Sunday (Zoom) message: Setting free through forgiveness

Dayspring ZOOM Connect Worship, Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost,

September 13, 2020, 10 am MDT

Gathering

Music:  Seek ye first

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu, Alleluia

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and it shall be opened unto you
Allelu, Alleluia

Songwriter: Karen Lafferty; copyright © Maranatha! Music, The Copyright Company, 1972
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…”

Welcome and announcements

Call to Worship

L: The Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: Praise the Lord.
P: Let us praise the name of the Lord together.
L: For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is God’s steadfast love;
P: as far as the east is from the west,
    so far God removes our transgressions from us.
L: So let us rejoice in God’s presence!
P: Let us praise the name of the Lord together.

Music:  I waited on you, Lord

I waited, I waited on you, Lord
I waited, I waited on you, Lord

You bent down low and remembered me
When you heard my prayer

words: Psalm 40
music: J. Bell; © WGRG 1987 Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayers of Approach and for God’s Help and Prayer of Lament

Holy and loving One, God of might and mercy, the heavens and the earth are full of your glory. Your love transforms our lives. You take darkness and give light. You take grief and give healing. You take fatigue and give strength. You take fear and give courage. You take death and give new life. So, we come before you in worship, handing over to you all that weighs us down, waiting for your refreshing gifts. Renew us in this time of worship, we pray, so that we may serve you in Jesus’ name.

Now, as we turn to your scriptures, Lord of all knowledge, prepare our hearts and minds to receive your wisdom. Quiet in us all distracting thoughts so that we may hear your Word, and be strengthened to follow your way. In the name of Christ, we pray.

We turn to You, Lord, as we confess that our lives do not always reflect your transforming power. You are gracious, but we cling to judgment. You are kind, but we can be cruel. You are forgiving, but we nurse grudges and old wounds. You are filled with joy, but too often we are filled with dissatisfaction and complaints. Forgive us, O God, and fill us with your Holy Spirit this day, and make us new through Christ, your Son and our Saviour. In the following moments, we reflect in silence on the parts of our lives that weren’t according to your will…

Assurance of God’s faithfulness:  Minister

The proof of God’s amazing love is this: while we were sinners, Christ died for us.  Know that we are forgiven by his grace and let’s be at peace. Amen.

Music:  Open our eyes, Lord

Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch him
And say that we love him

Open our ears, Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus

Words and music: Bob Cull; © Maranatha! Music 1976; The Copyright Company
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Children’s time: Lynn Vaughan

Music offering: Fairest Lord Jesus Linda Farrah Basford

Fairest Lord Jesus, Lord of all creation
Jesus, of God and Mary the Son
Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor
O thou, my soul’s delight and crown

All fairest beauty heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in thee
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer
Than thou, my Saviour, art to me

Words and music: anonymous; public domain

Scripture reading: Matthew 18:21–35 (New Revised Standard Version)

Forgiveness

21 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?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 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. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Music:  His truth is marching on

Glory, glory hallelujah
Glory, glory hallelujah
Glory, glory hallelujah
His truth is marching on

African American spiritual
public domain

Message: “Setting free through forgiveness”

How many of us listening, watching, or even reading this here, as well as preaching it, can honestly say that throughout our lives we think we have always forgiven every one that has crossed paths with us? We don’t hold any form of resentment or grudges against anyone? Who can truly say they have never been kept stuck in a place of unforgiveness?

Think of the times we are in right now. It is so easy to understand someone’s action as rubbing me against my grain. Parents can hold a sense of unforgiveness against their children. And children can be unforgiving towards their parents for past mistakes. How many missed opportunities have we experienced because of the pandemic? Flights that had to be cancelled. Trips overseas had to be put off. Jobs had to be cut. Some folks had to be laid off. Others lost an entire business, all due to a tiny microscopic virus. Mismanagement could have let opportunities slip through the fingers.

My wife and I wanted to visit our son and his wife in July when they had a son, and grandson for us, on June 13. We wanted to travel to Manitoba to see our grandson. Three months further along in time, we’ve only seen him online on FaceTime. At first, we felt very angry and upset, even rejected, and only now, the bad feelings are wearing off. I would be dishonest if I say I just forgave them right away for refusing a visit from us.

Unforgiveness can take a lot of joy away from us. Sometimes it’s a matter of simple misunderstanding. There is so much more potential for us as human beings if only we could be more willing to let go, to forgive.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” Lewis B. Smedes wrote in 1984. [i]

There’s an extra insight that came to me this week, and maybe I first need to let this insight be tested. This came from a devotion that was about mercy. The devotion described how someone couldn’t really experience that God can be merciful. Only when that person was able to go and practice mercy towards someone in need of help, things changed in their heart. Showing mercy to another person opened up the ability to see that God can actually have mercy towards the writer. It sounds counterintuitive. We should learn about the mercy that scriptures teach us about God’s mercy and Jesus’ mercy towards people. But here it’s about experiencing it by practicing mercy.

Now, my question is, could it be that we can only learn that God forgives us when we are enabled to forgive others? This too might be counterintuitive. It could be that we feel we should first learn about God’s forgiveness and then know that we can be forgiving towards one another.

I get the notion that the kingdom parable that we heard this morning might, in fact, be telling us of how forgiveness works. Yes, indeed, it is the landowner that has a labourer owing him a huge amount of money. When the landowner asks for the money, the labourer deeply asks for it to be forgiven. The lord of this slave has a huge pity on him and forgives him all his debt. This example of huge and complete forgiveness might touch a few readers and listeners. But as it went with this labourer of the landowner, he had something similar happening with one of his fellow slaves, he was owing to him an amount, a much smaller amount than that which had been written off for him. He wanted every single bit of it paid off. He was clearly not applying what he had just seen happening to him.

Perhaps the case is that we all have a hard time hearing an example, and we too make the tremendous mistake of holding something against someone else, almost for a lifetime. No, this parable teaches us. Look at what you’re doing. When someone else owes you a bit you want every single cent of it paid back, referring to a sin that has been done against a fellow believer.

No, no, no! Let go of it, just as the Lord has done for you. Perhaps we too don’t learn the magnitude and ability of the Lord to forgive us our sins, because we are just humans. Perhaps we too need to do that awful thing of being unforgiving by wanting every single bit of the human error, or wrongdoing given back and put right.

Only when we get that opportunity to live out the forgiveness, do we really understand God’s huge forgiveness towards us. My goodness, how much do I mess up, and the Lord turns around and writes it all off!

This realization enables new growth to happen. It is like a pretty flower that can grow in our hands that have been set free. How beautiful it is when people can let go of the past wrong and hurtful, maybe grievous things, that have been done, and then to start thriving together because they live as if the past has never been.

What would happen when all parties in the Middle East can bury their differences and “study war no more?”

What a wonderful world it would be if all could find ways to settle their differences. Unfortunately, these events are rare. This might be what emphasizes that we need a Saviour, Jesus Christ to bring healing and reconciliation.

It might well be that you and I, as faithful believers could start the healing. If one person can start forgiving one other person, things will turn for the better.

I’m reminded of the man that was walking on the beach. There was a whole mass of starfish that were stranded on the beach and none of them could get back in the ocean. They would all lie in the sun and bask till they die from not being in the water. One person started picking them up and throwing them back in the sea. An onlooker came along and said to him “Are you nuts? You’re not going to change this!” Upon this, the man picked up on more, and throwing it in the ocean, said: “It will make a difference for this one.”

The whole world might be bent on not forgiving, but for this one situation, we might make a difference, one unforgiven sin at a time. Let’s start with ourselves. Amen

Music:  Freely, freely

God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name,
I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name,
and in Jesus’ name I come to you
to share his love as he told me to.

He said:
‘Freely, freely you have received;
freely, freely give.
Go in my name and because you believe,
others will know that I live.’

All power is given in Jesus’ name,
in earth and heaven in Jesus’ name,
and in Jesus’ name I come to you
to share his power as he told me to.

songwriter: Carol Owens, 1972 © Lexicon Music Inc.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayer of gratitude

Music:  Now thank we all our God

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices
Who wondrous things has done

in whom God’s world rejoices

words: M. Rinkart; music: J. Cruger
public domain

Reflection on giving

We give because we are the recipients of God’s overflowing love. We give because our givings support our minister and the church staff who enable us to be a community of Faith and Care. We give in order to take care of our building – an inheritance from those who have gone before us and from the Presbyterian Church in Canada – and the means by which we offer care to our community. We give in order to be able to meet together for worship via the internet. We give in order to support the ministry and mission of the Presbyterian Church in Canada across our nation and throughout the world. And in these days of COVID-19 distancing, we do our giving in the various ways described in the Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your generosity.

Prayer

We give thanks to You, dear Lord, because You have blessed us with so much. Yet we know that others have too little. May the offerings we share today become a source of healing and justice in the world, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the One who sends us out in love. Amen.

Blessing

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:13)

Music:  God to enfold you

God to enfold you, Christ to uphold you
Spirit to keep you in heaven’s sight
So may God grace you, heal and embrace you
Lead you through darkness into the light

Words: J. Bell, G. Maule; © WGRG Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE


[i] Smedes, Lewis B. (1984) Forgive and forget: Healing the hurts we don’t deserve. HarperCollins


Minister: The Rev. Dr. Heinrich Grosskopf

Welcoming Elder: Gina Kottke

Worship Arts Coordinator (Guitarist): Gord McCrostie

Pianist: Binu Kapadia

Music soloist: Linda Farrah Basford


Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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