October 4, 2020 Service




Due to copywrite limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.

In-person worship has resumed at the Morris United Church at 11:00 AM.  Since we are still in the midst of a pandemic and desire to keep each other as safe as possible, we ask that you sanitize your hands when you enter the building.  Masks are mandatory as is social distancing.  We will speak the liturgy but will not be singing the songs.  The musicians will play the music.  You are invited to hum along, move with the beat and meditate on the words.

We realize this is not our preferred way to worship, yet worship does not depend upon our outward appearance and distancing.  It is our connection to God and each other that sets our hearts and minds to praise and worship our glorious creator!

If you are not feeling well, we request that you remain at home and continue to worship online or with the printed service.  We understand if you do not feel secure about in-person worship and desire to worship from home.

However you choose to worship, know that we are worshipping together and that we continue to pray for each other and look out for our neighbour.


The obstacle is the path.

         ~Zen Proverb


          In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells a vineyard parable, which serves as an image of Israel, the prophets’ mission, and Christ’s death. For Christians, the vineyard also speaks of God’s love poured out in the blood of Christ, given to us for the forgiveness of sin. Grafted onto Christ the vine at baptism, we are nourished with wine and bread so that we may share Christ’s sufferings and know the power of his resurrection.

As Christ himself reminds us, he is our rock, our cornerstone. Jesus is the foundation for our faith and the foundation for our lives. Even as we turn from Jesus, even as we reject Jesus, he returns to us with love and forgiveness. This is the grace of God, the love of God coming into our world and into our lives. To our joy we discover the open arms of Jesus on the cross, bringing life into this world even where there is death; bringing hope where there is despair; and bringing resurrection to all creation.



       Great indeed is the faithfulness of God, and yet our hearts are not so reliable. We wander. We argue. We forget. We divide ourselves with anger and bitterness and falsehood. Let’s try to come back together again, and let’s start with the truth. Let’s confess our sins, to God, and also, to each other.

       Almighty God, mother of mercy, father of grace: You have called us to one table, but we have pursued our own course. You have promised us the abundance of all creation, but in our greed, and in our envy, the world goes without. You have promised us the bread of life itself, but in our pride, and in our arrogance, the world goes hungry. You have promised us the waters of peace and justice, but in our violence, and in our discord, the world goes thirsty. And now we are famished, too, Lord. Have mercy on us. Forgive us, again. Transform us, at this table, and for this table, and send us from this table as servants of your righteousness, by the power of your Son, our Lord. Amen.

       Even when our cups run dry, God’s grace overflows.  Even when our plates are empty, God’s generosity overflows.  And even when our hearts feel barren, God’s love overflows.  Friends, you have been called and claimed by the God of all things, and by the abundance of God’s grace, and by the power of God’s love, your sins have been forgiven.  Amen.

CHILDREN’S SONG:    VU #664  What A Friend We Have In Jesus


Almighty God, even as the drums of warfare beat on through the night, even as the cries of injustice linger in the morning, even as the hustle of busyness rumbles through the day, quiet our hearts. Still our thoughts. Join us in our worship. Remember us in your mercy as we try to remember you, through the proclamation of your good news, in story and in song, and through the hospitality of your gracious table. Welcome us again, one Lord, Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


When I was a child, I loved Sundays!!  I loved going to Sunday school and worship, seeing my cousins and friends; I loved to sing; I loved seeing my godparents AND I REALLY LOVED visiting people on Sunday afternoon, or having them come to our house for supper!  That was what people did – way back when, when the earth was young… Mom always took extra care cooking the food and set out the china, but that wasn’t what made the meal special.  What made it special were the people who were around the table, the people whom I loved and who gave me joy.

          I love serving and having communion.  One summer, when I was in Ottawa, I led the worship service at the church in which I grew up.  I communed those beautiful people who knew me before I was born.  I blessed them, and they looked up and smiled at me, and I almost started to cry!  The love that was in that sanctuary as I served the people with whom I grew up, made my heart happy.  It felt like Jesus was standing next to me, smiling at those beautiful people, loving them, forgiving them, hugging them. 

          Today is World Wide Communion.  As we have the bread and wine here, in Morris, people around the world will also be having bread and wine.  We are celebrating the love of Jesus around the entire planet at the same time!  How cool is that!  Jesus is loving us, hugging us, forgiving us, the entire planet, at the same time!  Communion is a love meal.  Jesus invites us to eat with him, receive his love and forgiveness, and then go out into the world to share that love and food with others.

          Yep, I still love Sundays and I still love visiting people and having people visit.  That’s what life with Jesus is all about!




Mission & Service Supports Access To Education in Zambia

Access to education is a major challenge in Zambia, especially in rural areas where the majority live below the poverty line. An estimated 500,000 children of primary and secondary school age that should be in school are out of school. Rural children, especially girls, are more likely to drop out of the school system or not be enrolled at all.  Traditional attitudes towards women, poverty, early marriage, gender-based violence, lack of sanitation facilities, and a choice to use scarce resources to educate boys rather than girls can all stand in the way of women and girls fully participating in education.

Women for Change is a Mission & Service-funded global partner that empowers girls and women through education.  They understand it takes more than money, books, and shoes to motivate girls to remain in school. Particularly in rural areas there are few role models of women with higher education to inspire girls and show them the difference education can make. Supported in part by United Church Women, Women for Change wants to focus on programming that will create opportunities to give girls and young women living in rural areas an extra push and some extra support to remain in school.

Twenty-five-year-old Chiyeza Ndhlovu is one of 10 children. Her parents are small-hold farmers who have worked hard to ensure all 10 of their children graduate from high school. Chiyeza is the first in her family to go to university and will graduate this year with a degree in natural sciences. The path has not been easy.

Chiyeza describes her situation, “I grew up in a family full of economic hardships. During my primary years of education, it was never easy for me. Sometimes I had leave school due to non-payment of school fees. Because of the household chores I was expected to do as a girl I had less time to study. Despite the hardships I graduated to grade 10 and went to Sanje Boarding school. In my first term, I was chased out of class because my parents were unable to pay for my school fees and I stayed out of school for some time.”

A sponsorship by Women for Change meant Chiyeza could finish her secondary school education and pursue her dream of a university education. Chiyeza says, “I would like to express my gratitude to Women for Change and its donors for their great and mighty works of helping people like me. I hope they will continue helping more vulnerable children in the communities of Zambia.”

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much!  If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith.  Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission and service


Almighty God, give us ears to hear your story in these words of Scripture; give us eyes to see your story in the faces of those that surround us; and give us faith enough, that by your grace, we might serve you until the end of our days.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7

The prophet sings a sad, parable-like love song about the relationship between God and Israel. In this song Israel is compared to a promising vineyard. Despite God’s loving care, the vineyard that is Israel has brought forth “wild grapes” of injustice and distress, when fine grapes of justice and righteousness were expected.

1Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.  2He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

3And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.  4What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?  When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?

5And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.  I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.  6I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed;
righteousness, but heard a cry!

Psalm 80:7-15

R:  Look down from heaven, O God; behold and tend this vine. (Ps. 80:14, 15)

7Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
8You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you cast out the nations and planted it.
9You cleared the ground for it; it took root and filled the land.
10The mountains were covered by its shadow and the towering cedar trees by its boughs. R
11You stretched out its tendrils to the sea and its branches to the river.
12Why have you broken down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
13The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it, and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.
14Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven;
15behold and tend this vine; preserve what your right hand has planted. R


Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14

Paul reviews some of his supposed credentials, which no longer have any bearing in comparison to the right relationship he has been given through the death of Christ. The power of Christ’s resurrection motivates him to press on toward the ultimate goal, eternal life with Christ.

 4bIf anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised 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; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
  7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More 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 9and 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. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow, I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

  12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-46

Jesus tells a parable to the religious leaders who are plotting his death, revealing that their plans will, ironically, bring about the fulfillment of scripture.

 33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41They 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.”  42Jesus 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’?

43Therefore I tell you; the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

  45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.



Wherever there are people, someone will work hard to try to get the edge and take advantage of somebody else. Cheating and stealing have been present in our world just about as long as there has been a world. The problem doesn’t just exist in cities – it is everywhere.

Our Gospel text this morning finds Jesus telling just such a story. On the surface this parable is a story about sharecroppers and landlords.  Yet, as with any of Jesus’ parables, there is a much deeper, spiritual, meaning to this story. God, as many interpreters see it, is the landowner. The vineyard is the realm of God. The tenants are presumed to be the Israelites. The produce is the fruit of righteous living which consists of the love of God and the love of neighbor. The servants are the long line of prophets that God sent to warn Israel to change the way it lived.  The son is understood to be Jesus, who here states another prophecy–that he also would be killed. The new tenants are the new chosen people. They are identified as the gentiles. They are us. 

As we read this parable it is easy for us to see that big trouble is brewing for the Israelites. For centuries the Israelites lived their lives virtually ignoring everything that God wanted them to do. The story could go back to the beginning with Adam and Eve. God gave them instructions, which they chose to ignore. The disobedience continues with the Israelites and Moses. It would seem that every time that Moses turned around the chosen people were ignoring Moses and grumbling against God. Then there were the judges and the kings (many of whom turned away from God themselves) and then the prophets. All of them were sent to warn the people that God would hold them accountable for what they did in the Divine’s vineyard. Again and again the Israelites ignored God. So, God sent Jesus. With Jesus’ coming, and now prophesied death, the end would come for God’s patience with the Israelites and the vineyard would be given to someone else. Today, we understand that to be the Church of Jesus Christ.  We understand it to be us. 

There is yet another layer to this parable.  The writer of Matthew’s gospel didn’t really intend for this parable to focus on the Israelites.  Rather, the parable is intended for our ears to hear.   Remember, these stories were not written down until many years after the death of Jesus. For the writer of Matthew’s gospel, the realm of God was now in the hands of a few Jewish converts and the gentiles. So, is this a story of great joy? Christians are now the tenants of the realm of God.  Or, is it a story of sorrow? The Israelites have lost the position of looking after the realm of God. Or, is there another layer present? As I read and study this story it seems very clear to me that there is yet another layer here.   There is a clear warning to the current tenants of the vineyard — us.   We are being warned that If we don’t produce fruit in the vineyard, we, too, could lose our position.

The question of the day, then, is:  “How are we doing?” As a society, I fear that the answer would have to be, “Not very well.” I can’t help but think of the current political and global arena. It is enough to make Jesus weep

On February 26, 1995, Barings, the oldest bank in Great Britain, announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection after losing nearly one billion dollars in a stock scheme. At the time Barings went under, the bank held assets for Queen Elizabeth, some $100 million according to Time magazine.  In late 1994, the chief stock trader at Baring’s Singapore office began betting big, without authorization, on the Japanese stock market. That is when disaster struck. An earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, and on January 23, 1995 the Japanese stock market plunged more than one thousand points.  Barings Bank lost and they lost big.

However, instead of cutting his losses, Baring’s Singapore trader doubled his investment, apparently hoping that the market would rebound. It failed to do so. As the market continued in free-fall, he began to work at different ways to cover-up the loss and things continued to get worse.

Barings’ London office ended up placing nearly $900 million in an effort to shore up its falling position in the Far East, due to the Singapore investments. Finally Barings Bank ran out of capital. Having no other alternative, the bank declared bankruptcy.  How could one twenty-eight-year-old trader in Singapore lose nearly a billion dollars and ruin a British bank with more than 200 years of history? According to Time magazine, the problem was lack of accounting standards and accountability. 

Barings London allowed the trader to take control of both the trading desk and the accounting operation in Singapore. It is a mix that can be, and in this case was, absolutely devastating. For a trader to keep his own books is like allowing child who is failing school to grade their own test papers; the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming, particularly if the stakes are high enough. 

All too often we are the wicked tenants in the story.  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.”  How can we claim to love God and not use what God has given us to benefit God’s realm? We have been entrusted with much;  time, talents and money. For what purpose do we use them?  All too often we use far more for our personal gain than we use for the realm of God. 

Jesus’ commandment continues on. He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How can we claim to love our neighbors and do so little to share the Gospel with them? Are we hiding the treasure of the Gospel from God’s people?  In the parable the Israelites lost the vineyard because they failed to produce fruit to share with the landowner. Today we are the tenants. Are we producing fruit? Are we sharing that fruit with the landowner? If the writer of Matthew intended this parable to be a warning to the Church that we too could lose the Kingdom, and I believe that it is, I fear we are well on the way.

Think for a moment about something else that Jesus said.  Remember his words to the church at Laodicea in the Book of Revelation, “I know what you do, that you are not hot or cold. I wish that you were hot or cold!  But because you are lukewarm, I am ready to spit you out of my mouth.” Yet another warning. Are we hot, cold, or simply lukewarm. Are we producing fruit for the landowner, or are we just taking up room in the vineyard and not giving the landowner his due. 

This story is not one of only warning.  There is good news in this parable as well. When the landowner sent the first servants they were killed. By all rights he could have gone and taken over the vineyard right then. He probably should have, but he didn’t. Instead, he sent more servants. When they were treated in the same way, he sent his son.  That says to me that the landowner was a man who gave a second chance and even a third. Sounds as though the owner of the vineyard was very gracious.

Grace is a gift that we don’t deserve and yet we get it anyway. The tenants in the story didn’t deserve a second chance. They absolutely didn’t deserve a third. That is grace.  Since the landowner in the parable is God, that tells me that God is one to give us another chance. God is a God of grace. God is a God of love. God will forgive us.  That is good news for all of us who are tenants of the vineyard. Whether we have been involved in a little shady accounting or just fallen a bit short of loving the Lord our God and loving our neighbor as our self, through God’s wonderful grace we will be given another chance. It isn’t too late for us to turn things around in the vineyard and start producing the fruit of the Kingdom for God, the landowner. 

The God we serve is a God of grace, a God of love, and a God of forgiveness. Our God will give us a second chance, a third chance, a twenty-fifth chance or even more. God will listen and hear our prayers of confession, our shortcomings, the ways that we have failed in our work in the vineyard. Then, through those prayers, God will forgive us and fill us with love and  grace, making us ready to go out once again to do work in the vineyard.  Amen.


HYMN OF THE MONTH:  MV #134  There Was A Child In Galilee





With confidence in God’s grace and mercy, let us pray for the church, the world, and all those in need.

Holy God, you call us to work for peace and justice in your vineyard. Refresh the church with your life, that we may bear fruit through work and service.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Thank you for the abundant harvest of the earth. Bless and care for those whose hands bring the fruits of the earth to the tables of all who hunger. May we be inspired by your servants who cared deeply for your creation, especially Francis of Assisi, whom we commemorate today.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Curb the impulses of greed and pride that lead us to take advantage of others. Grant that world leaders seek the fruits of the kingdom for the good and welfare of all people.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Sustain all who suffer with the promise of new life. Assured of your presence, heal our pain and suffering, and equip us to embrace all bodies aching for wholeness of mind, body, and soul. We call to mind those who are struggling today:  Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Gordon Dreger; Walter Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for all managers in our community and for all who seek employment. Give hope and a future to those who lack meaningful work, those who have been marginalized or abused in the workplace, and those who desire new opportunities.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Thank you for the saints who teach us to live faithfully in your vineyard. May our chorus join theirs until our labor is complete.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Listen as we call on you, O God, and enfold in your loving arms all for whom we pray, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.




You were called to Christ’s table. You have been fed at Christ’s table. You have been united at this table. Now, you are sent into all the world. Go therefore into the world, with courage. Set a place for all who hunger. Fill the cup of all who thirst. And as you go, may the Spirit of power and love attend you, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ uphold you, and may the great faithfulness of our God sustain you, now and forever.  Amen.

SENDING SONG:  VU #325  Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation


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