Sunday 13th September 2020
Good morning and welcome to worship here at MPN. We are so glad that you have joined us for worship this morning.
Dr Seuss says:
“I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.”
Today is my last day at MPN, my last time leading worship with you. When I came here last October, we would never have imagined the changes we have gone through this year. At Easter we saw David move East to his new charge and we had moved online in the midst of a global pandemic. We haven’t met physically since March, but we have still been a community of faith in these difficult times.
I want to thank you all for your support and prayers and for welcoming me into your Church family this year. I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly and it has been a blessed year for me here with you.
God brings people together to help and support and encourage each other and that has been true for me at MPN. There are no endings, but only new beginnings and we begin again with God in a new phase for you and for me.
I know that there are all the gifts and skills here for you to serve God and you go into the future with him.
In the Church we don’t say goodbye but see you later.
God bless you all as you go into the future with God.
Call to Worship
Into your presence we come, Lord of freedom,
remembering those who fled captivity and found freedom in your sanctuary.
Into your presence we come, Lord of forgiveness,
remembering your Son’s gift to us, and your gracious reconciliation.
Into your presence we come, Lord of grace,
and we know your generosity to us is beyond our understanding.
Into your presence we come,
may we lift up our praise to you!
Reading Matthew 18:21-35
Talk 2 (Morag)
Lockdown has taught me many things and in truth has given me more time to think and reflect and to try new things. I’ve tried to cook more and to bake. In the beginning there were lumpy things, burned things and dishes that if I hadn’t had the recipe picture, I wouldn’t have known what they were supposed to be. It’s been a bit of an adventure and my mum has been used to test out these trials and is still willing to do so.
For my cooking is a bit like life for all of us. There will be lumps and bumps on the road and that is what our faith helps us with. God is willing to be patient with us and as we keep trying encourages us to keep hoping, holding before us a picture of what we will look like when we finally get to be the people we are meant to be.
But really, we would all like a smooth journey of life and faith, bumps and lumps and twists in the road cause us problems and we would rather have smooth sailing. But we are never promised this by God only that he will be with us through whatever life throws at us.
Jesus teaches us how-to live-in community together and one of the biggest teachings for me anyway of Jesus is his teaching in forgiveness.
We say the creeds and say, “We believe in the forgiveness of sins” We pray “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”
And yet do we really believe this, and do we practice it.
Or are we like a friend’s mum whose porridge was always lumpy, and they would disguise the lumps with raisins- do we do this with forgiveness.
There are many ways we disguise forgiveness but here are three main ones:
Folks say look at the way I serve God, I do all these things for the Church and my community. There is no one who does more than me. And then there are folks that they don’t speak to or haven’t forgiven for years.
Or folks say, “I can’t be part of this Church” They can’t forgive someone or something. They know Jesus teaching on forgiveness, and they take the high road and leave.
Or folks say we know Jesus tells us to forgive but surely there are something now that he doesn’t mean we should forgive that. There must be exceptions.
And we hear Peter ask Jesus:
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
To be told by Jesus
“I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
In typical Jesus fashion he goes on to tell a parable.
The master cancelling a great debt, 1 talent was worth 15 years wages and this servant owed 10,000 talents, more than a life time’s wages and it’s written off my the master. Who asked for nothing in return.
But the servant wanted payback for the master and takes it upon himself to ask the others to pay back what they owe.
But if we see the master as God, we see that God is greater and more powerful than any of us. If God cancels our sin, he can do, he is able to do just that. And not expect anything in return, except for us to follow and to love him.
We are forgiven unconditionally. Christ made it possible for us to be in this position with God and freely we have been forgiven and in God’s mercy and grace and love we live.
But at times the ways around us speak to us. Surely God wants something in return. And we work and work. It’s too good to be true nothing in this world is for nothing, no such thing as a free lunch after all. And maybe like the servant we want payback to help out God, this time must be an exception and God missed this deed off the list. This one thing can’t be forgiven.
Then we are reminded how many times ——77.
We have to keep on forgiving and even when we think it’s enough, just keep going.
It goes back to last week’s sermon, Do to others, as you would have them do to you.
I’ve heard this quote attributed to many people and trying to pin it down to someone is just impossible but it struck me when I read it:
Being resentful, they say, is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
It’s what Jesus is trying to say to us, if you hold on to something someone has said or done it eats away at you and if you don’t forgive them it’s you who suffers. The person who has wronged you has probably forgotten all about it and has moved on. If we don’t forgive it festers away inside us and just gets worse and has power over us.
If we let it go and forgive, we are free and can move on and are in a better place as a person.
Jesus knew we would need tools and ways to help us live our lives and if we were to be like the man in the parable today and need to be forgiven for a lot and we do need forgiven all the time by God, we would need to be able to experience what being forgiven felt like and truly forgive, with no agenda, no payback, just forgive with all our heart.
And it’s not meant to be easy. For lasting forgiveness has to come at a cost. We need to be prepared to let go of hurt and pain but when we really can forgive like this we are free to get on with life and not be slaves to the things of the past that hold us back.
Scarlett Lewis' son, Jesse, was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the biggest school shooting in U.S. history. At first, she said, she felt like her anger sapped all her strength and energy. She was angry at the shooter and at the mother for unwittingly arming him. But she made a choice to forgive.
She told The Forgiveness Project, "Forgiveness felt like I was given a big pair of scissors to cut the tie and regain my personal power. It started with a choice and then became a process." She urged mourners at Jesse's funeral to change their angry thoughts into loving ones, that thereby they might change the world.
Jesus teaching over the last few weeks for us has shown us how to live in the upside kingdom. Where the last will be first, where the weak will be strong, where we will put aside ourselves for the sake of others.
I don’t know about you but right now the world could use more people joining in Jesus way and walking in that way. A world where the message of the gospel changed and transforms communities and our world around us.
We will hear the words of a song that I heard just before I came to join you at MPN Church and words that will always remind me of you all. Living Hope sums up for me the way we are forgiven and restored to life in Christ.
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Saviour, I'm Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living hope.
To God the Father
God the Son
God the Holy Spirit
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
May the Blessing of God Almighty
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Be with you and remain with you and all those you love
Today and always