Sunday, September 21st, 2014
A Prayer For Today
Bountiful God, we praise your Holy Name.
We come before You as little children. Our eyes are wide open in the presence of Your majesty. Our hearts are astonished at Your magnificence. Our minds are amazed at the miracles You perform. Make us innocent by Your grace, and help us restore peace in our world. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Author of Today’s Reading
St Matthew the Apostle
St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the first Gospel. This has been the constant tradition of the Church and is confirmed by the Gospel itself. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collector’s place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the “Levi” of Mark and Luke.
His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.
St. Matthew’s Gospel was written to fill a sorely felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, “Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the “Hebrew tongue” mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, i.e., between 42 AD and 50 AD or even later. Definitely, however, the Gospel, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of our Lord’s prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 AD, and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.
Our Old Testament Reading
Isaiah 55:6-9 NIV
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Our New Testament Reading
Matthew 20: 1-16 NIV
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Hymn For Today
Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire
by: Hal H. Hopson
(born 12 June 1933)
Mr Hopson is a full-time composer and church musician residing in Dallas, Texas.
He has over 1000 published works, which comprise almost every musical form in church music.
1 Though I may speak with bravest fire,
And have the gift to all inspire,
And have not love, my words are vain,
As sounding brass, and hopeless gain.
2 Though I may give all I possess,
And striving so my love profess,
But not be given by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.
3 Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed.
Bon Voyage performance at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, SC on 5-4-14
Thanks Be To God!
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