St Michael’s Church, Church Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6SB Tel 01695 424457 (Parish Office, Mon to Fri, 9am - 12 noon)
24 September 2017 - Trinity 15
Gospel Reading: Matthew 20.1-16
Theme: AAre you right to be angry?
Bible notes on the reading:
The context for this parable is Jesus’ words at the close of the previous chapter: ‘Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first’ (19.30). Entitlement is a strange thing in the kingdom of heaven. There is a promise of gift beyond deserving, but there is also a whole new pattern that does not seem ‘fair’, according to normal human standards. The disciples were shocked, for instance, to discover that the rich were going to find it difficult to enter God’s kingdom. How shocking it must have been to hear that wealth could be a spiritual handicap. Peter speaks up about the choice the disciples have made and the amount that they have given up to follow Jesus – surely their sacrifice will be recognised?
Just as with the parable of the unforgiving slave in chapter 18, Jesus asks them (and us) to consider the question from a different angle. He tells a story, not about the rich, but about the working poor – labourers hired daily for agricultural work. They have no guarantee of work, but they turn up early in the marketplace, hoping to be chosen and to be paid the going rate for a day’s labour – one denarius. Jesus talks of a landowner whose main concern is to ensure that as many people as possible are hired for the day, regardless of how much work they do. So he hires at dawn, at nine, at noon, at three o’clock – and even at five o’clock, when the working day is almost over. He pays all his workers the same traditional daily rate. Those who have worked from dawn become discontented – not because they have not received what was agreed but because they feel that they deserve more than the workers who arrived at 5pm (or the latter deserve less). In truth, the master has not lowered their wages, but raised the wages of the latecomers. As he puts it, ‘are you envious because I am generous?’ (v.15). The simple answer is, ’yes’. Comparing oneself with others often leads to a sense of entitlement, a desire to see a proper differential between people that reflects the level of service, seniority and effort. The kingdom of heaven is not like this. It is about responding and belonging, not about earning recognition or reward. In fact, life’s normal pecking order is completely reversed: ‘So the last will be first, and the first will be last’ (v.16).
Live your faith - ideas for our faith into action in our daily living.
For children: Challenge the children to find times when they can be generous this week, e.g. sharing a breaktime snack.
For young people: Resolve to treat everyone equally this week, especially if you think they don’t deserve it.
For adults: Make a note of what makes you angry this week. Pray that God will help you to feel angry about the same things as he is.
Find out more about one of the bible passages
we have heard this week.
Prayers around today’s themes
A way into prayer
Look through a magazine or newspaper for pictures of people at work. Pray for the people who do those jobs. Reflect on challenges they may face. Pray for peace for all those facing stress. Remember those searching for work, and pray for them and their families. Think about your own working life or studying. Thank God for the good parts, and seek his help in the challenges you face.
A children’s prayer
We thank you, generous God,
that you hold us all in your heart
and bless us with what we need.
Help us to be as generous as you.
A personal prayer
Lord, help me to stand firm in your Spirit,
to live in a manner worthy of the gospel,
and single-mindedly to strive for the faith of the gospel.
All the material on this page is provided by and copyright
ROOTS for Churches Ltd. 2002-2017 Learn more about
ROOTS at www.rootsontheweb.com
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2017. Reproduced with permission. www.rootsontheweb.com
Reflection questions on this week's picture: