,
this is my body which is broken for you"...   We recall too, how he took
the cup, and again after he returned thanks to you (as we bless you for
this cup, O Lord)..., he gave it to his disciples saying "take and drink,
all of you,; this is my blood, poured out for you and for many for the
forgiveness of sins.  Whenever you drink of it, to so in remembrance of
me."


THE MYSTERY OF FAITH
L  Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
P  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.


THE CONSECRATION
Lord, we pray that in your goodness and mercy your Holy Spirit may descend
upon us and upon these gifts, sanctifying them and making them for us the
bread of life and the cup of salvation, the body and blood of your Son
Jesus Christ.  Grant that all who share in this sacred mystery of your
presence may become as one - united in prayer, praise, and service in his
name.   Amen.


THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS  (Please take the plate or cups from the
   person who hands them to you, then serve that person, saying words like
   "The body of Christ broken for you" or "the blood of Christ poured out
   for you" and then hand the plate to the person on the other side of you
   - who will then serve you)

       The Body of Christ Jesus - which is broken for you - preserve
       you to eternal life.

       The Blood of Christ Jesus - poured out for you - bring you to
       joy everlasting.


CONCLUDING PRAYER
Let us pray, first in silence.......   Loving God, we praise you for giving
us the bread that comes from heaven - Christ Jesus your Son.  We thank you
for how we have received him in this place.  Help us now to go forth to
share Him and His life changing love and power.  We ask it in his name. 
Amen.


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Give Thanks"           - VU 179


* COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.
 

* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace,  
- and may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ who grants you every good gift
bless you with the awareness of his daily care,
- may the Spirit who has been sent by both the Father and the Son fill your
mouths with praise
- and may the love of Jesus uphold you and pour forth from you in abundance
- day by day,
both now - and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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