Fifteenth Sunday in Trinity
Welcome to our service this Fifteenth Sunday in Trinity. Today our Eucharist service at church is led by Rev. Joop Albers or you can join us with this written online service.
Lord God, defend your Church from all false teaching and give to your people knowledge of your truth, that we may enjoy eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. Amen
This morning I was at Schiphol Airport, celebrating mass. We are allowed only 8 people in the chapel/Meditation Centre). Among the passengers that attended the service was a Jewish lady. She listened attentively to the sermon. Immediately after the service she asked me about things I said in my sermon, focusing on the Gospel reading. The first reading was from the book of Exodus, Together we had a conversation on the links of the Exodus reading and the Gospel. She was delighted about the message we shared.
The reading from the book of Exodus tells us that the whole congregation complains against Moses and Aaron.
Whilst I was reading this text the actual situation we live in came to my mind. At present, we see protesters in many places, countries and even continents.
The protesters rally against rules and regulations related to Covid 19.
There are also protests in Belarus (Wit Rusland) whose elections, we believe, were fraudulently managed. The outcome can’t be trusted, as many in the West, and indeed in Belarus itself, think.
In many cases protests are held when people feel ill-treated or neglected. We know of protests about income, about the sharing of the good things in life. People might feel to be lower class, to use an English expression, to be of ‘second rate’.
In the case of the turmoil in Moses’ time, people suffered starvation. As we know food is the most important aspect of life, according to the pyramide psychologist Maslow —>first food, then security, then shelter and so on….
Diving into the Gospel reading for today we also see a kind of protest.
Labourers came into action to do a job – one after another. The labourer that came first claimed to be of more value. He worked more hours and thereby deserving a higher salary. He ‘deserves his due’ as we say in English.
The person who came in last was paid his salary. The first guy expected to get more as he works more hours, His expectations became higher towards the end of the row. That’s was he thought anyway. At the end they all got the same cash. Guess who wasn’t happy.People in unions, or those who are involved in negotiations for higher salaries, find this rather odd. It seems to be against common practices.
Probably people in the board room have other ideas on this topic compared to those people in unions. We here today could ask ourselves if the story, this parable told by Jesus, is actually about equal pay. In one way it is. But not equal in a financial way. However, it is about that we all are equally in need of grace. God’s grace. Yes, indeed not about money, same pay-rise, same amount of savings.
The labourers complained. They thought they were eligible for a better financial remuneration. In fact, the grumpy labourers didn’t want others to have the same benefits. The complaints were coming from the ‘haves’ and not from the ‘have nots’.
That happened in Jesus’ time. It also happens in our society today.
People complain about refugees whilst they themselves live in a comfortable situation. Food, shelter, health care, safety is abundance.
Why don’t people want to grant the less fortunate people have their fair share? Indeed, what is fair?
Jesus was, and is, a master story teller. He always tells these wonderful stories. When you examine the parables of Jesus, they are enormously creative. Think about the parable about the Prodigal Son, the parable about the talents and so on.
In many of Jesus’ stories there is this contrast between these people and those people. These people who understand that all of life and forgiveness, the abundant life and the eternal life, that all of this is a gift from God, undeserved, unearned and a surprise.
And those people have the attitude that ‘I expected it’, that ‘I deserved it’, that ‘I earned it’. Pay me my full day’s wage.
Jesus was telling the people around him that salvation was available to everyone, but only a few were going to take him up on his offer.
Some people accept Jesus, and have the joy of working for God for many years. Some people put off accepting Jesus until late in life, even until they are about to die. They only get to serve the Lord a short time. Maybe more ‘working’ hours’ in church. God makes salvation available to us all. Whether you are a lifelong Christian, or a new-be. That is the message for us here.
For those of us who accept the Lord early on, we should be humble and value that we were chosen to develop a wonderful relationship with our Lord. We should not be resentful of those who genuinely confess Christ as Saviour later in life.
God invites each and everyone. Some join early in life, others later. The early starters and the late comers are equally welcome. In the reading for the book of Exodus, we read that the Israelites received bread from heaven.
And so do we here today.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for this Your holy day of rest and peace, and for our faith with which You have blessed us; may this faith guide and support us as we live our lives in these times of great changes and uncertainties;
As we digest the implications of a hurricane occurring in the Mediterranean, the forest fires around the North Pole, and the recent upturn in the Covid19 virus, we cannot but wonder if this is not a further warning to the world to turn to You, as in the time of Jonah and Nineveh.
But it is easy to place the blame on others for global warning and all the other problems facing the world, but we, the Church, are just as guilty of carelessness and luke-warmness in our service of You,
Heavenly Father, despite our shortcomings we fall back on Your infinite mercy and love, and we bring before You our concerns, and the countless victims of the disasters at this time afflicting the world, not only the so-called natural disasters, but also the many victims of war, and those suffering under inhumane and oppressive regimes;
We pray for all rulers, all those in positions of power and influence; turn their hearts to a consciousness of You, God, their all-loving Maker and only hope;
We pray especially for our monarchs, Elizabeth and Willem Alexander, that they may continue faithfully to fulfil the roles You have entrusted to them;
Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for the Church in its present apparent helplessness in the face of so many enemies;
fill it with Your Holy Spirit, and renew in it the hope of Your Son’s return in power;
Inspire its ministers to discern Your will, and empower them to do the same, that in the light of their witness others may see Your presence in the world and turn to You;
Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for all in distress at this time, all sick and suffering; the lonely, the mentally ill and the bereaved;
We pray particularly for our own congregation, for those on our Chaplaincy Prayer List,
for those too frail or handicapped to be present with us in Church;
and for those for whom we personally wish to pray . . . . . . .
Comfort, O God, all in distress, relieve them from their suffering if it be Your will,
and lift them up in Your everlasting arms;
Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Heavenly Father, we wonder what the future holds for us and the world, but You have promised to provide light in the darkness for those who trust in You: in our weakness we turn to You, and pray You to give us faith that You will guide us along the narrow path to You;
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen
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, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ. Amen.