and Worship Resources
Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 19 (24), year A
Sermon and Worship Resources
Prayer of Confession
(for use with Matthew 18:21-35)
Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and
strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We
have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved
your Holy Spirit.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our
indifference to injustice and cruelty.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our
neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those
who differ from us.
Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great. Amen.
How Important is
Forgiveness to God?
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I
forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus
answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
How important is forgiveness to God? It's fair to say that forgiveness
and grace have become the corner stone of Christian theology. God is
so gracious that God offers forgiveness even when it is undeserved.
All we have to show is remorse for our wrongdoings. That's a VERY
radical concept of forgiveness.
But how important is it to our faith that we forgive those who wronged
us? It must be pretty important to God or else the Christian bible
were not so full of references to that effect. But itís not just the
number of references to forgiving our neighbors itís also what it says
about forgiveness, namely that God expects us to show the same kind of
radical forgiveness, than God does.
Forgiving other is a hard concept for all of us. We, like Peter, feel
that there have to be limits to our forgiveness. We canít just keep on
forgiving people because if we did, they would walk all over us. Some
things that people do to us or say to us, we feel, are hard to
forgive, because the offense hurt so much it left a scar.
Perhaps, we prefer to be like Peter who in our gospel lesson this
morning comes to Jesus with a mathematical solution to forgiving
others. There must be some limit, Peter reasons, beyond which
forgiveness is no longer required. Beyond which we no longer need to
pray, ďforgive those who trespass against us.Ē
What does it mean when Jesus taught us to pray: "Forgive our sins as
we forgive those who sinned against us?" Rest assured that whatever
Jesus included in the Lordís prayer was elementary and very important.
According to our gospel lesson too, it becomes clear that forgiving
others is not optional; it is expected. In fact, if we donít show the
same kind of forgiveness to others that God has shown us, weíre in
trouble. The way it goes in Jesusí parable, the unforgiving
servant who was forgiven his debt, was thrown back in jail when he
refused to forgive a person who was indebted to him. Not only was did
he find himself back in jail, this time he was also tortured. And
Jesus concludes his parable with these words: ďSo my heavenly Father
will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother
or sister from your heart." (Mt. 18:35)
Jesusí message sounds very radical to our ears, especially since he
mentions torture. I want to be clear to give a disclaimer here and
make it 100 per cent clear that we as a church, that I personally, do
NOT believe that torture is legit. When we deal with ancient texts
from about 2000 ago, we have to consider the historic and cultural
context. Torture and slavery were widely deemed acceptable and
So, sometimes we have to give a disclaimer and put the parable into
the right context. Though we obviously believe that slavery and use of
torture is morally wrong in Godís view, this was obviously not clear
to people back then. Having given this disclaimer, I want to also be
clear that this parable can still teach an important point,
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full sermon manuscript.