8th OCTOBER 2023

Parable of the Wicked Tenants Explained (Parables of Jesus) - YouTube

SENTENCE FROM SCRIPTURE

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.

OPENING HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
There is no other commandment greater than these.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

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CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son
who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
by Sue Turner

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God:
in your goodness keep from us all that is harmful;
that, being ready both in body and soul,
we may freely accomplish your will;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9,12-20
read by Annette Beagrie

The Ten Commandments

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Pentecost 17 A Sermon: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. |  Out of the Wilderness

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work.

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.’

SECOND READING
Philippians 3: 4b-14
read by Kay Solaja

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow, I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Chinmayananda Saraswati Quote: “What we have is a gift from Him. What we do with what

Pressing toward the Goal

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have laid hold of it, but one thing I have laid hold of: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, toward the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Matthew 21:33-46
read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 21 beginning at verse 33.

Glory to Christ our Saviour

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went away. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them in the same way. Then he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

Giving God His Fruit (Matthew 21:33-46) — Saraland Christians

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?

“Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruits. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

REFLECTION

Prayer of St. Francis... - St. Joseph's Academy - Baton Rouge | Facebook

On Wednesday this past week – 4th October the church remembered one of its great saints- Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is remembered by most of us for his great love of all of God’s creatures, and for creation itself. He was also known for his great passion for the church and for the gospel, and for bringing the church back to its main purpose of proclaiming the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ to all of God’s children. He was particularly passionate in bringing that love to those that the world often forgot. But there is one other thing that St. Francis is known for, something that fired his ministry and his passion for God and for all that God made, and that is his great zeal for prayer. He would spend hours in prayer before our Lord. And when he did, he would often pray a very simple prayer: “Who are you, God? And who am I?”

As I thought about those questions, it occurred to me that today’s parable – along with many of the parables told by Jesus throughout the gospels – serves to answer those questions. His parables were stories designed to teach us about God, and about ourselves.

So, what does this parable teach us about God?

Our God if Persistent & Patient

This parable teaches several things, but the overarching theme for me is God’s persistence and patience with us. Jesus confronts the Pharisees time after time. His continuance in debating and arguing with them, is not out of pleasure or enjoyment but out of a deep desire for them to be included in his kingdom. Jesus is unwilling to give up on the Pharisees, or anyone else for that matter. Jesus is unwilling to give up on you and on me. That’s the good news. This is not a parable about exclusion or condemnation rather it is a parable about God’s patience and persistence.

God’s patience and persistence run through this parable. The story focusses on a landowner who has planted a vineyard, leased it to tenants, and gone to another country. This landowner reminds us that God is the ultimate landowner, and we are merely his tenants. That’s why we as Christians understand ourselves to be stewards of God’s creation, rather than owners.

In Jesus’ time, biblical scholars tell us that it would typically be five years before the landowner would expect to receive his first payment. So, I want you to imagine for a moment that you are one of those tenants. And that for the last five years you have worked hard in this vineyard, and it has produced much fruit. And now, after five years without a word from the landowner, there suddenly appear some servants of his to collect the landowner’s produce. You might have begun to think and to hope that these servants would never appear. That the landowner forgot all about this vineyard. That you would get to keep it all for yourself. After all, it’s been five years. But here these servants are, demanding his produce. 

Asher Griffin, "The Parable of the Wicked Tenants" - Matthew 21:33-46 -  YouTube

There is no excuse for the tenants’ behaviour but it’s not beyond imagining that these tenants really began to believe that they owned the vineyard. Isn’t that always a danger for stewards when they haven’t seen the owner in a long while? Isn’t that a danger for ourselves? Well, you heard what happened next in the parable. The tenants of the vineyard killed the servants who came for the produce. 

The landowner proves to be very forgiving, but very persistent. He sends more servants. The tenants treat them the same way. Then, the landowner sends his own son. The landowner is hoping that the tenants will finally get the point- he hasn’t forgotten about this vineyard. And the fruit is important enough to him that he’s going to send his own son to collect it. He doesn’t send an army with the son, which perhaps would have been prudent. He sends his son with the hope that the tenants will respect him. Of course, the son is really Jesus, sent by our heavenly Father to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to repentance.

You wonder what strange thoughts were running through the minds of the tenants? Did they really think that by killing the landowner’s son they would inherit the vineyard? Why would they possibly think that? Maybe they thought that the owner of the vineyard would never come. Or perhaps even that he was dead. But either way, they must have been convinced that judgment day for them would never arrive. That they could simply keep the fruits of the vineyard for themselves without fear of any consequences. What other reason can explain their actions? Convinced that the landowner would never return, they boldly killed his son. They live as though there was no landowner- something that happens in our world today. We live in the world as if there is no God, and no accountability.

Principle 7: Personal Accountability to God | Beyond Positive Thinking

This parable reminds us that accountability comes from stewardship and responsibility. This parable and the confrontation it provokes, acts like a mirror held before us so that we might see and recognise in ourselves what Jesus sees and recognises in us. The aim is not to condemn us but to recover us from the places of self-exclusion, to call us back to life and to lead us home. The truth is that God does not give up on us, nor does he exclude us or anyone from the kingdom of God. We do it ourselves by our lifestyle and choices. In this parable the Pharisees had excluded themselves by choice. The parable encourages us to ensure we do not exclude ourselves.

Bearing Fruit for the Kingdom of God | Christianity & Gardening Series - YouTube

“The kingdom of God, says Jesus, will be taken away from you.” This is not so much a punishment for failing to produce the fruits of the kingdom. It is the recognition of the present reality- they were given the vineyard and they failed to produce and share the fruits of the kingdom. Jesus is stating the truth. They have excluded themselves. In the same way the kingdom of God will be given to those who are producing fruits of the kingdom. This is not a reward, but it is the reality, of what already is. So, in this parable we learn about God’s providence, about his patience and his persistence.

What Does this Parable Teach Us about Ourselves?

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This parable is challenging the chief priests and Pharisees to heed the call to kingdom living? This challenge is given to us too, for we are now the tenants, the stewards, of God’s vineyard. We have been entrusted with this world, with all that we have, and are now called to care for it well, and to give our Creator the fruits of the harvest. 

This parable is also warning us, not to take anything we have for granted. Our world, our life, our salvation – it is all grace, all a gift from God. We, too, can be tempted at times to think that we can keep the fruits of God’s vineyard for ourselves. We work hard, making our living and providing for ourselves and our family, and it’s easy to forget that everything that we have is not ours, but the Lord’s. All we have is gift, and all that we have, is entrusted to us by God.

Chinmayananda Saraswati Quote: “What we have is a gift from Him. What we do  with what

This idea of all that we have is gift is often lost on us and consequently we have been greedy, exploitative, and thoughtless in our caring for creation, evident in our current climate crisis.

In the parable, the landowner has not returned, so Jesus has not yet returned to earth. The day of accountability has not yet come but it will come. When it comes right down to it, this is a parable about our faith in God, about our trust and confidence in him. It is about holding the reality before us that God is real; he will return and hold us accountable for the gifts he has given us.

As we began with the two questions posed by St Francis of Assisi- “Who is God? Who are we?” We learn that God has given us a beautiful vineyard to care for, but it’s not our vineyard. God asks us to care for this vineyard. To use the gifts that we have been given to bear fruit in our lives, not for ourselves, but for God.  Amen

THE CREED

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Faith is my guide | Spiritual prayers, Faith in god, Faith

PRAYERS

Lord, you call your church to be purified for your service.
Set our wills on your kingdom alone.
Help us to be people of prayer,
coming to your throne
in times of joy and sorrow,
deeply concerned for the care of others.

We call your name O Lord
Incline your ear to our prayer.

Prayer For Peace Among The Nations — Holiday At The Sea

Lord, you call the nations
to be at peace with one another.
Be with those countries
like Ukraine and Russia, Palestine and Israel
that are in a state of war and turmoil.
We pray for wisdom and negotiations in that country,
remembering those that are most vulnerable there.
Unite the nations in their pursuit of the good for all
so that none prosper at the expense of the other.

We call your name O Lord
Incline your ear to our prayer.

Lord, you call us to care for your creation,
help us to better stewards
of all that you entrust to us.
We pray about climate change
and environmental issues,
asking that you will give us
the will- power and determination
to make a positive difference and impact.

We call your name O Lord
Incline your ear to our prayer.

The Word For The Day — “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with...

Lord, you call us to rejoice with those that rejoice
and to weep with those that weep.
We lift to you those whose lives are in disarray
as a result of natural disaster or climate change.
Draw the right people and resources to their aid,
that restoration and new beginnings might occur.

We call your name O Lord
Incline your ear to our prayer.

Lord, you call us to care
for those who are sick,
physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
Anoint them with your Holy Spirit,
bring your healing and balm,
and meet each one at their point of need.

We call your name O Lord
Incline your ear to our prayer.

Prepare Your Family For Easter, Free Devotional Guide By Billy Graham - For  God's Glory Alone Ministries

Lord, your call brings us home.
Be with all who mourn at this time.
Be with those whose lives are ebbing away
and are ready to come to you.
Surround all with your love and peace.

We call your name O Lord
Incline your ear to our prayer.

Lord, you call us to come to you
and spend time in your holy presence.
Teach us how to discern
your voice in our world today.
Empower us to bear fruit in our daily lives
and to live according to your kingdom values.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us
to the time of trial+
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.

HYMN

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BLESSING

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of His son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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