Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 24, 2017, Proper 20, Year A

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 16:2-15)

Just after being miraculously supplied with water in the wilderness, the Israelites grumble to Moses about their lack of food. They say it would have been better to have died in Egypt where they at least had lots to eat. Yahweh informs them that he is going to rain bread from heaven upon them every morning while each twilight would bring in a flock of quails. Once again he hears their complaints and responds with grace.

Psalm (105:1-6, 37-45)

The Psalmist exhorts Yahweh’s chosen people to seek his presence, remember his wonderful works on their behalf, and make him known among the nations. He is the one who brought them out of Egypt, provided for them in the wilderness, and took them into the promised land with joy and singing.

Second Reading (Philippians 1:21-30)

St. Paul, realizing that he is called to be of further service to the early Christian communities he has founded, reluctantly accepts any delay in being fully in Christ’s presence through death. He encourages the Philippians to live lives worthy of the Gospel and standing firm in the face of opposition and suffering, a struggle he continues to share with them.

Gospel (Matthew 20:1-16)

Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard owner who hires a number of workers early in the morning to work for the normal daily rate. He also hires others during various times of the day but only tells them he will pay them what is right. When he pays them all the same amount those who worked longer were angry. They felt shortchanged instead of being glad for the owner’s generosity to the others. In the Kingdom of God, says Jesus, the last shall be first and the first last.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Being content with the blessings we have
  • Why are we angry with God or others? Do we really have a case?
  • Being faithful in times of suffering means trusting in Christ and resisting the urge to complain
  • God always gives us more than we deserve (grace)
  • Living as God’s people does not mean we will not have to suffer

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Jonah 3:10-4:11)

As Jonah had anticipated, because he is slow to anger and full of grace, mercy and steadfast love, Yahweh spares the repentant city of Nineveh from the destruction Jonah had announced. This makes him angry and he sits down to see what happens. Yahweh causes a plant to give him extra shade from the sun only to destroy it the next day. Again Jonah is angry and again says he would rather die than live. Yahweh contrasts his own concern for the immense and needy population of Nineveh with Jonah’s rage over an insignificant bush.

Psalm (145:1-8)

The Psalmist begins by affirming his intention to praise Yahweh for his surpassing majesty and his wonderful works, qualities for which he will be extolled by generations to come. They will sing of his goodness and righteousness, his grace and mercy, and his steadfast love and slowness to anger.

Second Reading (Philippians 1:21-30)

St. Paul, realizing that he is called to be of further service to the early Christian communities he has founded, reluctantly accepts any delay in being fully in Christ’s presence through death. He encourages the Philippians to live lives worthy of the Gospel and standing firm in the face of opposition and suffering, a struggle he continues to share with them.

Gospel (Matthew 20:1-16)

Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard owner who hires a number of workers early in the morning to work for the normal daily rate. He also hires others during various times of the day but only tells them he will pay them what is right. When he pays them all the same amount those who worked longer were angry. They felt shortchanged instead of being glad for the owner’s generosity to the others. In the Kingdom of God, says Jesus, the last shall be first and the first last.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Being content with the blessings we have
  • Why are we angry with God or others? Do we really have a case?
  • Being faithful in times of suffering means trusting in Christ and resisting the urge to complain
  • God always gives us more than we deserve (grace)
  • Living as God’s people does not mean we will not have to suffer
  • Like God we should be slow to anger
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