Bulletin – 25 Sep 2011

Welcome!
Today we welcome Peter and Rachel Carlson and their family to church. Rachel is Peter and Joan Woodward’s daughter. Peter and Joan were a part of this congregation some years ago. In our worship today, Peter and Rachel will share with us their work with Wycliff and their plans to travel to PNG.

Where is Mark?
This Sunday Mark is leading the Life and Witness Consultation at Queanbeyan Uniting Church. Next Weekend Mark and his family will be at Blackstump after which he is taking one week’s holiday.
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Prayer Points – 25 Sep 2011

For our GUC Community:

  • We pray for Rachel and Peter Carlson in their work and ministry.
  • We pray for Jeanette Deo who is in hospital at this time.
  • We pray for those from our Congregation who will be at Black Stump next weekend.
  • We pray for Noeleen and her son Paul and his family.
  • We pray for people in our congregation who quietly live with pain and worry in their lives.

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The last will be first

Year A Pentecost 20
Matthew 20:1-16

The Laborers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5 When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6 And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:1-16
© The New Revised Standard Version,

(Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1989

In the name of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

We all know that we have a huge refugee crisis in Australia. I mean if you listen to some of our politicians we soon learn that we are being swamped by people trying to get to Australia, or at the very least, about to be swamped by people illegally trying to get to Australia. Surely these people who are coming by boat are queue jumpers and it’s simply not fair. After all we were here first; well first as in we have been here for 200 years now; a long time really. And we have worked hard, long hours, long years, to make this country what it is today, so it is obviously unjust, unfair, that these people coming here in boats should be given the opportunities that we have worked so hard for, …paid for with our tax dollars. It’s just the way it is… those who have worked for it deserve to have the reward.

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

So now they are talking about a carbon tax; where we have to pay a large amount each, for the small amount of pollution Australia contributes to our environmental crisis; if there even is a crisis. Did you know that Australia contributes just 1.3% of global C02 emissions while China contributes 23.3%? Why should Australia take the first step when the biggest polluters in our world are doing nothing? Why should we give up our hard earned money, our living standards, when other countries are the ones who are doing the most harm to the environment? Do we really think if Australia cuts it’s emissions by 5% when we contribute only 1.3% of global emissions it will make any difference? Why should we have to be the first to give up what we have earned? Aren’t we bearing the burden more than we deserve?

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Don’t you love those old fashioned paintings that show images of heaven and hell; heaven golden at the top, and hell, all dark and fiery red at the bottom. And usually there are little figures, people; the saints, and the sinners, the good and the bad, those who are saved and those who are…. well… not. The thing is when you look closely at the people in those paintings…. Some of them are recognisable…. It’s like you see people who know… and I can see myself at the top… near one of those saints dressed in blue… after all I’ve stuck closely to the faith, and the rules, I’m a good man, and then I’m sure I recognise a few people I’ve met over the years… at the bottom. It’s great, every day, every week, every time we hear the news, every time something terrible happens to us, or to others, when we are good, and others dismal failures…. Sometimes people deserve what they get you know…

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

I could talk about health care, distribution of food and services, or social classes…

Today’s parable could be called the “Generous Landowner”, and is found in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew was writing his events of the life of Jesus to a particularly Jewish group of people, a particularly Jewish community who would have spent long years in faithful observance of the law, or the Jewish Torah. These faithful Jewish people would have grown up with the law, had it instilled in them, and they would have laboured under its weight and expectation. And then comes Jesus, who eats with the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, socialises with Gentiles, Samaritans, and embraces the outcast, the leper, the woman with the haemorrhage, so that suddenly this Jewish image of God, as one who acts in strict justice, by law, is challenged by Jesus, to be a God of grace, of relationship, of equality.

The stunning thing is, it’s even hard for Christians to understand this at times. To accept a God of grace.

In Palestine in Jesus’ day, as our reading says, the “usual daily wage” was about a denarius and the workers had to be paid each day, before sundown. It was the Jewish law. But in today’s passage when the workers are all called to be paid before sundown, we too find it curious, we too feel the sense of injustice and resentment that those who have borne the burden of a full day’s work receive the same as those who were put on to work later in the day. And here we have a dilemma about justice.

  • Does justice mean being paid the exact amount agreed upon, when all the workers were paid the “usual daily wage”?
  • Or is justice receiving what we feel we deserve… more than others?
  • Why do we begrudge God’s grace towards others… when we have received abundant grace in our own lives?
  • Do we really believe that people get what they deserve… what do you deserve….

But [the landowner] replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Amen.

Bulletin – 18 Sep 2011

WWW (What Women Want) Movie Night – “The Help”
Ladies and Girls please join us on Friday evening the 23rd September at Hoyts Belconnen to see the latest release “The Help”. This movie has got great reviews. We will keep you posted on the time once they are released. Please let Lynne or Elizabeth know if you are coming. We will send you an email once we know final details.
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Prayer Points – 18 Sep 2011

For our GUC Community:

  • We pray for leaders for our church life in 2012.
  • We pray for our community events together; the Curry Night and the Spring Getaway!
  • We pray for those who will help lead worship in the coming month.
  • We pray for those in our congregation who are finding life overwhelming at this time.
  • We pray for those whose lives seem consumed and where hope is a distant thing.

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