Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity 17 November 2019 A.D. MP

Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity      17 November 2019 A.D.     Morning Prayer

Psalm 7      First lesson. Zechariah 7:8-14    Second lesson. Matthew 18:21-35

                                      Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy household the
                                      Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection
                                      it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given
                                      to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy
                                      Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.                     Amen.


                                             Mercy and true judgment

  A number of years ago I worked for a very fine gentleman. He was a decorated veteran from the Vietnam war, was a productive and civically active member of his community. We would have discussions about vengeance and forgiveness. He would talk about folk who had wronged him over time, how much he held that against them, how he wouldn’t forget their transgressions against him. I would ask him how much time did he think these offenders spent on thinking about how they had offended my boss?  I asked him how much energy did he put into “hating” or seeking redress for past wrongs?  Many of these folk were advanced in years, they had committed these offenses years earlier, during my boss’s formative years, and most had forgotten what they had said or done to him. 
I would ask him how much energy was spent on remembering these wrongs? Was it worth the time and angst to keep the wounds open?  We had some interesting exchanges on this topic.
 I remember that years later, after having moved on in my career, he in his, we would meet occasionally to reminisce about our days of working together.  The topic of revenge and unforgotten wrongs would come up. He did admit that there was possibly too much time spent on remembering these past wrongs. Many of the folks by then had died. So there was no possibility of exacting revenge.
Towards the end of his life we were able to broach the subject and he was finally at peace with the reality of the uselessness of seeking revenge and keeping of grudges. 
I don’t attribute it to my great wisdom, I think that I was able to convey the message of forgiveness that God offers us, when we repent and turn from our wickedness and live, he offers Salvation and forgiveness through his Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. That is the true message of mercy and compassion God has visited upon his prime creation, mankind. 
  As we read the passage from the minor prophet Zechariah, we see a very clear outline and process we are to exhibit to the family of God.  Notice that both in the Zechariah passage and the following one from Matthew the term “brother” keeps showing up. Brother implies a relationship, not based on friendship, but based on being part of the family of God. 
Christians are well known for shooting their wounded.  We have a great reputation of ‘taking out’ those who have fallen within our ranks.  
Now of course there is a process, the often unused process of ecclesiastical or church discipline. When we forget to follow that process: {Mt 18:15-17} there are all sorts of problems that will arise. Church discipline is very important. It is a matter of family. We must guard and offer guidance to all those who are in the family of God.  To not do so is a form of spiritual abuse. It is because some folks do not want confrontation many parishes become sick spiritually. If you do not follow the Word of God, especially in helping younger brothers and sisters grow spiritually, you are neglecting a great part of the spiritual health of your parish.
   Why is this so important?  Because those of us who are more senior in spiritual experiences by that very reason, must pass on that wisdom to those younger folk in the faith, who need the guidance and direction. Simply put. 
   Peter asked the Lord how many times should he forgive those who sin against him. “Seven times seven?”   “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
    In other words, Jesus was telling Peter to stop counting. Interesting idea.  
How many times have WE sinned against God?  How many times do we want God to forgive us?
 In our daily prayers we should make use of the prayer Jesus taught us to say: 

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 trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
  So what is implied by this model prayer?  Seeking forgiveness for our sins (trespasses) as well as forgiving those who trespass against us.   
  My late boss finally came to that conclusion. He understood that Jesus has forgiven us for our trespasses, so we should forgive those who had done the same to us.  
You know what that produces?  PEACE.  Yes, there is a sense and a realization of peace that flood the soul of one who truly seeks the Lord’s forgiveness.

  Now in the truest sense of justice and judgement, Jesus would reveal what would happen to someone who did not forgive others.  In the parable Jesus relates the forgiveness for a great debt that the servant owed his master. A very great debt. The master, after being begged for time to pay off the debt by the servant did the most unlikely thing, he offered forgiveness of that debt by the servant, in total. The whole debt was cancelled!
  This forgiven servant then turns around and goes after an underling of his and demands that he pays back a very tiny debt. He offers no mercy, he has the debtor cast into debtors prison until the debt was paid off. No mercy was offered to the hapless underling. Other servants, alarmed by the proceedings, tell the lord of the realm about this turn of events. 
The lord is wrought with anger. He has the previously forgiven servant striped of his possessions and cast into debtors prison to make amends on the debt.  And then notice the final warning:
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
  One must not read into this passage any ideas of a loss of salvation. That is not what this is saying, it is about doing the right thing when it comes to the family of God.   And always remember, you are one prayer away from forgiveness. You must daily seek forgiveness from your sins.  Why? Because daily we sin, whether by commission or omission, we sin and so we must daily ask God to forgive us. Why? Because he set into motion the very instrument of forgiveness: the great Immanuel.  By sending his Son, Jesus Christ to show us the way, to be the way, to die on the Cross, to be buried, and on that Glorious Day, rise from the dead, we can know that we are forgiven.  We must just ask for it.

Let us pray:

LOOK, we beseech thee, O Lord, upon the people of this land who are called after thy holy Name; and grant that they may ever walk worthy of their Christian profession. Grant unto us all that, laying aside our divisions, we may be united in heart and mind to bear the burdens which are laid upon us. Help us to respond to the call of our country according to our several powers put far from us selfish indifference to the needs of others; and give us grace to fulfil our daily duties with sober diligence. Keep us from all uncharitableness in word or deed; and enable us by patient continuance in well-doing to glorify thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.           Amen. 

O LORD Jesus Christ, who as a child didst learn, and didst grow in wisdom; Grant us so to learn thy holy Word, that we may walk in thy ways and daily grow more like unto thee, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

 ALMIGHTY Father, who didst send thine only Son that through him all men might be saved; Enable those who teach so to consecrate their lives that, being themselves led of thee, they may lead thy children in the paths of everlasting life; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
 

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