Welcome to Living Savior Lutheran Church
Living Savior church is now having regular worship services at 9:00a.m. every Sunday. We will be practicing social distancing. Masks are required. Communion will be given at the end of the service. After communion, you will leave through the back door, so please take all your belongings with. Offering plates will not be passed, but will be located at the entrance and at the exit. For those of you who are not comfortable with this arrangement, we also are offering the service to you in the parking lot on 105.7 FM on your radio dial.
Scriptures & Message for Sunday, September 20th, 2020
First Reading — Isaiah 55:6-9
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.
Second Reading — Philippians 1:12-14, 19-30
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Gospel — Matthew 20:1-16
“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.”
From Envy to Gratitude
The sun is shining and the sky is clear. Joes finishes breakfast, climbs into his pickup truck and drives to town where day laborers assemble looking for work. Well, the time and place may be different, but the story is the same.
And sure enough, on the street corner, a number of early risers are ready to go. So, Joe hires them for the normal wage of a denarius a day. He comes back at 9:00 and hires more, and again at 12 noon, and once more at 3:00. Then at the bewitching hour of 5 p.m., one hour before closing time, he still finds stragglers on the corner, so he sends them to the vineyard to work as well.
Here our story takes a strange twist. At 6 o’clock quitting time, Joe instructs his foreman to pay the workers starting with the last hired and pay them first. Now you know something is going on in this story, that’s exactly the opposite of the way things would normally happen. The one hour workers receive a denarius, the normal daily wage for a laborer. Hopes rise in the hearts of the others. “We hit the jackpot today, we’ve been here three, six, nine hours. If he’s going to give somebody a whole day’s wage for one hour of work, think about what we’re going to make.” But when their turn comes to be paid, they too receive a denarius, even the 12 hour workers who have labored through the heat of the day.
Well, you can imagine the reaction. Grumble, grumble, gripe, gripe, complain, complain, who wouldn’t? It’s well — unfair! Unjust! Inequitable! What’s going on in this story? What’s the punch line? Here it is: “Are you envious because I am generous?”
Envy, that’s the spiritual makeover we want to work on today. Why is it easier to weep with those who weep than it is to rejoice with those who rejoice? I know we don’t want to admit that but it’s reality. It is easier to weep with those who weep than it is to rejoice with those who rejoice, especially for good upright people, church-going people, people who live a good life and try to do what’s right for the world.
At the core is this deadly sin that the Church fathers called ENVY. It’s a fundamental sadness at the good fortune of another. It’s a weird kind of sin. If you lust you might get happy for a little while. If you are greedy, you might enjoy the money for a season. There is no joy in envy. We even look sick when we have it. So, the expression of being “green with envy.” You’ll never be happy as an envious person. Yet, it lies in the hearts and minds of fair-minded people, people like you and like me.
- Envy runs in the family.
Cain and Abel were brothers, the sons of Adam and Eve. Abel was a shepherd. Cain was a gardener. Cain offered some grain to the Lord. Abel brought a prize lamb, the best of his flock. God was pleased with Abel’s offering but rejected the offering of Cain. The pain of rejection was too much. A few days later, Cain coaxes Abel into the desert where the first murder in the history of the world takes place. Its cause? Jealousy, envy. It seeps around the cracks of the soul. It runs in the family.
Jesus told a story about a father who had two sons. One son, wrapped up in himself, rebelled, ran away, wasted his life in riotous living. Yet, at the end of himself, he came to himself, and realized he could go home and be a servant and be in better shape than he was on his own. He returned home. While he was still a long way off, the father spotted him, ran to meet him, threw his arms around him, put a ring on his finger, a robe on his back, shoes on his feet, and welcomed him home with a party. This, my son, was lost but now has come home again.
Great story, except that this son had an older brother. He was out on the farm working, as he had done all his life. When he heard the music and saw the dancing, he was angry and refused to go in. So, his father went out to fetch him, but to no avail. All the father heard was one long outburst of anger about how the son had slaved all these years and never even had a goat for a feast with his friends. Jealousy — envy — hatred — resentment. It runs in the family.
Phillip Yancey says, “Grace is scandalous, hard to accept, hard to believe, hard to receive. Grace shocks us by what it offers. It frightens us by what it does for sinners.” I suspect if we were truly honest some of us would not suggest that grace is amazing, we would say that it’s unfair.
- Envy runs in the workplace.
I don’t have to tell you envy runs rampant in the workplace. Its grumbling can be heard among the employees. I know, you try to keep salaries a secret. Let me tell you, they know. They’ve got it figured out just like these workers in the vineyard. They knew who made what, and the grumbling and the griping happens. “How come I’m not making more than they are? I know I agreed to a denarius a day but, good Lord, a man works only one hour and he gets the same. There’s something wrong with that.”
Envy. It lurks around schools. It’s in the market place where we compete with one another and wonder why we didn’t get a better shake. Remember the old Jewish folk tale about two merchants who were always in competition with each other? One day God decided to put an end to such foolishness. He had an angel deliver this message to one of the merchants. The message went as follows: “I the Lord Almighty have decided you can have anything you want in this world — riches, wisdom, long life, children — whatever you wish, but on one condition. Whatever you get, your competitor will get double. If you get 10 million dollars, he gets 20 million. Understand?” The merchant thought a moment and said, “Would you be willing to make me blind in one eye?”
So, we need a spiritual makeover. The makeover we need is one of gratitude, a deep abiding appreciation for life.
Gratitude is that deep abiding sense that I am blessed to be alive. “If the only prayer you ever pray is ‘thank you’ that it would suffice.”
Saying thank you is more than good manners; it is a genuine expression of spirituality that touches the soul. Thank you, Jesus. Is that the language of your heart? You’ve been a rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for being there, when things weren’t just right. Thank you for watching over me, all through the night. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul, For taking the pieces and making me whole. I just want to thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for peace from above, For undeserved presence and unending love. Thank you, Jesus.
Is that language on your heart? Is that thought on your mind when you wake up in the morning? Is your soul touched with the language of gratitude?
Have you learned how to say thank you? Does it bubble up in your soul? Does it flow from your lips? Can you even get through a worship service without being grateful? Thank you, Jesus. Gratitude is a language that we learn.
Gratitude is a life we live. John F. Kennedy once said, “We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words of gratitude but to live them.”
I don’t know where I found it, but I’ve had it a couple years and I’m going to keep using it. It’s a little piece called “Anyway.”
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered — love them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives — be kind anyway. Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable — be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed over night — build anyway. People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them — help them anyway. In the final analysis, it’s between you and God. It never was between you and them anyway.
I started with a question and I want to end with one. Are you going to sell your soul to envy, or fill your life with gratitude?
we will try to keep you updated as we go along during this time of Covid 19.