Sunday Worship – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

13th September 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.

Hymn of Praise

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore his praises sing.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King!

Praise him for his grace and favour
to his people in distress.
Praise him, still the same as ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness!

Fatherlike he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows.
In his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet his mercy flows!

Angels, help us to adore him;
you behold him face to face.
Sun and moon, bow down before him,
dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace!

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.

Spirit of God, search our hearts.


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

We confess our sins to God.

God of mercy,
we have sinned against you and against others.
We have sinned in what we have done,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for our sins,
forgive us all that is past
and raise us to newness of life. 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

Compassionate God,
your forgiveness is more than we can imagine.
Enable us to take hold of the forgiveness you offer
and to have the grace to forgive others as we are forgiven.
Through Jesus Christ our Liberator,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Ministry of the Word

A reading from 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.

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

Psalm 103

Praise the Lord O my soul:
and all that is within me praise God’s holy name.

Praise the Lord O my soul:
and forget not all that God has done for you.

The Lord forgives you all your sin:
and heals you of all your infirmities.

The Lord saves your life from the grave:
and crowns you with love and mercy.


The Lord fills your life with good things:
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

You Lord are righteous in your acts:
and bring justice to all that are oppressed.


You showed your ways to Moses:
your deeds to the children of Israel.

You are full of compassion and mercy:
slow to anger and rich in kindness
.

You will not always be chiding:
nor do you keep your anger for ever.

You have not dealt with us according to our sins:
nor punished us according to our wickedness.


For as the heavens are high above the earth:
so great is your mercy over those who fear you.

As far as the east is from the west:
so far have you put away our sins from us.


As parents have compassion on their children:
so do you Lord have compassion on those who fear you.

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 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, seventyseven times. “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 would 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 would 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.”

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

The Sermon How Many times?

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 18:21-35


How many times?

Peter asks one of those questions that was probably in everyone’s mind, but everyone else (including me) is afraid to ask in case they look dumb. “How many times should I forgive?” Peter offers an answer, “As many as seven times?” It’s a very generous suggestion, because Jewish tradition permitted up to three times. Peter is willing to go the extra kilometre, but then Jesus takes the question into a totally different realm. It’s a realm that we saw come alive in a Christchurch courtroom. Those who brought it to life weren’t Christians, but Muslims. People whose loved ones had been murdered by a man consumed by hatred and fear. These people are seeking to live out the teaching of Jesus.

Peter’s question was about limits. How generous should I be? But Jesus says, “Not seven times, but … seventy-seven times.” That’s his way of saying, beyond calculation. Jesus removes the arithmetic and
talks about unlimited forgiveness. Why? Because this is what God is like. God is a serial forgiver, and that’s how we are to forgive.

Jesus tells an outlandish story about a servant who owed the king 10,000 talents. It’s an amount of gigantic proportions, yet the king forgave him the debt. Now, this servant was owed just 100 denarii,
but when it came for him to forgive his fellow servant this paltry amount, no mercy was offered. The debt the servant owed to the king was something like $50,000,000. The debt that was owed to him was a mere $100. This utterly ridiculous contrast demonstrates the extent of God’s mercy towards us. There’s no calculation in God’s forgiveness.

Such unlimited forgiveness is what we need to work for. We renounce the all-too human desire to get even. Instead, we keep forgiving those who hurt us. We take this path because, having been created in the image and likeness of God, we seek to mirror God dealings with us. We know, only too well, how hard this can be. If you’re like me, and I suspect you are, we need to pray for the strength not to get even with those who hurt us. We need large doses of grace to reflect just a little of God’s merciful dealings with us. The last verse of the reading reminds us: ‘So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ It’s like the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that says, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against is.’ This doesn’t mean God works with us in a tit for tat fashion. We don’t earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving someone who has injured us. Rather, as we grow in following Jesus, we constantly ask for the grace and help to reflect in our lives God’s dealings with us.

This presents me with a challenge. I’m very happy to accept God’s forgiveness of me. But am I willing to offer it to others? There are times when I want to behave like the unforgiving servant: pleased with the idea of a forgiving God, but not if it requires me to change the way I relate to people.

Forgiveness often involves struggle. Sister Helen, in her book Dead Man Walking tells the story of Lloyd LeBlanc, whose son was murdered. When Lloyd arrived to identify his son, he knelt by the boy’s body and prayed the Lord’s Prayer. When he came to the words, ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,’ he realised the depth of the commitment he was making. ‘Whoever did this, I must forgive them,’ he later told Sister Helen. Though it’s was difficult for him not to be overcome by bitterness and feelings of revenge, he prayed that line each day, for the rest of his life. Forgiveness, he found, was something that he had to pray for, struggle for, and win.

Forgiveness can be costly. To embark on the work of forgiveness may mean continuing to feel the pain for some time – requiring us to work through the complexity of our emotions. But we undertake this work in the knowledge that we live in God’s company – God who proclaims that compassionate mercy and loving forgiveness are at the heart of what really matters, and that we are a forgiven people.

Scripture speaks of un-forgiveness being like a debt. When someone is in debt to us, we have power over them. ‘They hurt me, so they owe me to make it right.’ We can become driven by the need to see the debt paid. We collect it in different ways. We can take it out on the person, which we see as evening the score. We can bad mouth them and convince others of how much they owe us. There’s nothing wrong in wanting things to be resolved. The problem is that things only get resolved through forgiveness. The wrong can never be undone. It can only be forgiven and thereby rendered powerless. To forgive means to write off the debt and tear up the account, which is what God does for us. As Paul put it: ‘God wiped out all the charges that were against us… [God] took them away and nailed them to the cross.’ Forgiveness is an act of giving. We cancel the debt, and say, ‘I no longer hold this against
you.’

Forgiveness involves a choice. We can either hold onto our right to get what’s owed to us, or we can relinquish that right and step out into the realm of grace and begin to forgive as God has forgiven us. It’s also worth remembering that forgiveness adds to our well-being. Un forgiveness is selfdestructive. By keeping our bitterness, hatred, and resentment, the person we damage most is ourselves. It cuts us off from others and becomes an all-consuming passion. Forgiveness allows us to move through the pain, the resentment, the anger to a placing of healing and new life.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. The memory may stay with us a long time. What changes is how we relate to it. As life goes on, and we remember something that was hurtful, we remind ourselves that with God’s grace we have forgiven the one that hurt us. Gradually the vividness of the hurt dulls and the memory fades. We must never let the person who hurt us own us. Forgiveness finally changes us from prisoners of our past to being at peace with our memories. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to remain in abusive or destructive situations. Nor does it mean that we trust someone who has shown themselves to be un-trustworthy. But it does mean that we face our animosity and make the choice to cancel the debt. That is the choice exercised by some of our Muslim sisters and brothers. It is a choice that we will undoubtedly face.

God of infinite mercy,
grant that we who know your compassion
may rejoice in your forgiveness
and gladly forgive others
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Alister Hendery
St Matthew’s, Hastings – 13.9.2020

Hymn for reflection: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

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.

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.

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
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.

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
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.

Prayers

We pray for the earth and for all people:

O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for all people and especially those affected by the pandemic. Make your ways known upon earth, O God, your saving power among all peoples. Help
us to lighten their burden and to seek justice and peace for all.
God of love
grant our prayer.

We pray for the Church throughout the world:

Guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that all who call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in holiness of life. Strengthen Andrew our bishop and all your church in the service of Christ that we may be witnesses to your compassion.
God of love
grant our prayer.

We pray for those who are suffering:

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bless those who care for them. We remember those who have died in Christ, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.
God of love
grant our prayer.

We pray for ourselves and our ministries:

Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours; that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.
God of love
grant our prayer.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and all people to your unfailing love.
Accept these prayers we pray in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 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. 

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The almighty and merciful God bless us and keep us now and for ever. Amen.

KEEP IN TOUCH

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

Also our St Matthew’s Facebook

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.