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Event Series Event Series: Proper 20 – Year A

Proper 20 – Year A

20 September 2026 All day

Below you will find the Bible readings set for this occasion in the Revised Common Lectionary, with our Australian idiomatic paraphrases of them, plus prayers and sermons based on them.

Bible Readings (paraphrased)

Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary. Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts(CCT) P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.

Once they were on their own in the outback, the Israelite people began to lose their nerve and worry about how they were going to survive, and the whole crowd started whingeing and criticising Moses and Aaron. The people were saying, “We would have been better off waiting for the LORD to kill us back in Egypt. At least there was always a pot of stew on the boil there, and as much bread as we could eat. But you two have dragged us out into the scrub so that you can starve us all to death out here.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to make bread fall from the sky like rain for you. Each day the people are to go out and collect enough for that day only. I am going to test out the people to see whether or not they will do what I tell them. They are not to stockpile it, except on the day before the Sabbath day off, when there will be twice as much as usual for them to collect and prepare.”

So Moses and Aaron spoke to the people saying, “You have been whingeing about the LORD, and the LORD has heard you and is going to do something about your complaint. This evening you will be convinced that it was the LORD who got you out of the land of slavery, and in the morning you will witness the glory of the LORD. So stop giving us such a hard time.”

And Moses added, “You will know that it is the LORD's doing when you have meat for dinner in the evening and all the bread you can eat in the morning, because the LORD has listened to your complaints and responded. Then you will realise that we had nothing to do with it, and that your whingeing has not been about us but about the LORD.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Give this message to the whole Israelite congregation: ‘Draw close to the LORD, for the LORD has listened to your complaints.’”

And even as Aaron was addressing the gathered people, they looked out across the desert and witnessed an awesome display of the LORD’s glory in the clouds.

The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Because I have listened to the people’s problems, I want you to give them this message: ‘At sundown you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have plenty of bread. Then you will know for sure that I am the LORD your God.”

That evening, an enormous flock of game birds came in and settled all over the camp where the people could pick them off with ease. Then in the morning, the ground was covered in dew, and as the dew dried, it left a layer of fine flaky stuff on the ground. It looked like a light sprinkling of snow on the desert floor. When the people saw it, they had no idea what it was and began to ask one another, “What on earth is this stuff?”

Moses told them, “This is the bread that the LORD has provided for you to gather up and eat.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

We shout your name and give you thanks, LORD;
we will tell everyone what you have done for us.
We sing your praises in your presence,
and publicise your wonderful achievements.

We put your name up in lights, your name alone;
our hearts burst with joy when we approach you.
It is you we want most of all, you and your strength;
we try to keep near to you all the time.

Like all the descendants of Abraham and Jacob,
and all your chosen children,
we remember all the astonishing things you have done
and the breath-taking wisdom of your decisions.

You led Israel out of slavery,
carrying off money and goods,
and every one of them made it out safely.
The local people were glad to see the last of them,
because they were terrified of them.

You rolled out a cloud like a blanket for them,
and lit up the night with a fire.
They asked for meat and you gave them quail;
all they could eat, you dropped from the sky.
You opened a rock and water poured out,
flowing like a river in the desert.

You were true to your word, LORD,
just as you promised your trusty worker, Abraham.
Your led your chosen people to freedom,
laughing and singing with joy.

You gave them lands as a gift
and made them rich at the expense of others.
In return you asked that they follow what you said,
and stick to doing things your way.

You are the greatest, LORD!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

I am on a winner whether I live or die, because for me living is positively full of the Messiah and dying is full of positives! If I was to go on living in the here and now, that would allow me to keep working and score a few more goals. I don’t know which to wish for! If I was given a say in it, I’d be hard pressed to choose between them. On the one hand, I can hardly wait for the day when I shuffle off this mortal coil to be with the Messiah. That will be the ultimate! But on the other hand I know it would be better for you if I were to stick with you. Because I know that that is the case, I’m pretty sure that I will be sticking around and continuing to get stuck into it with all of you, helping you to grow in the faith and enjoy it to the full. My arriving among you again will give you even more cause to trumpet on about being on the winning side with Jesus the Messiah, and I’ll get to share in the celebrations with you.

One thing though! See to it that as a community, your common life measures up to the message we proclaim about the Messiah. If it does, I won’t have to worry about whether I make it back to be with you or whether I only ever get to hear occasional news of you. Either way I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit and working together shoulder to shoulder with your minds set on the one goal of fully living out the faith we talk about. And I will know that you are not backing down in the least before the threats that are being made against you. Such a life will stand as a warning to those who are out to get you, pointing to the terrifying fate which awaits them and to the life of salvation which awaits you. This, of course, is all God’s doing. God has been generous enough to not only allow you to live with your trust in Christ, but to give you the privilege of suffering for the Messiah as well. That is why you are now up against it so severely. I was up against the same things last time you saw me — I still am — and now it’s your turn to share in it for the sake of the Messiah.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

While teaching his followers, Jesus said, “Here is a good illustration of the culture of heaven. A building contractor turned up at his job site first thing in the morning and found a queue of casual labourers at the gate looking for work. He offered to pay them the award wage for a day’s labour, and on that understanding, they signed on for the day and got stuck into it. At morning smoko, the boss wandered out the front gate and found another group of labourers standing around with nothing to do, so he said to them, ‘Come and work the rest of the day on my site, and I’ll pay you whatever is right.’

They signed on and got stuck into it. At lunchtime and again at afternoon smoko, the boss went down to the gate and signed on still more labourers. About an hour before they were due to down tools, the boss went down to the gate again and found still more unemployed labourers. He said to them, ‘What are you doing standing around here with your hands in your pockets?’

They replied, ‘We’re out of work and nothing has come up for us today.’

The boss said to them, ‘The day’s not done. Sign on here and you can work on my site for the rest of the shift.’

At knock-off time, the building contractor said to his leading hand, ‘Call the labourers into the site office and give them their wages, starting with those who signed on last and working through to those who signed on first thing.’

When those who had only been on the job for an hour reported in, they were each paid the award wage for a full day’s labour. So when those who had been hired first came in, they figured that they would get a substantial bonus, but each of them was also paid the award wage for a day. When they saw what they had been paid, they were ropeable, and sent one of their number in to take it up with the boss, saying, ‘Some of these blokes barely worked an hour, and you’re treating them as though they were worth the same as us who worked our guts out in the blazing sun for the whole day.’

But the boss replied, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong by you, Mister. You signed on for the usual daily wage didn’t you? Well, that’s what I’ve paid you, so put it in your wallet and get off home. I can pay the latecomers as much as you if I want. It’s my site and my money, so I can do what I like with them, can’t I? Or are you offended by my generosity?’”

“And so things will be completely different,” Jesus concluded. “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Prior to the revision of the Lectionary in 1992, the 1st reading and the psalm that responded to it were chosen to link thematically with the gospel reading. After hearing the critique of those who said that the Hebrew Scriptures, from which the first reading is usually chosen, should be allowed to speak with their own voice rather than just add support to the gospel reading, the Lectionary was revised so that during Ordinary Time, the 1st reading runs in its own semi-continuous series, working through various books of the Hebrew Bible. The older themed series continues to be available as an alternative.

The weekly prayers offered here at LaughingBird Resources are based on the four readings above, and do not draw on the themed 1st reading and psalm.

When the people of Nineveh called a day of repentance, God saw that they really were turning away from evil and getting their lives back on track. So God had a change of heart, and cancelled the disaster that had been planned for the people of Nineveh.

But this outcome was the last thing that Jonah wanted to see, and his anger raged like a bushfire. He exploded in prayer, saying, “Stuff it all, LORD! Right from the start I said that you couldn’t be trusted to destroy Nineveh! This is exactly what I was trying to avoid by running away in the first place. I knew that you were a God who is compassionate and generous, as eager to forgive as a doting mother. Your love and loyalty always hold back your anger, and given half a reason you withhold sentence and let everyone off the hook. Well LORD, I’ve had a gutful of it. Just kill me now and get it over with. I’d rather die than live, if this is how it is going to be.”

The LORD replied, “Do you think this burning anger is justified?”

But Jonah just stormed out of the city, heading east, and made a camp for himself in the bush. He plonked himself down on the ground and waited to see what would become of the city.

The LORD commissioned a small tree to shoot up and provide Jonah with shade in an effort to cool his head, so Jonah was pretty happy about the tree. But before the sun came up the next morning, God commissioned a grub to bore into the tree so that it shrivelled up. When the sun rose in the sky, God commissioned a hot muggy wind to blow on Jonah. With the heat of the sun boring into his head, Jonah was almost passing out from heatstroke and wishing he could just die and get it over with. He said to himself, “I would be better off dead anyway.”

The LORD said to Jonah, “Do you think this burning anger is justified over losing the tree?”

Jonah snarled back, “It is perfectly justified, even if it kills me!”

Then the LORD said:

“You felt a wave of compassion for the tree,
whose greatness was no thanks to anything you did,
and who sprouted one night and perished the next.

So what makes you think that I should not have compassion
for the great city of Nineveh,
whose streets are home to a hundred and twenty thousand people
who left to their own devices
wouldn’t know which way to turn,
and whose animals live there too?”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

We will declare you to be the greatest, God our king,
and put your name up in lights forever.

Every day, without fail, we will sing your praises,
we will honour your name now and forever.

You are wonderful, LORD; you deserve the highest praise,
and your greatness is more than we can comprehend.

Each generation tells the next what you have done,
and speaks with awe about your accomplishments.

We will fill our minds with your splendour and glory,
and with the stories of your amazing exploits.

We will publicise the news of your mighty deeds
and let everyone know how great you are.

Then everyone will celebrate your generous love;
and applaud your justice with singing and dancing.

You are generous and compassionate, LORD;
slow to anger, and rich in love and loyalty.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


Let us lift up our hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you provide for the needs of your people
with a generosity beyond our comprehension.

In the first of your mighty wonders you created the earth
and filled it with good things.
When you led your people out of slavery,
you heard their cries in the desert
and gave them food from heaven
so that they might eat and give thanks to you.

So too, you feed us through your child, Jesus,
the bread of heaven,
who came to nourish us and strengthen us in the faith.
Though he was killed, you raised him to life,
and now he gives himself with scandalous extravagance
to all who respond to his call,
the early comers and late comers alike.
So now for us, through your gracious gift of faith,
to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Therefore with .....

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

We give you thanks for the bread of heaven
which you give with scandalous extravagance
to all who respond to your call,
so that for us, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you provide for the needs of your people
with a generosity beyond our comprehension.

In the first of your mighty wonders you created the earth
and filled it with good things.
When you led your people out of slavery,
you heard their cries in the desert
and gave them food from heaven
and water from the rock.

So too, you came among us in your child, Jesus,
to nourish us and strengthen us in the faith.
Though he was killed, you raised him to life,
and now he gives himself with scandalous extravagance
to all who respond to his call,
the early comers and late comers alike.
So now for us, through your gracious gift of faith,
to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

All who respond to God’s call to repentance
are embraced in the generous mercy of God.
Whether you responded to God’s call at the first opportunity,
or whether you are responding for the first time now,
God’s gracious forgiveness is yours, in Jesus Christ.

Sisters and Brothers,
  your sins are forgiven;
    be at peace.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Go out in the strength of God’s gracious gifts.
Live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Stand firm in one spirit.
Strive with one mind for the faith of the gospel.

And may the power and the presence of God go with you.
May the Call of Christ lead you into fruitful labour.
And may the Holy Spirit fill you with the joy of grace.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
   In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


Sermons will open in new tabs from our SYCBaps church website.

  1. The Gracious Injustice
    A sermon on Matthew 20:1-16 by Nathan Nettleton
  2. Bread in the Wilderness
    A sermon on Exodus 16: 2-15 by Nathan Nettleton
  3. Sometimes Grace Stinks
    A sermon on Matthew 20:1-16 & Exodus 16: 2-15 by Nathan Nettleton
  4. Shortchanged?
    A sermon on Matthew 20:1-16 & Exodus 16: 2-15 by Nathan Nettleton
  5. Resenting Equality
    A sermon on Matthew 20:1-16 by Nathan Nettleton
  6. Affirmative Action and the Gospel
    A sermon on Matthew 20:1-16 by Nathan Nettleton


20 September 2026