Sunday 20th September 2020
16th Sunday after Pentecost

Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

(Alternatives: Jonah 3:10-4:11; Psalm 145:1-8 )

The Gospel reading for today connects us with the world of employment as once again Jesus draws on workplace experience to illustrate His point. We might use this to reflect on those who feel unfairly treated in the world of work, which opens up an number of possibilities. Many, particularly in the Public Sector, feel that they have unfairly lost pension rights, others may be forced to confront redundancy or reduced pay and conditions. We might also reflect on those who are low paid, and those who sense unfairness because they are unable to find work and employment, particularly the young and recently qualified. The Gospel story of course, expresses unfairness in a quite opposite way - it is the generosity of the landowner which causes some to question whether they have been treated unfairly. Without becoming too simplistic, we might remind people that in the midst of the unfairness and disappointment that we can sometimes feel and experience, we are followers of a generous God who gives us more than we deserve.

The Gospel reading might also be used to consider whether we can sometimes be unduly jealous of those whose position and role affords them status and reward. For those in positions of management and influence, there is also an encouragement to embrace a spirit of generosity within the workplace.

Within these readings, there is a common invitation to reflect on what is of real value. The Israelite people quickly forgot the freedom and identity which God was giving them, preferring instead to focus on the hardship of the desert journey that would take them to it. Jonah is challenged for being more concerned about a tree which provided for his own needs, than the well-being of an entire city. Paul recognises that for all the hardships he faces, his relationship with Christ is of greater worth than life itself. The world of work has become increasingly driven by incentive, financial reward and material gain - as the people of God, we are invited to see our work as a commission from our Creator to care for his world, and be joined with Christ in reconciling all things. We are invited to look at the tasks we undertake from Monday to Friday and consider what it means to declare For me to live is Christ.