Sunday Morning Worship Service September 17, 2023 – Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
September 17, 2023

Sunday Morning Worship Service September 17, 2023 – Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Preacher:
Passage: Exodus 14:19-31, Psalm 114:1-8, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35

Worship Series
The Journey Begins

Sermon Title
How Many Times?

Sermon Message

We aren’t living in forgiving times.  Even a cursory glance at the news will tell us that.  When we’re divided into us and them, forgiveness rarely enters the conversation.  Do we hear this call from our Lord as a call to live counterculturally?  Are we to swim against the tide of anger and vengeance and hatred, and present a different face to the world?  Isn’t this risky, this forgiveness thing?  Well, yes.  If we’re doing it right.  It will be risky, scary and world-changing; it will be transformative if we take this call seriously.

Can we give space in worship to accept forgiveness and to offer it?  Can we call one another to set aside grudges and suspicions and prejudices long enough to even consider what it means to be forgiving?  How can we challenge the congregation to see the personal impact this grace would have on us and those around us?  Perhaps we need a workshop on forgiveness, or at least space to understand, to learn about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t; and there might not be a way to do that during worship.  But we could plant some seeds; we could issue the invitation to consider what a life of forgiveness might look like in our real-world living.  And most importantly, perhaps, we can give the Spirit space to work in us and on us as we wrestle with this forgiveness thing this week.

We can be challenged by the Gospel text in concert with the Old Testament text.  We can examine our reaction to hearing the relief and the joy at the drowning of Pharoah’s army, for example.  Then we can hear Jesus’s response to Peter while those emotions are still fresh within us.  How might that prepare us to hear the word proclaimed today?  How might it bring us to the place of prayer and then surrender to the activity of the Spirit in our own souls?

We can be honest with ourselves and with God as we realize that we too often have asked that same question, “How many times must I forgive?”