Worship in the Home: September 20, 2020

Posted on September 15, 2020 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Lectionary 25
September 20, 2020


In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While you cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this brief resource as an aid for prayer in the home. As with our prayers in the gathered assembly for worship, you are encouraged to prepare or adapt them locally for your context.

Find a peaceful place to pray, perhaps a table. You may wish to light a candle near where you pray. One person may lead in this acclamation and then pray the Prayer of the Day.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Almighty and eternal God, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants. Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, grant us your merciful judgment, and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


Then the readings for this Sunday may be read, as follows:

First Reading:  Jonah 3:10 — 4:11

3:10When God saw what the people of Nineveh did, how they turned from their evil ways, God had second thoughts about the calamity that God said would be done to them; and God did not do it.

4:1But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4And the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

6The LORD God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

9But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10Then the LORD said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


The Psalm may be sung or read in response to the First Reading.

Psalm 145:1-8

1I will exalt you, my | God and king,
and bless your name forev- | er and ever.
2Every day | will I bless you
and praise your name forev- | er and ever.
3Great is the LORD and greatly | to be praised!
There is no end | to your greatness.
4One generation shall praise your works | to another
and shall de- | clare your power.
5I will speak of the glorious splendor | of your majesty
and all your | marvelous works.
6They shall tell of the might of your | wondrous acts,
and I will re- | count your greatness.
7They shall publish the remembrance of | your great goodness;
they shall sing joyfully | of your righteousness.
8The LORD is gracious and full | of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in | steadfast love.


Second Reading: Philippians 1:21-30

21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

27Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29For God has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for Christ as well—30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

The holy gospel according to Matthew.
Glory to you, O Lord.

[Jesus said:] 1“The dominion of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5“When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And 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?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8“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.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘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.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.



Having read these readings, think of this:

The old story goes that Jonah does not want Israel’s ancient enemies forgiven for he does not think they deserve it. Then, in Matthew’s parable, the first workers, expecting that they themselves should get more, do not think the latecomers deserve full pay. Do we draw lines about who is deserving and who not? The gospel is always teaching us that if we draw a line to exclude someone, Jesus Christ is always on the other side of the line: in the cross he is with the unsalaried, the suffering poor, the sinners, the enemies, even the threatened animals. And he is risen to give away mercy to all, to give enough to live this day. The justice and “fairness” of God is mercy. And none of us is deserving. We, too, are latecomers — beggars for life — and God’s gift is for us all, without distinction. Such mercy gives us an utterly new way to see the world.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 587 / 588); “Great God, Your Love Has Called Us” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 358). Links to hymns in the public domain are provided below.

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy


Then pray these intercessions:

Drawn together in the compassion of God, we pray for the church, the world, and all those in need, responding to each petition with the words “graciously hear our prayer.”

O God, you make the last first, and the first last. Give resources and courage to the churches around the globe that have few resources. When ministry in this time is so difficult, inspire bishops, pastors, deacons, and congregational leaders in their service.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

Continue your care for your whole creation: sun and wind, bushes and worms, cities and farms, and all your many animals. Make us into extensions of your care. Preserve the food sources of the world’s endangered wildlife.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

To places of conflict and violence, bring peace, especially to the cities of our nation. Bless the work of negotiators, peacekeepers, and development workers. Preserve protesters, and guide police. Enlighten our nation, the nations we call friends, and the nations that are deemed our enemies. Keep our election season from dishonesty.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

Give your blessing to the Jewish people at this time of their new year. Bring an end to anti-Semitism around the globe and strengthen peace efforts in the Middle East.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

To all who are suffering, show your mercy. We pray for firefighters, for communities devastated by fire, for all who suffer racial injustice, for migrants who seek safety, for all who are imprisoned, for victims of crime, for the unemployed, for students and faculty during the pandemic, for medical workers, for all who are hungry: O God, the list of the needy is so long. . .

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

Give health and wholeness to all who are sick, to all who are suffering from the coronavirus, and to those we name before you here:

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

You show mercy beyond our expectations, far beyond our deserving. Hear now our personal prayers.

A longer period of silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

We praise you for all the saints, especially this week for the apostle Matthew and for the gift of his gospel that speaks to us of your goodness. Give us grace to live for Christ, until we join with all the faithful in your eternal life.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion:
graciously hear our prayer.

All these things and whatever else you see that we need, we entrust to your mercy; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


If you have a hymnal, you might now sing or read “Take My Life, That I May Be” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 583 / 685); “Lord of All Hopefulness” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 765). Links to hymns in the public domain are provided below.

Take My Life, That I May Be


Then conclude with these prayers:

Let us pray.

A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in love, we bless your name and give you thanks. In our need, you make haste to help us. You plant us beside streams of your wisdom, teach us in pastures greening with truth, and guide us on the path of your promise. By your Spirit awaken our faith, that, feasting on your Word, we may love you more fully and serve our neighbor more faithfully; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever


Then speak the Blessing:

Mothering God,
Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit,
bless you and lead you into the way of truth and life.


Devotional Music Links: For your individual or group devotion, you may choose to listen to the following choral recordings made available through Augsburg Fortress: “God Created Life for Living;” Bread of the World;” “Unless You Lead Me, Love.”

Readings for the Week:
Monday (Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist) Matthew 9:9-13. Tuesday Romans 16:17-20. Wednesday Matthew 18:1-5. Thursday Psalm 25:1-9. Friday Ezekiel 18:5-18. Saturday Ezekiel 18:19-24. Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-9; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32.

Daily Prayer Resources are available, including simple forms of Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer; Responsive Prayer; and prayers for mealtimes and other occasions.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are only able to provide downloadable hymns that are in the public domain. Other suggestions provided above may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. To purchase a copy of Evangelical Lutheran Worship for the home, visit the Augsburg Fortress website or call 1-800-328-4648.

Reflection text: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship and sundaysandseasons.com, © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress.

Readings from Readings for the Assembly © 1995, 1996, 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Citations from the Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. Scripture quotations from NRSV Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted and edited with permission by Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw.

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