Sunday Worship – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St Matthew’s Anglican Parish, Hastings
A Christian community in the heart of the City

16th August 2020

The Preparation

Great is the Lord and worthy of all praise..
Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour,
power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.

Great and wonderful are your deeds O Lord God the almighty:
just and true are your ways O Sovereign of the nations.
Who shall not revere and praise your name O Lord?
for you alone are holy.
All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.
To the One who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb:
be blessing and honour, glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.


As God who called you is holy,
be holy yourselves in all your conduct.
Spirit of God, search our hearts.

In silence we remember our need for God’s forgiveness.

We confess our sins to God.

Almighty and merciful God,
we have sinned against you,
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with all our heart.
We have not loved others
as our Saviour Christ loves us.
We are truly sorry.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Almighty God, who pardons all who truly repent,
forgive our sins, strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Collect

God of compassion,
you love every person without exception.
Turn our hearts so that we may love our neighbour.
Remove from us everything we use
to exclude our sisters and brothers.
Guard the door of our lips
so that what we say may be worthy of our calling as your people.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Ministry of the Word

Psalm 133

How good and pleasant a thing it is:
   when Gods’ people live together in unity.
It is like the precious oil on Aarons head,
   which ran down on to his beard:
   and over the collar of his vestment.
It is like the dew of Hermon:
   falling upon the hill of Zion.
For there the Lord promised the blessing:
   which is life for evermore.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
   as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

A reading from Genesis 45:1–15

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his
brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer
him, so dismayed were they at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near
me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you
and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honoured in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

Psalm 133


How good and pleasant a thing it is:
when Gods’ people live together in unity.
It is like the precious oil on Aarons head,
which ran down on to his beard:
and over the collar of his vestment.
It is like the dew of Hermon:
falling upon the hill of Zion.
For there the Lord promised the blessing:
which is life for evermore.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.


The Song of Zechariah – Benedictus


Blessèd are you O Lord our God:
you have come to your people and set them free.

You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour:
born of the house of your servant David.

Through your holy prophets you promised of old:
that you would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.

You promised to show mercy to our forbears:
and to remember your holy covenant.

This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship you without fear:

holy and righteous in your sight all the days of our life.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High:
for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
to give God’s people knowledge of salvation:
through the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God:
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death:
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
(Luke 1: 68-79 (adapted)

The Sermon A Story of Forgiveness:
Joseph – Part 2

Ordinary Sunday 20 (A).
Genesis 45:1-15


20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Genesis 45:1-15
A story of forgiveness: Joseph – Part 2

The Old Testament reading lands us in the middle of the Joseph story.
To recap – Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son. This favouritism incited
such jealousy in Joseph’s brothers that they planned to murder him,
but at the last moment they changed their minds and sold him into
slavery. Two decades later we find him as second in command to
Pharaoh. In that time Joseph rode the roller coaster of family rejection,
to slavery, to a favoured position in his master’s household, to an unjust accusation of sexual harassment, to lying forgotten in prison for years, to release and gaining the favour of Pharaoh, to his rise to power and authority over Egypt.

Joseph isn’t an attractive character, but I’m grateful for his story. Like me, you may have experienced broken relationships, jealousy, even hatred. And our journey with God isn’t a straightforward process. For many of us it often seems like two steps forward and one step back, and we’re left questioning our value in God’s scheme of things. Yet, through it all, God somehow still works through us. This may surprise us, but the good news is that God uses people like Joseph and his
forebears, and people like us, to fulfil the divine purposes.

There are times when life gets so dark, that we may wonder whether God has forgotten us. So, it was for Joseph. He was incarcerated for something he didn’t do, and no one wanted to know him. But one thing sustained him throughout. As the narrator puts it: ‘But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love’. That’s been my experience – times when all I’ve had to hold onto is a knowing that God’s steadfast love is somehow present. It’s the bottom-line of faith. It doesn’t guarantee us an easy ride. The journey is still painful, as Joseph discovered.

Joseph’s story involved deception, loss, and suffering, and somehow through it all, he found God was faithfully present. He came to recognise God, not as the creator of these circumstances, but the weaver, taking every piece of his life, good and bad, and creating out of them something that could be used in God’s purposes. That’s why this story is a gift. It tells us that God embraces every element of our lives — weaving them together and somehow bringing new life out of deathly experiences — creating out of flawed beings something that reflects God’s own self.

The point in the story that we reach today finds Joseph, as second in command in all of Egypt. Joseph had interpreted a dream the Pharaoh had, predicting seven years of abundance and seven years of scarcity. Then he’d put into place a system of production, storage, and distribution so that the country could survive the famine. Meanwhile, people in other regions were also suffering, including Canaan, where Joseph’s father Jacob lived with his family. Word reached Jacob that there was grain to be had in Egypt, and as the family was desperate for food, Jacob decided to send his sons to Egypt to see if they could buy some. However, he held back his youngest, Benjamin, for Benjamin was the only remaining son of his beloved Rachel, and Jacob was still grieving the loss of Joseph. No way would Jacob let Benjamin out of his sight.

The brothers present themselves to the great Overseer of Egypt, having no idea that this all-powerful man is the boy they had sold into slavery. The scene portrayed in today’s reading is when Joseph reveals his identity and the brothers are reconciled. It’s a moving scene, as reconciliation scenes often are, but as so often, there’s more to it. What does it take to forgive someone for hating you, for hurting you, for lying about you, and in doing that, hurting others whom you love? Forgiveness, to hear Jesus talk, is at the heart of what it means to be a follower of his. So, what does it take?

Forgiveness is an option, though not one (if we’re to believe the media) that people often take. When a family forgives a convicted criminal it’s newsworthy. It seems to me that we’re more often than not encouraged to continue to play the victim and nurture our resentment or sense of injustice. For sure, Jacob now has all the power. He could throw the lot of them into jail, torture them, and teach them a lesson. However, he chooses to forgive. Still, he requires some sense that his brothers have truly repented of what they did to him. That seems reasonable. It’s far easier to forgive someone when you can see that they’re sorry. So, Joseph tests them. Without letting them know his
true identity, he demands that they produce Benjamin. Then he lays a trap by having a valuable cup hidden in Benjamin’s luggage. When Benjamin is caught red-handed, Joseph watches to see how his
brothers handle the situation. Will they again punish a favourite son? Will they cut and run, leaving Benjamin to fend for himself? Will they concoct yet another story to account for a brother’s absence? Will they break their father’s heart again? They don’t. They plead for their brother. They tell Joseph about their old father back home, whose heart they can’t bear to break. Judah even offers himself as a ransom in Benjamin’s place. Joseph sees their remorse. He sees their willingness
to protect the youngest, even at the cost of their own freedom.

We usually require some sense that our forgiveness isn’t being squandered. It’s a very human response, though it misses the point. The truth about forgiveness is that we need to forgive for our own sake even more than we need to forgive for the sake of the other person. Bitterness and resentment damage us more than the other person. It creates a prison with us locked inside. When we’re finally able to forgive we step out into the fresh air of inner freedom. Joseph sets up his tests to see whether his brothers should be forgiven, but the truth is, Joseph needs to forgive his brothers for his own sake. He needs to step out of his prison.

“I am your brother, Joseph…” and he wept loudly. No one is more relieved than Joseph. He can now see how God has worked through his life: “Do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because
you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life… God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God…” Later he will say: “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.”

Joseph isn’t attributing his brothers’ actions to God. They’re responsible for what they did, but God was able to use those actions for God’s own purposes. The brothers devised evil, but God turned it
to good. God didn’t intend the harm that came to Joseph. Rather, God’s good intentions for us have the potential to be more powerful than our bad intentions towards one another. God takes the broken fragments of our lives and crafts a beautiful mosaic.

Joseph’s story is one of both challenge and hope. Challenge in that it reminds us that forgiveness and healing are part of our calling as God’s people. It’s at the heart of who God is, and when we offer forgiveness and healing, we reflect something of God. The hope is that these things can happen in even the most scarred and painful situations. We can move out of the dark prisons of pain, not by burying the hurt, but by facing it and choosing to both forgive and accept forgiveness. I wonder, what does that mean for you today. Take time now to be still and to allow Joseph’s story to connect with you story…

Alister Hendery
St Matthew’s, Hastings – 16.8.2020

Reflective hymn of praise:

– you can follow this by clicking on this link:

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love;
Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.

Refrain:
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope;
Where there is darkness, only light;
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Refrain

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving to all men that we receive;
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Refrain

Prayers

Make your ways known upon earth, O God,
your saving power among all peoples.

Renew your Church in holiness,
and help us to serve you with joy.

Guide the leaders of this and every nation,
that justice may prevail throughout the world.

Let not the needy, O God, be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Make us instruments of your peace,
and let your glory be over all the earth.


Holy and everliving God,
by your power we are created
and by your love we are redeemed;
guide and strengthen us by your Spirit,
that we may give ourselves to your service,
and live each day in love to one another and to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As Christ has taught us, we pray

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 for ever.    Amen. 

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.   Amen.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Our St Matthew’s website is being updated regularly:  https://stmattshastings.com

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CONTACTS

The Rev’d Alister Hendery: 021 742 434
Email: alister.hendery@waiapu.com

Parish Office (Tracey at home):  06 878 9476
Email: stmatthews.hastings@gmail.com

~ This copyright material is taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, © Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and is used in accordance with regulations.