Online Service 13th September 2020
Welcome to the Service for the 14th Sunday of Trinity: Also available via YouTube
13th SEPTEMBER SERVICE. FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Please retain this copy of your Sunday Service. It will be used on September 13th and October 18th.
A copy of the Psalm if said, Reading, Hymns and Reflection will be issued for each of those dates as required.
Listen to: “At the Name of Jesus.”
We meet in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O God, make speed to save us.
All: O Lord, make haste to help us.
My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’
All: Your face, Lord, will I seek.
All: We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as the Lord;
all creation worships you,
the Father everlasting.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
the cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Come, let us return to the Lord and say:
All : Lord our God,
in our sin we have avoided your call.
Our love for you is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes away early.
Have mercy on us;
deliver us from judgement;
bind up our wounds and revive us;
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the God of love
bring us back to himself,
forgive us our sins,
and assure us of his eternal love
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm: 23 (listen to singing)
Reading: On separate sheet Matthew ch18 v21 to v35
“O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth your praise”
At one time in my life I was a justice of the peace. This involved my listening to cases in a magistrate’s court and then making a decision regarding the innocence or guilt of someone and if found guilty sentencing them. In order to give an appropriate sentence many factors were taken into consideration and then a large file was opened and rather like an accountant tallying, a figure in weeks months or years was arrived at for the sentence, or indeed some other way of punishment, financial or community service. I have heard many tales…some very tall ones, some very amusing ones and very many deeply sad ones. Yet in spite of the mechanics of it all there lay in the court service a great capacity to show forgiveness, and it did so. In spite of the inevitable newspaper article that would follow a controversial judgement, the court administered what it discerned as a just and fair judgement. That was because it heard the whole story. The court heard the Why someone broke the law, and that made all the difference and in the few cases where there was not a Why there was pretty much always a conclusion of a Because.
In today’s Gospel we have Peter our good and impetuous friend announcing very self-righteously that he was going to forgive 7 times. He must have felt really proud as this was over twice what would be expected in rabbinical law. Amos where some of the laws on forgiveness were taken asks that a sinner be forgiven 3 times.
We have in the person of Peter 2 sins in one sentence, Self-Righteousness and Pride the two bulwarks which prevent forgiveness. But as usual Jesus does not condemn poor Peter, he just turns his mind and heart around, shows him the forgiving attitude, one could say the Be-attitude.
That is what forgiveness is about, turning our hearts and minds around and growing in the forgiving attitude.
But it is not an easy turn around….it is pretty much Jesus grabbing Peter by his shoulders and shouting “STOP I will show you what forgiveness is” ….it was beyond his imagining …. forgiving the members of the church 77 times in other words endlessly, and mean that forgiveness, it is not conditional. At this time Peter and Jesus were talking about those closest to them, not strangers but those who they loved and were in the same community. Those who really should know better! This is a gospel passage that pulls us up sharply.
Forgiveness has to be experienced in the heart and not just received in the mind, and forgiveness is a choice. What is it to experience forgiveness and choose to forgive?
Jesus illustrates this through the story of the slave who owed 10,000 talents. This amount was unpayable and the slave would not have managed to repay this in his lifetime, and yet he asks for time to pay it back! He had the same sins as Peter Self Righteousness and Pride the same bulwarks against forgiveness lay in him. The master recognised that it was impossible to pay back. Thus, the Master had a choice condemn the slave and his family or forgive him…he chose forgiveness. He also chose to impose no conditions.
Significantly there was no reason given why, he just chose to forgive and forgive free of conditions.
We are shown in that little cameo the pattern for forgiveness. We have to make a conscious choice to forgive, it is not integral to forgiveness to have conditions. The forgiveness involved giving the slave his total freedom, he was not tied to his master he had been given back to himself…he had been “For Given” back to himself. Nothing was held onto…no grudge…no ill feelings…no piece of paper saying IOU.
Thus forgiveness, is a free choice, in itself forgiveness is about loving freedom…it is free of conditions and it frees the person from that wrongdoing…it is a total letting go and letting be.
What is conditional is us, we are conditional beings. Forgiveness frees us from that…God is helplessly in Love with his creation but we cannot receive the forgiveness of God if our hearts are unforgiving if our bulwarks of pride and self-righteousness stand hard against forgiveness…and all that means and calls from us.
This is worked out in the next part of the story, in which we learn of a slave who owes a miserably small amount to the first slave who has just been offered forgiveness.
This slave also pleads for time but the first slave who seems to have a remarkably short memory does not grant his request. The offered forgiveness by the Master never got past the slaves bulwarks, he T holds onto the conditions, the rules and regulations, and throws the second slave into prison… and in prison forever, for it is until his debt is paid. From prison the second slave cannot earn therefore has no hope of paying. This is indeed the sentence the first slave should have received from his master…but he didn’t because his master had tried to forgive him.
The first slave got his come-uppance though as his deeds were seen and reported back to the Master, and his sentence was to be tortured until his debts were paid…no hope there then…. or is there?
We hear in the last verse of this passage
“Forgive your brother or sister from your heart” And that is where the hope lies…. In our Heart…for that is where we need to experience and give of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a calculated intellectual exercise, like the court sentencing I spoke of earlier.
It happens as in the first part of this story “just because, we have the choice” That choice comes way back from the OT when the Lord puts before us “Life or Death and urges us Choose life”. Forgiveness is choosing life; it is choosing to let someone live in their own lives in freedom and not be indebted because of their sin to us and us choosing to live our own lives in freedom not carry someone else debt of sin to us or indeed our own. It is learning to For Give our sin or Give up our sin, smash our bulwarks of pride and self righteousness…being grabbed by the shoulders and told “STOP, you’ve been shown what forgiveness is”…
If we reflect back, we see that Forgiveness is about the Free Love of God no matter what.
We have a pattern to follow. To walk the road of forgiveness means, walking the road of calvary. It means bearing the debts that our brothers and sister owe to us. The debts of pain of anger, of hurt and so much more as well as bearing our own painful awareness of our sins. All those debts add up minute upon minute day upon day so that they too are unpayable. But we have a choice either we hold onto them or we Give them up We fore Give them.
Once we receive in our heart’s forgiveness for our sins, it turns us around, we recognise our bulwarks of pride and self-righteousness and we feel freedom…a freedom if experienced …. turns our hearts around to offer forgiveness to others… that is the freedom of the children of God. As a child of God, we too will be able to taste the Grace of God’s Salvation which is there unconditionally and everlasting…no matter what…no matter who…it is there 77 times …infinitely…
Rather than ending with a prayer let us consider God’s infinite Forgiving Love, as we pray together the Our Father, the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us” later in this service…and as we pray it day by day….let it turn us around…let it gift us with the freedom to receive forgiveness in our hearts and give forgiveness to the hearts of others, unconditionally and always. “Thank you for listening”
I leave you with a quote from priest and theologian, Henri Nouwen…
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family”. (You are the Beloved)
There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kindly judgement given.
For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind,
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
But we make his love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify his strictness
with a zeal he would not own.
There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the head.
There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in that upper home of bliss.
Second half of tune:
If our love were but more simple
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be all gladness
in the joy of Christ our Lord.
Prayers On separate sheet
Response at end of Prayers
All: Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Amen. from St Patrick’s Breastplate
Let us dare to pray as our Saviour has taught us
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.
All: God of power,
may the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
may the gifts of your Spirit equip us to serve and
now and always.
May God who made both heaven and earth bless us.
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
All Amen. Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord
Anthem (listen to) “The Peace of God”
21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church[a] sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents[c] was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;[d] and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister[e] from your heart.”
Everlasting God, Lord of forgiveness and gracious understanding, we come with an openness to express our concerns for the Church and the world, and to thank you, for your grace and goodness.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer
Creator God, we pray for our world, where through the media, we see war, misery and tragedy fracturing people’s lives. We pray for wisdom, compassion, humility and generosity that we may know and take the right actions to bring about concord and healing.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Father God, help us to use our influence and the talents you have given us to bring peace, joy and fun into people’s lives. We remember our town, and pray for the children recently back in school, those in retailer and hospitality struggling regenerate their businesses and livelihoods
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Merciful God, give us hope in the coming of your kingdom so that we may look forward with patience and confidence to that time when we will join you in the peace of eternity. And we especially pray for any we know who recently died and those who have been bereaved.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.