Sunday Reflection 13.9.20

Sunday Morning Reflection   13.9.20   

Good Morning , I am Karen Harbison, the Minister of Westburn Parish Church , Greenock and I am glad to welcome you  to this time of worship. Everyone is welcome, whether you are often at Westburn Parish Church, or whether you have never been there in person before. Everyone is welcome as we, each in our own places, our own homes, come to worship God.

Last week in our worship we included the hymn ‘Make me a channel of your peace’ based on the prayer of St Francis of Assissi. The hymn incudes the lines : –

‘Where there is injury , your pardon , Lord’ and ‘  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned ‘

These words say something about the importance of forgiveness which is the theme for our worship today and is what Jesus spoke about through the parable we are reading from Matthew chapter 18.

Opening words

God is merciful, patient and kind,

slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Jesus teaches us how to forgive

not once, not twice , not even seven times

but seventy times seven.

Let us open our ears to learn about forgiveness

and let us come together in worship.

Hymn – Join in with Ferryhill Virtual Choir’s version of ‘ Here in this place’

Let us pray

God our maker, we love you.

We love the beauty and wonder of this world.We delight in the stars and the heavens.

We recognise your smile and your tears in each other’s faces and lives.

Jesus our friend, we love you.

We love your stories that make us laugh, cry and question.

We recognise ourselves and others amongst your tales of bakers and children and kings.

Holy Spirit our safe-keeper, we love you.

We love your challenge and  your mystery.

We recognise you breathing in us, your love and your justice and life.

Accept our worship this day.

Hear the words we sing,

the words we whisper,

the words too difficult to speak.

Forgive us for the ways we fail each other and you, especially when we refuse to give or receive forgiveness.

And help us to hear the words of Jesus

So that we are better able to forgive and to be forgiven

And hear as we pray together as Jesus taught

Our Father who art in heaven

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts

as we forgive our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil

for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory

Now and forever

Amen

Last week we heard Jesus talking about the ‘process’ if you like for dealing with conflict between Christians – for that to lead to resolution and reconciliation, forgiveness has to  be part of the process. Today we hear a story Jesus told to help people understand more of what forgiveness means.

Today Joanne reads our bible passage for us.

Let us hear the Word of God

Bible Reading – Matthew 18 : 21 – 35

Reflection

Peter had travelled with Jesus, had listened to his stories, had heard his conversations with people, had done his fair share of asking questions and getting things wrong and getting things right….. perhaps Peter thought he was getting the hang of what following Jesus was all about, perhaps Peter thought he was being generous when , answering his own question about how many times he was to forgive someone else , Peter said seven times. Jesus said no ,  more, many more times … seventy times seven. Jesus wasn’t asking people to keep a tally of the number of times someone forgave another person…. up to seven times or up to seventy times seven but pointing to a way of forgiving that didn’t keep a record at all. Jesus was talking about an inexhaustible capacity for forgiveness and he told a story to help Peter to understand more fully. Peter was to go on forgiving again and again. The focus in today’s story is about an individual’s response to being individually wronged and the unlimited nature of forgiveness which reflects God’s forgiveness. Such attitude and action of forgiveness makes a huge difference to relationships between individuals and relationships within a community.

Peter should not have been surprised that Jesus reply was one of such generosity for Peter had been among the first to hear and pray the words which Jesus taught , the prayer which  has at its heart ‘ forgive us as we forgive others’

And we who pray this prayer today are reminded again through hearing this story , of the generosity and unlimited nature of God’s forgiveness and mercy which we seek and which we are called to live. St Paul knew that love does not keep a record of wrongs. St Francis knew that injury needed pardon and that it is in pardoning that we find forgiveness . Forgiveness can create a peace that enables reconciliation , understanding and healing. Forgiveness brings freedom from the chains of bitterness and hope for a better way of living together.

May we be willing to seek forgiveness , to receive forgiveness and to show forgiveness… in Jesus name

Amen

Let us pray

Forgiving God

We thank you that you forgive us . We thank you for  all the people who have forgiven us and we pray that you will help us to forgive others

We bring to you our prayers for others

We pray for those who hold on to bitterness and find it hard to forgive others.

We pray for those who struggle to trust that they are forgiven and  so their relationships with others continue to be damaged

God, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for those who live near us , those we pass in the street and those we talk with on a daily basis.

We pray for neighbours in different parts of the world , who are living in difficult circumstances , those fleeing for their lives and those stuck in refugee camps .

God in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for those who are ill, those who are anxious and those who are grieving

God in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for our families and those closest to us – for our needs, our hopes, our fears, our dreams

God in your mercy, hear these and all our prayers.

May we and all those for whom we pray know your presence and love and may we live in your ways of goodness and mercy , now and always.

Amen

For further reflection – The Moderator has been having  conversations with different people over the last weeks and sharing  those via  ‘ It’s a Fair Question’ on the Church of Scotland website. The most recent conversation is with two Church of Scotland ministers who have come to Scotland following persecution of their families in Pakistan in 2013. The conversation helps us to think further about forgiveness and to become more aware of the situations Christians in different parts of the world live in. Why not take time to listen  and watch today ?

Blessing

Go on loving, forgiving, showing mercy  now and may the blessing of God , the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you today and always

Amen

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