Sunday 20 September 2020 (Trinity 15)
Coronavirus: The additional restrictions the Government announced do not affect Churches.
“For to me, to live in Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Collect for Trinity 15
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday 20 September (Trinity 15) – Old Testament: Jonah 3:10 – 4:11 (the Lord’s compassion); New Testament: Philippians 1:21-30 (for me to live is Christ); Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16 (Parable of the Vineyard)
Sunday 27 September (Trinity 16) – Old Testament: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 (God’s righteousness) ; New Testament: Philippians 2:1-13 (imitate Christ’s humility); Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32 (Jesus’s authority questioned)
Face Masks …
Our news-sheet this week reminds us that face masks are now compulsory; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.
We have a daily Morning Prayer service sheet for those in isolation who might like a time of structured prayer. Click to link
For additional prayers for a wide variety of situations Prayers for use at home may be what you are looking for
If you are in lockdown with children then ‘diddy disciples’ has lots of material for babies, toddlers and young children. Click to link https://www.diddydisciples.org/
Other Sunday Services and resources from the Diocese
The Diocese will continue to stream a communion service from his home at 10am available from the Diocesan Website
Reflections for a church in lockdown
The next episode in a new series of reflective podcasts by Bishop Steven is published on Thursday. The series aims to resource the Church during the crisis. Listen online in your web browser, or search ‘My Extraordinary Family’ wherever you get your podcasts.
Other news …
Harvest Festival …. Sadly, we cannot hold our usual Harvest Supper in the Village Hall but on Sunday 4th October we will have a short children’s Harvest service at 9.30am in St Margaret’s. We will be finished in time for the adults to start their own service at 10am and of course we will have our usual 8am service at Holy Trinity. We will be receiving harvest gifts at all our services that morning. The gifts will go to Wycombe Women’s Aid and they have asked that we provide only non-perishable items such as tins, pasta, cereals, and the like. If you know of any families who might want to come to the 9.30am service but do not get this newssheet, please invite them.
The latest from the Church of England (@ 5th August) is as follows …
In England, face coverings are currently required by law to be worn in shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and on public transport.
From 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.
There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups not to wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. distributing consumables). This exemption does not apply to worshippers, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.
Flowers at St Margaret’s …
The rota is arranged for the rest of the year and we have a terrific team of florists. So if this is a service you feel that you would like to offer please let Gail know. Revd Mike
For Prayer …
Marjory Mack in Wexham Park hospital
Jack Bain and family on the loss of Audrey
Lorna Barnard, back at Bradbury House after a spell in hospital.
Our churches and local communities particularly any who are affected by the present situation
Pray for our Government, the Prime Minister and all those who are working to get the best outcome for the people of our country
The NHS and all those who work in it. Protect them and give them strength and perseverance as they work in difficult situations
Alde House and Bury Lodge, for all the staff in our care homes as they manage the challenge of protecting the residents from the virus.
If you have not looked at this already, this time of enforced isolation might be a good time to view the Archbishop of Canterbury’s series of videos on prayer. They can be found at https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/exploring-prayer
One Can …
Emma Byrne’s OneCan Collection point is out daily (rain or shine) on their drive. She takes the donations down weekly, so far have sent over 1,200 cans. One Can are currently low on … Eggs, bars of soap, jams and spreads, tinned ham, tinned veg, cooking sauces, biscuits and toilet roll. And ‘well done’ to Emma (and those who have given cans), an amazing total
A note from our Treasurers about Giving
Although the church is locked down and we have reduced expenditure as much as we can, most of our bills still have to be paid and we are missing out on a chunk of our income through Sunday collections, hall rental, weddings and funerals. If you are not giving by Standing Order and are in a position to do so, then please do get in contact with Sue Wallace for St. Margaret’s (812879) or John Scurrell for Holy Trinity (813181) and they will get a form to you. Alternatively, they can tell you how to give a single donation. Sue and John would like to thank those who have sent funds for their generous ongoing support and additional donations over the past number of weeks.
Wycombe Homeless Connection’s Big Sleepout 2020: At home is here!
We need more people than ever to swap their beds for sleeping bags and sleep out in solidarity with the people we serve. It’s on Friday 20th November. We’re asking people to sleep out ‘at home’ rather than gather at large venues. Everything you need to know is on our website and registration is now open or give us a call on 01494 447699 to find out more. www.wyhoc.org.uk/bigsleepout2020
Thank you again for all you do supporting Wycombe Homeless Connection.
If you sense yourself becoming isolated or are feeling particularly lonely, do make sure you do not suffer alone but contact friends or family. They may not be able to visit, but you will feel better for having spoken. Equally, if you know of others who may be in this position, please do make contact to see if you can help. Ask people how they are and wait for an answer.
Spoiler Alert!!!!! ….
Further down this webpage we’ve included the sermon for our service on Sunday morning. You may wish to stop reading here and wait to listen on Sunday. Up to you.
Reflection for Sunday by Mary Lee
This week’s gospel passage has us looking at the world reversal order that Jesus introduces to us. Those who are first will be last and the last will be first. This is not the first occasion Jesus talks in such terms but it doesn’t make it any easier to understand. It is probable that Jesus intends this parable as a warning to the disciples themselves about their own attitude. When he said at the end of the previous chapter that those at the front would end up at the back and vice versa, it may have seemed that ‘those at the front’ was a reference to the rich and powerful and ‘those at the back’ meant the disciples themselves.
But as ever with the parables there are multiple layers of meaning and depending on where you are in both time and space your interpretation is likely to vary.
So, I think our starting point is to delve into the facts and see what they are telling us this morning.
Firstly, we hear about a landowner with a vineyard, hiring labourers to work in it. Now there is a danger that we can interpret the story as Jesus’ comment on the social justice of his day and we could move that thinking forward to our age and employment rights that have been put in place to protect people from discrimination or poor working conditions. But that would be a distraction on the purpose of this account and in fact Jesus is accepting for his parable the social and economic power of the landowner in order to say something about God; we know what Jesus would say to rich landowners themselves from the previous chapter.
But back to our Gospel account; the Owner goes out early in the day to hire labourers. First point of note. The Owner does not delegate this task to a manager but does it himself. He sets out the terms of engagement with each hired hand – the rate of pay for the day and the chosen labourers are sent off to the vineyard. But he’s not finished yet. The owner goes out again at 9am to the marketplace and takes on those he sees standing idle and tells them also to go to his vineyard saying – “I will pay you whatever is right” and they join the others. He does the same thing at noon and again at three in the afternoon and finally at about 5pm asking this time “why are you standing here idle” to which they respond, “because no one has hired us”. The owner exhausts himself to ensure that no person looking for work is excluded from his enterprise.
Second point of note – Whilst we are given clear times at which the owner goes to find labourers, we are not told of the numbers he takes on or whether he considers skills or suitability for the task he has for them. When he returned on each successive occasion and found more labourers where had they come from? We have no idea and the Owner doesn’t ask. He just accepts them at face value, takes them on, gives them a chance and they all go without question.
What is Jesus saying about God and why is he saying it here? Let’s look more closely at the final group of workers that the Owner takes on. It is curious that they weren’t spotted before. Weren’t they in the marketplace earlier? The Owner asks them why they haven’t been working to which they respond ‘nobody has given us a job’. In other words nobody wanted them. Nevertheless the Owner takes them and pays them a full day’s wage, just like the first group. As with so many of Jesus’ stories, the owner is standing for God and the workers for Israel.
Then we come to the second part of our parable – it is the end of the day and time to pay the labourers. Again, there is something a bit unusual. We are told that with the earliest hired workers he agreed to pay them “the usual daily wage”, there seemed some negotiation beforehand; for the second group he agreed to pay them “whatever is right”; no mention of the pay rate is made for the other groups he takes on. And yet when the time comes to pay all the workers, he starts with those hired last and each group is paid exactly the same amount, pay for a full day’s work. Not surprisingly, those hired first are not happy because they feel cheated that they are receiving the same as those who worked a small fraction and grumble against the landowner. But the owner responds saying “friend” I am doing you no wrong and you agreed the usual daily wage with me. It is my decision how I chose to pay my workers and asks them if they are not simply envious of his generosity. Interestingly, he calls them ‘friend’ an unusual term for your hired workers. We may consider that the final group is lucky to have been paid the same amount as those who worked the whole day and side with those who were in the first group and worked a full day. But were they lucky? If we remove the possibility that the final group were slackers and idlers it could well be that they were, infirm, older or disadvantaged in some way and they have been given the opportunity of employment, given a chance. One thing we do know about all of the hired labourers is that they wanted to work because when the landowner tells them to go to the vineyard, they all go. They don’t say, it’s not worth the effort for what’s left of the day, we can’t be bothered. So that rather discounts them as idlers, shirkers. They want to work and are prepared to take what they are offered for whatever time is left of the day and the later ones don’t even ask what they will be paid.
Work gives us dignity and security, challenge and purpose and to be without work can be soul-destroying. While those hired at first light had to bear the heat of the day and the greater toil, those hired last may well have borne the misery of unemployment, the insecurity of not knowing whether they would receive a wage at all and whether they would have the money to pay for food for their family, rent for their home. The last six months has seen many of us removed from our communal workplaces to the seclusion of our homes and most employers have been surprised that it has not affected productivity negatively but in fact the reverse. However, there has been a negative effect; it’s more intense, easy to just keep working on; we have learned to appreciate that those little snatches of conversation over the photocopier or the kettle provide moments of relief and laughter that help the day go better and that we energise each other through personal contact.
But back to Jesus’ meaning and this statement ‘ the first will be last and the last first’. It is probably a warning to the disciples not to think that because they have been chosen by him and are close to him that gives them preferential rights or pre-eminence. This meaning goes well with the rest of the chapter, a warning to the disciples about the danger they are in, supposing that, because Jesus is bringing in the kingdom of heaven, they are going to become rich and famous in their turn. That’s not what the Kingdom of God is about. They may have set out with Jesus from the very beginning but others may well come in much later and end up getting paid just the same.
Looking theologically at our text the owner is meticulous in his search for labourers, is relentless in this quest which mirrors the self-emptying love of Christ for us, never giving up on us; going out at all times of the day to ensure that all can find the work they need. But God’s grace is not the sort of thing we can bargain with or try to store up.
In every context God’s mercy disrupts our conceptions of justice, hierarchy, and honour. Christian writers have described the church as the vineyard, Christ labouring and watering it was his sweat and blood. As his disciples we are invited to labour and water in His precious vineyard as his friends.
What we actually get though from serving God is not a wage nor a reward for our work. God does not contract with us and we can’t negotiate or bargain for a better deal. God covenants with us promising us everything and everything of us in return. When he keeps his promise he is not rewarding us for our efforts but doing what comes naturally to his overflowing generous nature.
And that is a good moment to turn to our epistle. You have to admire Paul for his single-minded determination. Every situation he finds himself in is an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. It’s his number one priority and everything else that happens to him, however painful, serves that one end. To proclaim Christ is his mission statement, to coin a phrase from business speak and he exhorts the Philippians to likewise live out their lives in a way that glorifies and honours Christ. But not in the way Jonah went about it who seems about the most bad-tempered prophet we meet in Scripture. However Jonah’s short sermon is preached with attitude, his bad attitude is remarkably effective. Five Hebrew words produce 120,000 penitents. But rather than being overjoyed at the outcome it causes him dismay and the complaint to God – “ I knew you’d let them off”. (4.1-2).
One of the hardest things to accept concerning the nature of grace is that it means God can and will show mercy to our enemies. It deconstructs our fantasy that God likes the people we do and dislikes those we dislike. But maturing as a Christian is about grasping what it means in practice to say that God loves all people. For Jonah it manifests itself in the type of behaviour we expect from a teenager. “yes, I’m right to be angry. Angry enough to die”. The way out of this standoff is the route we all have to take if we are to escape a narrow, self-referential view of God: seeing things through another pair of eyes. God encourages Jonah to assume the divine perspective with his penetrating challenge “should I not be concerned about 120,000 persons….never mind all those animals”.
The cross of Christ “reveals what is implicit” in Jonah’s story. Only non-violent love can vanquish the powers of sin and death. Scripture readings this morning highlight two of the features of Christlike love. It is willing to “labour” sacrificially with the Lord in his vineyard and to welcome all who turn to him, however late in the day and whatever their previous form. God is out there in the marketplace, looking for the people everybody else tried to ignore, welcoming them on the same terms, surprising them (and everybody else) with his generous grace. It’s a lesson worth relearning.
Intercessions with Annette Bruce
Let us pray to the God of Glory in whom we live and move.
We pray that the church may hold true to the teaching of Jesus, without being persuaded that worldly values of status and ambition are suitable or acceptable in Christ’s followers. We pray for those whose faith is being challenged or undermined by inner doubts or outside influences.
We pray that all in positions of power, authority and influence in our world may recognise their calling to servanthood and never lose their identity with the needs and longings of those they serve.
We pray that all communities may look after one another, supporting the vulnerable, encouraging the timid providing practical help for all who need it, and nurturing the young in a climate of trust.
We pray for all who are marginalised, scorned or rejected; for those isolated through illness or imprisonment; for those who feel that no one understands. Surround them all with such love that they may know they are precious to you.
We pray for those approaching death, that through our prayers they may know themselves accompanied with love on that journey. We pray for those who have died, that they may come to know the full joy of heaven.
We pray that we may find new joy in giving and serving freely, rejoicing in the privilege of following Jesus.
We close with the traditional words of the Lord’s Prayer:
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.
|Day||Old Testament||New Testament|
|Monday||1 Kings 19:15-21||2 Timothy 3:14-17|
|Tuesday||1 Kings 8:63 – 9:9||Acts 16:25-40|
|Wednesday||1 Kings 10:1-25||Acts 17:1-15|
|Thursday||1 Kings 11:1-13||Acts 17:16-34|
|Friday||1 Kings 11:26-43||Acts 18:1-21|
|Saturday||1 Kings 12:1-24||Acts 18:22 – 19:7|
|Sunday||Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32||Philippians 2:1-13; Matt. 21:23-32
Our prayer for growth
God of Mission, who alone brings growth to your Church, send your Holy Spirit to give vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions and power to our witness. Help Holy Trinity and St. Margaret’s to grow in numbers, in spiritual commitment to you and in service to our local community, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen