Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of 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 of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.


“Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.”

~Albert Camus


Jonah had a hard time getting comfortable with himself, and, even more so, Jonah was uneasy embracing the wideness of God’s grace.

The same can be said about the laborers in Jesus’ parable here in Matthew 20.

Like Jonah, they are uncomfortable with the unchecked mercy offered by the landowner/God. God doesn’t play by our rules, and that can be very discomforting for us all.

Our discomfort with grace manifests itself in all sorts of ways. It can be discomforting for us to engage the poor and the outcast of our society. It can be discomforting for us to welcome immigrants into our communities. It can be discomforting to address the pervasive racism that still surrounds us. And it can be very discomforting for us to open our lives to the transforming power of the cross of Christ, whereby “the last will be first, and the first will be last”.

Could it be that the more uncomfortable we become with the reckless love of God, the closer we are to understanding the meaning of grace?


We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Faithful God, help us to be gentle with one another in times of trouble. Help us always and unceasingly to put our trust in you. Help us to be not afraid. Help us to walk out from behind our closed doors to serve others as disciples of Christ in the presence and power of your Holy Spirit. Give us confidence and hearts so full of love for justice that we will not cease to work for the good of others, and for healing and for reconciliation between all peoples. In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Give thanks to the Lord for God is good.

We will call on God’s name and make known God’s wonderful works.

Seek the Lord continually.

We will watch and listen for signs of God’s grace.

Together let us worship God.

We will rejoice in God’s presence and praise God’s holy name.

CHILDREN’S SONG:  VU 357  Tell Me The Stories of Jesus


God of all creation, you open the world around us and fill it with creatures of your love and purpose.   The wonder of each creature declares your praise – the mountains state your majesty; the ripened field, your generosity; the oceans your power and the skies your grandeur.  Birds flying aloft sing of your freedom; the tiny ant works with your persistence.  And what do we declare about you in our lives?  We pray that our work will honour your justice and mercy; and our relationships speak of your love and compassion.  So may we praise you, O God, not just in this hour of worship, but in all our waking and our working.  May we live your praise and promise through Christ, our Living Lord.  Amen.

CLWR:  Elizabeth’s story

IN EARLY 2022, Elizabeth was a high school student in Kharkiv, Ukraine with dreams of being an artist when rockets exploded in a courtyard 40 metres from her home.

“We fled with the clothes on our backs and our documents,” her mother Irina says, and the family made it to a small village outside of Lviv.

Elizabeth’s life was upended, moving across the country to a house that had been abandoned for eight years, had no household supplies or running water, and needed serious renovations. Her mother could not continue her IT job as there was no reliable internet in the village.

Shortly after they arrived, there was a knock on the door, from Father Alek, who manages a local organization that partners with ACT Alliance member Hungarian Interchurch Aid. “I heard you are displaced and have just arrived here. How can I help? What do you need?” he asked.

The family received clothes, food, a frying pan to cook with, even a refrigerator when they had electricity working in the house.

“The most important thing is that it is quiet here,” says Irina. “There is no shelling.”

Throughout the experience, Elizabeth has continued with her art, though the colours became stark, the imagery disturbing. But as life has calmed down in her new home, and she was able to finish high school, her art has gotten brighter again. And as she gets more comfortable, she is beginning to look towards her career in art, offering commissions and to sell her work.

Your support has allowed CLWR’s partners around the world to respond with compassion for people like Elizabeth, meeting needs and sharing hope with those in crisis.


I like Tim Hortons coffee.  If I forget my travel mug, I must remember to get a paper sleeve for my cup, because the coffee is very hot and the cup becomes too hot to hold.  Now, take two cup sleeves and put one on top of the other.  Notice, they are the same size.

However, if you hold out one sleeve at arm’s length, and then hold the second sleeve just behind and above the first sleeve, anyone standing in front of you will say, “Hey, one sleeve is shorter than the other!”, when in fact, they are the same size.

Ok, so switch the positions of the two sleeves.  Guess what?  They still look like the top one is smaller than the bottom one, when they are both the same size!!

What is the point of this exercise?  Well, in life, it would seem that God loves some people more than others because they have more “stuff” than the rest of us.  More money, more than one car, a bigger house, they can afford to travel around the world…yep, it would seem as if God loves them more.

Then, if you asked that person, who seems to have more, they might say that YOU have more because you have a loving family, you have supportive friends, you have a faith family with whom you worship God and have fun together.  So, then it may seem as if God loves YOU more than THEM!

Here’s the truth.  God does not love some people more than others.  God loves us all, a whole bunch, every single person on the planet!  Like the two cup sleeves, depending upon how you look at life, sure, it may seem that God favours some people more.  Yet we know the two cup sleeves are the same size, and we know that people are people, all the same, all over the world.  Just because something SEEMS to be a certain way, doesn’t mean it is.

Jesus wants us to love everyone the same, just like God loves everyone the same.  When we love people equally, the world is much happier.  No one is left out.  Everyone is included.  That is the best world in which to live!  Thank you Jesus!


Holy God, your thoughts are not our thoughts, and your ways are not our ways. As we hear your Word read and proclaimed, guide us by your Spirit, so that our thoughts and our ways are transformed by your grace, through Christ, your Living Word. Amen.


First Reading: Jonah 3:10–4:11

After Jonah’s short sermon in 3:4, the Ninevites all repented and God decided to spare the city. Jonah objected to this and became even more angry when God ordered a worm to destroy a plant that was providing shade. The book ends with a question that challenges any who are not ready to forgive: You, Jonah, are all worked up about a bush, but shouldn’t I be concerned about a hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites?

10When God saw what  did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
4:1But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

6The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

9But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

Psalm 145:1-8

1I will exalt you, my God and king, and bless your name forever and ever.

2Every day will I bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 

3Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!  There is no end to your greatness.

4One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your power. 

5I will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and all your marvelous works.

6They shall tell of the might of your wondrous acts, and I will recount your greatness. 

7They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness; they shall sing joyfully of your righteousness.

8The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

Second Reading: Philippians 1:21-30

Paul writes to the Philippians from prison. Though he is uncertain about the outcome of his imprisonment, he is committed to the ministry of the gospel and calls on the Philippians to live lives that reflect and enhance the gospel mission.

21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

27Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus tells a parable about God’s generosity, challenging the common assumption that God rewards people according to what they have earned or deserve.

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

HYMN:  VU 506  Take My Life And Let It Be


In some developing nations the people gather daily in the town square looking for work in the hope that they will earn enough to feed their family for that day.  To not find work is to go hungry.  The strong and the young are chosen first.  They get the full day’s pay.  But the others, the old and infirm, remain in hope that someone will still choose them for work.  If more workers are required the employers will come back.  The strong who are still waiting are chosen first and just maybe there will be enough work for the old and infirm.  To not be chosen is to not eat.

For all of these people who gather, work is not a luxury or something to avoid, it is essential for survival.  To hire a person at the end of the day is to provide the food needed to survive that day.

This parable is not a story about fairness, it is a story about sustenance.  The owner says to those who worked all day, “Friend I do you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual day’s wages?”  And we want to answer with the first chosen, “But…but.”

We want to read this parable as one about fairness, yet God is not cooperating with our wants.  There is the employer handing out the same wage to those who worked one hour as those who worked twelve.  If this parable has something to do with faith, it is still unfair.  When God checks the heavenly bank accounts, will there be no difference?  Perhaps God’s ways are not our ways but they should at least be fair!  Well, God does not play fair.

There was a newspaper story in the 1990’s of a man who sold his asphalt company for $422 million.  That was not the reason for the story, but it became a story worthy of newspaper attention when he gave $128 million to his workers.  For those with pensions he gave $2000/year for each year worked and for those without pensions he gave between $ 1 million and $2 million depending on years of service.

As you might expect the workers were overjoyed.  They were not simply without a job; they were set for life.  In a very self-effacing manner, the owner said he wanted to share some of his good fortune with those workers who had been loyal for so many years.  This was one of those feel-good stories that newspapers run on occasion, the odd, quirky sort of news.

Our reaction to such a story is one of amazement that someone could be so generous.  We might go so far as to say, “Well, he still has $300 million.”  No, this was truly a generous act toward employees who had no right to expect it.  This was truly a strange sort of generosity.  Whoever heard of a professional athlete saying, “I only need $80,000 to care for myself, so I will give the other $6 million away.  The bank CEO’s do not make news by announcing that their stock options for the year have been turned over to the poor in the inner cities.

This business owner is certainly not typical.  This is not good business practice.  It is at best off-beat and quirky.  Such generosity does not come naturally to many people.

There is an old proverb which states:  When we get what we deserve, that is justice.  When we don’t get what we deserve, that is mercy.  When we get what we don’t deserve, that is grace.

Clinging to our sense of fairness reveals how we misunderstand God’s ways.  God’s realm is not based on what is fair but on what we need.  We need grace; grace that overlooks all we are and all we have done and said; grace that allows us to stand in line hoping that God will smile upon us.  Fairness is not what we want because if fairness were the measure can any of us say that we have always been fair in our relationships with others?

Are we overjoyed that others received the grace of God no matter how little they seemed to deserve it by our measure?  For us to truly appreciate God’s grace is to be only too happy to see others receive what they need.

Today’s parable, and our immediate reaction to it, reveals that we may not always be motivated by grace. The pay for our labours, at first glance, seems fair, after all, we agree to the terms when we take the job.  But when the owner decides to give the same “daily wage” to those who worked less time, even one hour, those who were hired first are envious, jealous and resentful.  At least, if those who were hired last received so much, there must be a bonus in it for us!

Again, it is not about what we deserve but about what we need.

We would feel more comfortable with a formula.  In last week’s gospel, Peter is looking for a formula for forgiveness.  “Is seven times enough?”  Today we hear the story of the workers in the vineyard.  Just prior to this text in Chapter19, a rich young man comes to Jesus to ask what good deeds he must do to enter the Realm of Heaven.  Jesus tells him to sell all he has and come follow.  Peter picks up on this story and says to Jesus, “We have given up everything!  What are we going to get?”  Peter still wants a formula.  Jesus tells the parable of the workers to say that there is no formula, God does not work that way!  The mathematics of grace is that everyone wins.  You only lose if you begrudge the fact that there are no losers.  To the hungry, God gives nourishment.

We do not live a moral and upright life so that God will love us, nor as a result of God loving us, but we do so as our response to the gracious love of God.  Our response demonstrates who we really are.  For those who have been faithful for so many years, there is the joy of living a faithful life.  Not everyone has had this opportunity.  For those who have come to faith later in life, God’s grace is no less wonderful.

We are all invited to be workers in the vineyard.  Knowing God’s grace that is offered to us, we want to let everyone know about this wonderful gift of God.  We want to spread the good news that Jesus died for everyone, to invite everyone to be a part of God’s commonwealth.

I close with a story by Anthony de Mello.  His stories always call us to see ourselves as one of the characters.  I leave it to each of you to determine that for yourselves:

The commonwealth of God is like two brothers who were called by God to give up all they had and serve humanity.

The older brother responded to the call generously, though he had to wrench his heart from his family and the girl he loved and dreamed of marrying.  He eventually went off to a distant land where he spent himself in the service of the poorest of the poor.  A persecution arose in that country and he was arrested, falsely accused, tortured and put to death.

God said to the older brother, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You gave a thousand talents’ worth of service.  I shall now give you a billion, billion talents’ worth of reward.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

The younger brother’s response to the call was less than generous.  He decided to ignore it and go ahead and marry the girl he loved.  He enjoyed a happy married life, his business prospered and he became famous and rich.  Occasionally he would give alms to the poor.

When it was his turn to die God said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have given me ten talents’ worth of service.  I shall give you a billion, billion talents’ worth of reward.  Enter into the joy of your Lord!

The older brother was surprised when he heard that his brother was to get the same reward as he.  And he was pleased.  He said, “Lord, knowing this as I do, if I were born to live my life again, I would still do exactly what I did for you.”

May it be so.  Amen.

Hymn Of The Month:  VU 578  A Fire Is Meant For Burning


Remembering the caring and generous works of God, we pray for the church, creation, and the needs of our neighbors.

God who is gracious and merciful, teach your church to invite and welcome all. Lead us to be grateful for the blessing of community. Challenge your church to choose equity and compassion over judgment. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

God who sends the wind and the sun, you know every worm and bush by name. Help us remember that even the humblest parts of creation are precious to you. Show us how best to care for the earth and its creatures. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

God who is ready to relent from punishing, impart your compassionate wisdom to legislators, judges, members of the military, and law enforcement. Give them courage to serve their communities in times of uncertainty, stress, or exhaustion. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

God who saves, direct your people who are tempted by evil ways. Protect your children from calamity and disaster. Strengthen all who are incarcerated. Encourage all who are in despair or pain of any kind. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

God who is slow to anger, may we boast about the goodness of Jesus with the confidence of Paul in prison. Inspire us to find abundance in whatever vocation we are called to in the world and in service to our congregation. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

God who abounds in steadfast love, we give thanks for the saints called to the kingdom of heaven. United with them in spirit, hold us firm as we labor in this life and look to the life to come. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Remember us according to your steadfast love as we offer these and the prayers of our heart, trusting in your compassion made known through Jesus Christ.



SENDING SONG:  VU 87  I Am The Light Of The World


Go, remembering God’s generosity to us in Christ and in creation. Be generous in kind and in kindness to all who reach out to you.

May the power of the Spirit strengthen you, and the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge fill you with the fullness of God this day and evermore.  Amen.


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