Worship Pentecost 15
September 13, 2020
Service of the Word
Good morning and welcome to Cross and Crown Lutheran Church and School. On this the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. While I am not the usual face in this place we have become accustomed to seeing in this shelter in place protocol, please let it be known that our prayers are with Pastor Ted and Karen and for Pastor Ted’s healing and recovery. Let us prepare ourselves for worship.
P: We open our worship in the name of God the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
O Lord God, merciful judge, you are the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness. Replace our hearts of stone with hearts that love and adore you, that we may delight in doing your will, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication and
justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,
and I will observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Turn my heart to your decrees,
and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
which is for those who fear you.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
for your ordinances are good.
See, I have longed for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life.
1st Reading: Genesis 50:15-21
Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’ So they approached Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
Epistle: Romans 14:1-12: Do Not Judge Another
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.’
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
Then 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.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 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. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 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. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
Sermon - Brian Brozovic
Welcome again to our service, albeit digitally and social distanced. Maybe some of you got here from Facebook, if so, I found this cartoon there from Agnus Day to be very fitting to today’s Gospel teaching.
Lord please do have mercy.
I find it interesting in the Gospel reading that Peter, of all the disciples short of Judas, is the one asking how many times he must forgive. Because, Like Peter, though we all occasionally set down our nets of self will and ponder the lessons of our Savior, we too as Romans 3:23 states, “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” maybe not through denial leading to the cross but maybe with our fellow humans in everyday interactions.
So how many times must we forgive?
I certainly don’t like math, luckily, I chose Seminary instead. So whether its seven, seventy seven, or seventy times seven, the point is that if we are keeping tabs on the requirement of forgiveness and not living into the heart of what forgiveness is, we are only fooling ourselves. This parable takes forgiveness out of the category of something countable and puts it into the category of the incalculable. Forgiveness is an everyday thing.
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,
“Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea,
until they have something to forgive.”
In today’s parable, we often find ourselves at the feet of our King with a metaphorical debt greater than incalculable burden of ten thousand talents, a present day astronomical amount upwards of hundreds of millions. Begging and pleading for mercy and grace from our sin we cry out “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”
For clarification, though this parable is using debt and actual currency, we might exchange that word debt for trespasses or sin.
Like in the parable, the truth is, we were and are released from this debt, and forgiven of our sins. When Jesus spoke those final words, “It is finished” in John 19:30, with his blood and sacrifice, we were cleansed of all unrighteousness, set free, and redeemed.
So as this redeemed people we stand up and walk into the world and into our communities each day, and the day will come when someone has a debt with us, maybe as small as a metaphorical hundred denarii, maybe as grand as abuse or neglect, and they will fall to our feet, and similarly plead for mercy and grace and echo out “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.”
Here lies our crossroad. Do we emulate the parable and fall into the trap or do we grow in Christ? The question is important.
C.S. Lewis wrote in an Essay on Forgiveness.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable,
because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
It is important for we hear the repercussions of our decisions, should we not learn to forgive our brother and sister from our heart.
It might be hard, but we know it is important, because this is a theme that spreads across our scriptures. We do it weekly in our liturgy when we confess our sins and share the peace with our neighbor.
We will even address it later in the Lord’s Prayer, a part of the sermon on the mount that we find earlier in the Book of Matthew:
Chapter 6, verse 12 when Jesus says, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Scholar William Barclay wrote: “Of all the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer this is the most frightening. ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’….It is…quite clear that….if we say, ‘I will never forgive so-and-so for what he or she has done to me’…and then take this petition on our lips, we are quite deliberately asking God not to forgive us….To be forgiven we must forgive, and that is a condition of forgiveness which only the power of Christ can enable us to fulfill.”
Forgiveness can be hard, but it isn’t a seven times thing, there is no tally to be achieved. And for those debts that may be more painful than just a hundred denarii, forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. A process not necessarily to be confused with that of prevention, repentance, healthy boundaries, restoration, or even reconciliation. Forgiveness is God’s divine gift of mercy and grace to give through us. So as we have been forgiven, Christ has already forgiven all of those that we may still struggle to come to terms with.
Our lesson from the 1st Reading out of Genesis with Joseph and his Brothers may paint too perfect of a picture of what forgiveness should look like, without the painstaking, continuous hard work that goes into forgiveness, a process greater than words, deeper, heartfelt.
With Forgiveness we are not changing the past, but we are changing the future. We are creating a new slate, on the foundations of mercy and grace, a clean slate in our lives and how we interact with one another in this thing we call community.
I leave you with a part of Martin Luther’s Sermon on this text.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
P: We come to you O God of resurrection with feet stuck in the world of the cross. Around us and among us people are dying by the tens of thousands, victims of the rampant Covid 19 disease. Like a horse from the Apocalypse, the plague marches through our community without regard to whom it brings grief. As you brought refuge and strength to the Psalmist, bring us a portion of that strength here and now.
O God, you are our sword and our shield: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
You welcome us when we are weak in faith. Uphold your church throughout the world; make it a place of welcome. Strengthen faith through Bible studies and Sunday schools, confirmation classes, youth ministries, and campus ministries. Nurture CCLCS in its ministry to Rohnert Park and the world.
O God, you are our rainbow of promise: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray, O God, for peace and justice in the world: for a full embrace of racial equality and compassion; for concord during this time of political rivalry and unrest; for the heads of state, legislators, and local civic leaders, that they enact wise procedures to lead us into a wholesome and prosperous future.
O God, you are our Mighty Fortress: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray, O God for all who are facing the coronavirus: for all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. We pray for physicians, nurses, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization. Fill the aching in our hearts with your merciful power.
O God, you provide our everlasting home: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray, O God, for all in need:
• for those suffering for the faith;
• for those who are poor, hungry, and homeless;
• for those who are sick and those awaiting death;
• and for those in the Cross and Crown family...
• Pastor Ted
• Paul (father of Becky C’s co-worker)
• Bill (Fred’s brother-in-law)
• Barb A. (former member)
• Richard Y
• Lynn B.
• Johnita (Deborah Mc’s friend)
• Deborah Mc.
• Richard (Sue’s friend)
• Steven (Carol C.’s cousin)
• Ditka (Robert S’ ex-wife)
• Lynne C’s family
• Abigail D.
• Linda (Joanne B’s friend)
• Joanne (Kim B.’ friend)
• Carole B.
• Chris (Mandy’s BIL)
• Chris (Diane C’s son)
• Roger (Michelle S’ friend)
• Sawyer (Michelle S’ friend)
• Ed F. (Vicki B’s father)
• Gabe B.
• Mark (Curtis S’s friend)
• Kendra (Deborah M’s niece)
Home bound Members
• Robert and Leona A.
• Dick and Dorothy N.
• Ruth M.
• Pastor Leon H.
• Beverly L.
• Ginny C.
O God, you are the Healer of our every ill: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Receive our thanks for all who died in the faith and bring us at the final resurrection into your everlasting life, where sorrows will be no more. Into your gracious and mighty hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever.
P: Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless us now and forever.