Monday, 23 February 2015

Come early, come late

Matthew 20:1-16
The Laborers in the Vineyard
​“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And 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?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When 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.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘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.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This table is spread
For the old and the young
For the long-timers and the new-comers
For those who feel at home and those who are just settling in
It is the table of our Lord
Where grace is extended to all
So come and join the feast
You for whom this is new
And you who do this often
Here, know the grace of God
embraces you.
Feel welcome, valued and affirmed
As God meets us here in bread and in wine.

Jesus gathered friends around him
To teach, to heal, 
to live, to love, to laugh
Over meals they shared stories and created memories together.
And the night he was betrayed, sharing supper with his friends,
Jesus took bread,
He broke it, blessed it and shared it
And said: Do this to remember me
As he passed around the cup after supper
He said: This cup tells of a new relationship made possible with God
Drink this to remember me.
Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup
you remember my dying for you.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
God we bring you our thanks today for memories
Memories created with loved ones now lost
Memories created new every day with those with whom we now share life
You are a God who never forgets
A God who loves us - not because of who we have been
Or because of our potential
But because of who we are now
Your beloved children
You welcome us to this table
Those of us for whom this is a familiar ritual
And those of us for whom it is new
You welcome us
And you give every moment new significance
Finding ourselves known and loved and welcomed at your table
we bring with us today
those who feel rejected
those who have never known a place set for them at any table
and those whose memories of table
are too far in the past to remember
or so traumatic that they have tried to forget.
We bring those who feel their value is only in what they can bring
who have never known themselves valued for who they are.
As we meet your generosity here
we pray for those who withhold from others
what is rightfully theirs.
For all those we exclude or overlook in our everyday.
May our experience of sharing at your table today
transform us in the way we make room for others
and in the way that we recreate memories
that honour your love shown for us here in the symbols of bread and wine
your body broken for us, your love poured out.
So send your Spirit on this bread and wine that we share, 
May we be fed, nourished, held and changed.
May our horizons be expanded
our certainties challenged
and our memories made new
as we meet you in this feast.

Jesus, the night he was betrayed, took bread, blessed it broke it and shared it.
We do this to remember him.

After supper, he took the cup, symbol of a new start with God. Sharing it, he said:
Do this to remember me.

We meet Jesus here and celebrate the generosity of God. 
Break this bread. Drink this cup. Make room for others.
Know God's welcome healing you today.

Prayer after communion
At your table O God we find welcome.
At your table we find healing.
At your table we find grace enough to spill over into our daily lives.
Filled with your spirit may we go from here to practice generosity
creating a new reality for those who expect only rejection
making room for those who have known only exclusion
And so may we usher in your new kingdom 
where the last shall be first 
and the first shall be last.

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