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Sermon and Worship Resources
15th Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 19 (24), year A
Sermon and Worship Resources

Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." Mt. 18:21-22

Texts & Discussion:
Exodus 14:19-31
Psalm 114
Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35



This Week's Themes:

Victory in God
Unity/Spiritual Community

Forgive us as we Forgive


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.




Children's Messages:


Sermon Excerpt:

How Important is Forgiveness to God?
Matthew 18:21-22
Frank Schaefer

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.
Matthew 18:21-22

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 legitimate.

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, here for the full sermon manuscript.