9 Sep 2020 • General
Iona–style Morning Prayer
The world belongs to God,
the earth and all its people.
How good it is, how wonderful,
to live together in unity.
Love and faith come together,
justice and peace join hands.
Open our lips, O God,
and our mouths shall proclaim your praise.
Holy God, maker of all,
have mercy on us.
Jesus Christ, servant of the poor,
have mercy on us.
Holy Spirit, breath of life,
have mercy on us.
At the centre of our faith is the belief that God' goodnessis at the heart of humanity, planted more deeply than all that is wrong.Let us in silence confess our faults and admit our frailty. (silence)
For the dullness of our vision, Father forgive.
For the weakness of our faith, Jesus forgive.
For the joylessness of our living, Spirit forgive.
Holy Three have mercy upon us; forgive us our sins,
help us to seek,
help us to see,
help us to serve you.
Listen to the words of Jesus, words that we can
trust: “Don't be afraid, your sins are forgiven.
I love you. Come and follow me”.
A Prayer for God's help
Move among us O God; give us life.
Let your people rejoice in you.
Make our hearts clean within us.
Renew us in mind and spirit.
Give us again the joy of your help.
With your spirit of freedom, sustain us.
The Collect for the day
defend your church from all false teaching
and give to your people knowledge of your truth,
that we may enjoy eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Readings for the day,
Romans 14 verses 1-6
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.
The Gospel for the day
Matthew 18 verses 21 - 33
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.
‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 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 servent fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, he released him and forgave the debt.
But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-servant 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-servants 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 servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-servant, as I had mercy on you?”
At the end of the readings:
For the word of God in Scripture,
for the word of God among us,
for the word of God within us,
Thanks be to God.
A Short Reflection
It’s probably going to be true to say that the past few months will have taught most of us many things – many lessons or many truths. Perhaps we’ve encountered the little foibles of those we live amongst with a little less enthusiasm or tolerance than we might have done in the past, when we encountered them less often. Perhaps we’ve encountered a care and concern for others coming from unexpected people, offers of help may have come from previously un-thought of corners of our communities, to us and to others. Maybe we’ve discovered a new found respect for some people and the life that they live, or a new awareness of the problems others are living with – a realisation of the fragility of the life some folks are living, of their difficulties and their sorrows.
And perhaps in recent months we’ve also encountered our self in a new way; seen how some of our ways of relating or behaving are not always as helpful or caring as they might be, realised where we may be able to lend a helping hand, do a task for a friend or neighbour, something which is just a small job for us but which has a big impact on the other person’s daily life, or on their well-being. We’ve maybe encountered our own weaknesses with regret and unease, but hopefully we’ve also been able to experience our strengths in a positive and affirming way.
In the Letter to the Romans Paul declares that some people believe in eating anything, while others are vegetarian. Some people believe that one day is more important than other days, while others believe that all days carry an equal importance. Those may seem like unimportant and insignificant details of people’s lives, and in many ways indeed they are, but so often it’s the unimportant and seemingly insignificant details which are taken out of context and out of proportion that go on to cause the most difficulty, disunity and pain in our communities and in our world.
The Letter to the Romans calls on us to look again at what we see, what we encounter or what we experience, and to encounter those realities in a different light. It calls on us to acknowledge and to accept as real and honest those things that others do differently to our self, those things which people believe differently to our self.
The reading from Matthew’s Gospel carries a very similar message within the context of how much forgiving of others we might be expected to do. Must I forgive the one who offends me as many as seven times says Peter? We can almost see the wry smile on Jesus face as he tells Peter that he’s way off the mark in his calculation here. Not a tiny little seven times says Jesus but seventy-seven times – or in some translations seven times seventy times. That’s clearly meant to mean don’t keep count, just be prepared to forgive, and to keep on forgiving.
That’s not necessarily an easy message. It’s not a comfortable story to read or to ponder on, but it’s clearly linked to that notion we encountered in Romans that there isn’t any one right way, people will always do things differently and whatever the way that each of us chooses– to complete our task, to live our life, to express our faith – is never the only way. In Matthew’s story the one man is released from his significant debt but then himself refuses to release another from theirmuch smaller debt to him. Forgiveness, says the parable, is a two way street, and we all walk both ways along that street. Forgive because you’ll always be in need of forgiveness yourself; but forgive also because it’s the generous, loving and caring action, and it helps us all to keep life’s ups and downs, our carelessness, thoughtlessness and failures of compassion – and that of others – in a more realistic perspective.
Our Affirmation of Faith
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.
We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Let us pray:
You may like to:
give thanks for something good that has happened for you.
pray for someone you know who is in trouble of some sort
pray for your friends and family
remember someone who has died.
The Lord’s prayer
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.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.Amen.
O God, you have set before us a great hope
that your kingdom will come on earth, and have taught us to pray for its coming.Make us ready to thank you for the signs of its dawning, and to pray and work for the perfect day when your will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In the name of Jesus Christ.Amen.
May the blessing of the God of life be ours,
the blessing of the loving Christ be ours,
the blessing of the Holy Spirit be ours,
to cherish us, to help us, to make us holy.
Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God!