Worship for Sunday 8th October 2023, by Rev. Joy Rulton

Call to worship:

Lord, you have called us

and equipped us to serve you;
you have called us

and equipped us to bear good fruit;
you have called us

and equipped us to share your blessings.
We come to worship

and bless your name.



All heaven declares
The glory of the risen Lord
Who can compare with
The beauty of the Lord
Forever He will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow the knee
And worship Him alone

I will proclaim
The glory of the risen Lord
Who once was slain
To reconcile us to God
Forever You will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow the knee
And worship You alone

Noel Richards and Tricia Richards © 1987, Thankyou Music

Prayer of adoration:

Creator of all,
Sustainer of all,
Saviour of all,
Your glory and majesty
are beyond our understanding,
Your power too awesome to behold.
And yet your love enfolds us as a gentle breeze.
How can we not sing your praise
with heart and soul
and proclaim your name
throughout the world?
How can we not declare your glory
through all that we are,
and proclaim your name
throughout this world?

Saviour of all ,
Sustainer of all,
Creator of all,
We bless your holy name.



My Lord what love is this
That pays so dearly?
That I, the guilty one
May go free

Amazing love, oh what sacrifice
The Son of God given for me
My debt He pays and my death He dies
That I might live
That I might live

And so they watched Him die
Despised, rejected
But oh, the blood He shed
Flowed for me

Amazing love…..

And now this love of Christ
Shall flow like rivers
Come wash your guilt away,
Live again

Amazing love…..

Songwriters: John Schweers Amazing Love lyrics © Jack And Bill Music Co., Jubilee-music Inc, Make Way Music

Readings:                                  NRSV

Isaiah 5:1-7

I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit.

“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
    judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?
Now I will tell you
    what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
    and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
    and it will be trampled.
I will make it a wasteland,
    neither pruned nor cultivated,
    and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
    not to rain on it.”

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
    is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
    are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
    for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Matthew 21:33-46

33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went away. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves,  more than the first, and they treated them in the same way. 37 Then he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is amazing in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruits. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Hymn: StF 544

As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after you
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship you

You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship you

I want you more than gold or silver
Only you can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye

You are my friend and you are my brother
Even though you are king
I love you more than any other
So much more than anything.

C: 1983 Restoration Music Ltd/Sovereign Music


Isaiah describes a vineyard on a fertile hill with good soil. The owner has dug the ground himself, cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines – only the best would do. He built a wall round and a watchtower to protect it. Anticipating a good yield, he installed a wine vat in the ground. Then he waited for the fruit to ripen. He had done everything he could. This vineyard had everything going for it.

Imagine how disappointed he must have been when, instead of the wonderful harvest he anticipated, there were only wild grapes. No harvest celebration.

So what does he do? He tears down the hedge, smashes the wall, stops watering the land, and just lets the vineyard go.

Isaiah’s song is about people who have been richly blessed, given everything they need to live with justice and righteousness. Yet the people of Judah wouldn’t look after the poor and vulnerable. They were motivated by greed and selfishness, falling short of living the way God expected them to live.

Jesus brings all this to his own situation, telling the story of landowner who has provided everything needed to produce good fruit, a rich harvest. But again, there is injustice, greed and selfishness.

Tenant farming was a common occupation for poorer people at the time. Agricultural estates were often owned by absentee landlords, the aristocracy with important positions in the city, in places like the temple.

In Jesus’ parable a landowner established a vineyard complete with a fence, a winepress, and even a watchtower. He then became an absentee landowner, returning to his own country as often happened in the far-flung territories of the Roman Empire. Tenants were in charge of overseeing the productivity of the vineyard and paying their rent to the owner at harvest time, in the form of a share of the produce. So far, so good: business was working as usual. Then everything fell apart!

Again and again in Jesus’ parable, the landowner sends his servants to collect the harvest, but they were beaten, killed or stoned to death by the tenants. Those tenants would probably have expected the owner to give up. But Jesus tells a different ending from Isaiah. Instead of giving up on the tenants, despite all that has happened to the servants, the Father sends his Son. Surely when they see his Son, they will recognise the Landowners justice and patience at last respond to him.

The owner risks the life of his own Son. And yet the tenants treat him just the same way as the other servants. Perhaps they reckoned that would be the last one, they wouldn’t hear from the owner again and they could take it all for themselves.

Jesus asks the chief priests to finish the story. “Now,” he asks, “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do with those tenants?” “He will certainly kill those evil men,” is the reply, “And let the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his harvest at the right time.”

Perhaps the chief priests had more sympathy with the landlords in the story, rather than the tenants. After all, they were the upper crust of society. They probably reckoned they understood the anger and frustration of the landowner who, after all, was only trying to collect what was his.

You can sense the tension that must have been in the air as Jesus finishes speaking and the Pharisees started to get it, Jesus was talking about them – and it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

No wonder they wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds. They waited later, until nightfall. By the end of the week, the chief priests and elders, the tenants of the vineyard, will take the Father’s Son, Jesus, outside the city walls. There, they’ll crucify him, sure that they’ll be rid of this troublemaker once and for all. They can continue with their corrupt live uninterrupted. Or so they think.

And did the owner give up. After all, there was no fruit so far. Surely he’ll give up. But no, three days after Jesus was crucified, he rose from the tomb.

And then we have those words from Psalm 118:

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

It would have been a well-known passage, sung on the first night of Passover.

The cornerstone is the first foundation stone of a building and all other stones laid must line up with it. Which really takes us back to where we started and whether we are in line with God and his purposes for us.

Jesus is unwilling to give up on the Pharisees and he isn’t going to give up on us. He expects us to produce fruit, a life of love, kindness and compassion, to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbour as ourselves. He entrusts his gifts and grace to each one of us and sends us to work in the world for him.

So, the question remains for us –

Do we live as God would have us live?

Do we follow God’s way, or do we go our own way?

Prayer of confession:

How many times each day

do You come to us, Jesus?

How many quiet prophets,

how many whispered warnings

are sent to catch our attention?

And how many times do we pass by

unaware of Your calm Presence,

unfeeling of Your beckoning gaze?

How often have we shunned Your messengers;

sending them away with clipped words

and cold eyes?

How often have we hurt the agents of Your care;

too busy or self-absorbed to notice

Your invitation in their words?

Forgive us, Lord,

when through neglect, pre-occupation or wrongfulness,

we turn my backs on You.

Teach me to see, to listen and to walk with an open heart,

so that we can welcome You,

and answer You,

when, in grace and love,

You call us to follow.


John van de Laar



Take this moment, sign and space;
Take my friends around;
Here among us make the place
Where your love is found.

Take the time to call my name,
Take the time to mend
Who I am and what I’ve been,
All I’ve failed to tend.

Take the tiredness of my days,
Take my past regret,
Letting your forgiveness touch
All I can’t forget

Take the little child in me
Scared of growing old;
Help me here to find my worth
Made in God’s own mould.

Take my talents, take my skills,
Take what’s yet to be;
Let my life be yours, and yet
Let it still be me.

C: 1989 WGRG Iona Community

Prayers of intercession:

God of one and God of all, we pray for:
those who don’t know who they are,
who can’t understand themselves or their place in society
God of all, we pray for them.

Those who don’t ‘fit in’,
who are or seem to be different
God of all, we pray for them.

Those who don’t know where they come from,
their heritage or home, their family or bloodline
God of all, we pray for them.

Those who feel lost and isolated, confused and afraid,
rudderless or homeless, strangers in a strange land
God of all, we pray for them.

Those who wish they were someone else,
or somewhere else, in some other time and place
God of all, we pray for them.

In your great mercy, Lord,
hear our prayers and grant surer journeys for them all.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.


Love divine, all loves excelling

Joy of heaven to earth come down

Fix in us Thy humble dwelling

All Thy faithful mercies crown

Jesus, Thou art all compassion

Pure, unbounded love Thou art

Visit us with Thy salvation

Enter every trembling heart


Come, almighty to deliver

Let us all thy life receive;

Suddenly return and never,

Never more thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

serve thee as thy hosts above,

pray, and praise thee without ceasing,

glory in Thy perfect love.


Finish then thy new creation,

pure and spotless let us be

Let us see thy great salvation,

perfectly restored in thee:

changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise!

Charles Wesley


May the blessing of God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with us always.

Prayers from rootsontheweb CCL: 5441182