In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
Historically the Sunday liturgy was anticipated on Saturday night at Vespers, the early evening prayer service. The Psalms and Readings laid the groundwork for the Sunday Communion Service as well as the theme that would run through the whole week. If we had Saturday Vespers, yesterday you would have heard Genesis 3, the Fall into sin. That would have helped us understand the theme for today by revealing that there are no good works in which we can boast because everything is tainted by sin, and that the only way that ancient curse can be abolished is by the grace of God. It’s that note of grace which runs through every part of today’s Service, which you hopefully noticed in the hymn we just sang, since we sang the word “grace” eighteen times in one hymn. In the Introit, grace appeared as God hears our voice, even as we are in the midst of death. In the Collect we implored God to deliver us from the punishment we justly deserve. In the Old Testament, God graciously gave the children of Israel water even though they contended with Moses and accused God of ignoring their needs. St. Paul reminded us in the Epistle that God fed the people of Israel—physically and spiritually—by His very presence among them, despite their sin. Even though most of them did not make it into the Promised Land, God did not forsake them for their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Finally, the Gospel reveals the glorious grace of God, that He gives in lavish ways we could never deserve. Though they deserved very little, if anything, those last workers hired earned a full day’s wages for one hour of work. God is even more generous with us than that landowner with his workers because God gives forgiveness to us without any work on our part, giving us salvation without any merit of our own, completely apart from our works. As we begin our journey towards the cross, this is the first lesson the Church teaches us, to give us strength along the way—everything that we will witness in the death of Jesus is done for us, out of divine love, and is given to us freely by grace.
Sermons from Mount Olive
Mount Olive follows the historic one-year lectionary (series of readings).