Reflections for Sunday 13th September from Jacquie Brown
Faithful and loving God;
In these times of continuing challenge to our ordinary ways of life and to our Christian fellowship, we lift before you all those striving to maintain our communities, our democracy and public services, and the prayer, worship and teaching of our faith. May we draw strength from knowing that the worship you desire is the practice of justice, mercy and humility; and remind us that no situation is so difficult or unprecedented that you cannot reach us through it, with your creative and sustaining love. Through Jesus who passed through death to life for us:
Canon Carol Wardman
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Old Testament: Exodus 14. 19-31. Psalm 114. New Testament: Romans 14. 1-12
Gospel: Matthew 18. 21-35
Reflection on The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
In some ways, the story of the unmerciful servant seems a bit harsh. After all, in the end, the servant did receive the punishment due to him, but only because he refused to show mercy to others. God grants us mercy no matter what we do, but out of gratitude to Him we want to live lives that offer forgiveness to those around us. The parable reminds us that God is a master of justice, but His mercy outweighs that every time. He loves us and will wipe away our sins, no matter what. This message aims to help us value and understand that. As people, we mess up. But God’s forgiveness is pure and perfect.
We sometimes develop the idea that being forgiven requires us to do something—we somehow must earn God’s love and acceptance. The Law would condemn us and have us live under fear of punishment. Mercy means that we don’t get that punishment we deserve. Because of Jesus, we receive Heaven instead of punishment! He gives us all that we need, and we want to pass that forgiveness along to other people, as well.
This is particularly critical because it has to do with our relationship with God, and our relationships with one another. We are talking about forgiveness. Has anyone ever done something wrong to you? Something that made you upset, and you had to deal with it?
Here’s another question: have YOU ever done something that you knew was wrong? Maybe against a friend, or family? It can be hard to admit when we do wrong, but it’s important to say sorry, and it’s important to ask for and receive forgiveness. Sometimes we as people have a hard time forgiving, but the great thing for us is that God gives us mercy time and again.
If I scribble or draw on a piece of paper and then mess something up, I might take the eraser and try to clean it off, it smudges and sort of takes it away, but you can still see some marks on the paper, can’t you? This is a little like human forgiveness. It’s important for us to forgive one another and love one another, but sometimes, even though we try, we still have smudges and reminders of what other people have done to us.
However, if I use a white board I can delete it and not leave any mark at all.
Even if I mark again…and again…and again…that eraser will take it right off. This is more like how God’s forgiveness works. He knows that we have made mistakes, and will make mistakes again. But He forgives us every time, and lets us start over fresh and new!
In the Gospel story today, there was a man who owed his king a huge debt. He couldn’t re-pay it, but the king erased it and said it was okay! However, that man turned around to a friend who owed him just a little bit of money, and got so mad he had the guy thrown into jail! The king was angry that his servant had not treated his friend with the same forgiveness he was shown. Jesus told this parable to remind us that God has given us a huge amount of mercy. That means we deserve to be punished for our sins, but instead He wipes our slate clean!
We can be thankful for that, and in return, God wants us to pass that along. He wants us to forgive one another when people do things against us. This is what we say in the Lord’s prayer, after all! Now, forgiving others doesn’t mean we let them hurt us or walk all over us. But it does mean recognising God’s mercy, and out of gratitude for that passing it along. Our forgiveness to others is never “perfect.”
"Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'