Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service of worship on this fourteenth Sunday after Trinity. Thank you to Christine Ockenden and Julia Freeman who have taken part in this service. The theme of the service today is Forgiveness: our forgiveness of one another and God’s forgiveness of us.
HYMN: And can it be
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
And also with you.
Prayer of Preparation
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Prayers of Penitence
An invitation to confession
My brothers and sisters,
as we prepare to celebrate the presence of Christ
in word and sacrament,
let us call to mind and confess our sins.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Against you, you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
Gloria in Excelsis Enjoy this Gloria from the Restoration Mass
Gloria (Glory to God) from the Mass of Restoration – Josh Blakesley
The Collect for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
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.
New Testament Reading
14 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.
7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. 11 For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.’
12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
HYMN: God forgave my sin in Jesus name
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew
Glory to you O Lord.
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.
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[i] 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 should 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 should 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.’
This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
How to forgive, Matthew 18:21-35
Some of you may be old enough to remember the story of Gordon Wilson, whose daughter Marie died holding his hand in the aftermath of the Enniskillen Bomb on Remembrance Sunday in 1984. On the internet you can still watch the interview he gave the next day. ‘I bear no ill will’ he said, ‘I bear no grudge, I prayed for them last night, I pray that I will have the grace to continue to do so. I have no bitterness’. He went on to campaign for peace for Northern Ireland and that interview became one of the significant markers on the journey towards the Good Friday agreement. Gordon Wilson was a man who found he could afford to forgive….
Usually when such acts of violence or terrorism occur what we hear from the victims is anger and anguish, bitterness, the desire for justice or the need for revenge. Forgiveness comes last, if at all. Which is completely understandable.
We have heard a lot of bitterness this summer, a great cry for justice in the face of murder of George Floyd and others by the police in the United States. It has tapped into generations of bitterness and fear about the way people of colour have been treated in the US and in this country and elsewhere across the world. It has prompted a cry for justice and fundamental change. When that justice comes, when that reparation happens – perhaps forgiveness and reconciliation will follow – but that will take some doing, it won’t be easy.
To forgive is hard. To forgive awful injuries and grievous assaults; to forgive daily irritations, pinpricks, rudeness and unkindness; to forgive personal hurt or to forgive hurt to someone we love. All this is a huge challenge. We want to hurt back, we want someone to blame, we might want revenge. We hold grudges, we lash out, we carry grievance and we feel negated by betrayal.
In today’s gospel story Peter comes to Jesus – and it sounds like he is struggling with the difficulty of living in close fellowship with the disciples and the others who follow Jesus and he asks the question which we all want to ask sometimes, especially in a church. ‘Lord how many times should I forgive someone who sins against me –seven times?’
After all that seems like a generous number – that’s a lot of turning the other cheek, That’s a lot of swallowing your anger; that’s a lot of taking a deep breath and counting to ten; walking away seven times before you totally loose your rag and give vent to your frustration and start telling that person exactly what you think of them..
But Jesus says to Peter – I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven… and suddenly the challenge which is forgiveness grows much larger and the principle which is forgiveness becomes much clearer. There is no limit on forgiveness, no end to how often we are expected to forgive, not 7 times or 77 or 70×7 which is 490 – no number is large enough – forgiveness is for always – and true forgiveness is entire: to let go, to let the grudges go, to let the hurt go; to let the bitterness go, to let the impulse to hurt back go; to let the desire for revenge go. This is forgiveness and it is counter intuitive and very, very hard.
There are two questions about forgiveness – the first one is why?
One answer is that unforgiveness binds. It binds not only the person who has caused the hurt but also the victim. To hold a grudge, to remember grievances, to keep feeling pain or to continue to hate takes energy; bitterness is exhausting, it can cause depression and other psychological problems. The resentment that is fed – is like a poison that will destroy wellbeing and peace of mind. Unforgiveness is like tying a rope between the injured person and whatever or who ever caused the hurt. It binds people together and there is no freedom. Instead there is a web of bad feeling that can sometimes define family relationships for years. At other times our hurts become part of our identity, I am an injured person, this or that was done to me, the hurt or injury defines me – if I let it go who will I be? I am bound.
Whereas forgiveness sets free. Forgiveness is like a waterfall. It cascades over one rock to the next from one person to another. We forgive and set free and then we discover that we are set free in our turn. Forgiveness is grace and hope and freedom.
And we have the power to choose – we can bind or we can free – that is the power of forgiveness and it is a profound power – Jesus tells his disciples – whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Those are his words a little earlier in Chapter 18, – if you read Matthew 18 – the whole chapter is about forgiveness.
Another answer to the question – why forgive? – is that we forgive because we have been forgiven. That is the point of the parable of the unforgiving servant. The king has forgiven the debt of the servant and yet the servant hasn’t got the kindness to forgive a much smaller debt that is owed to him. We have been forgiven our sins by our God – again and again he forgives us – that is his grace towards us – so we in turn, as his people, are to extend that same grace to others.
The words of the Lord’s prayer reflect this cascading relationship of forgiveness. We pray forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Trespass is a good word, it means to enter unlawfully on another’s land, to encroach. This is so often what we do to one another, we walk across one another’s ground, and we have our own way, and don’t consider the boundaries of others, their feelings or needs. It may be that we ourselves need to take offence less easily, to rip down the “trespassers will be prosecuted signs” and be less territorial. But the point is to recognise that God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others are connected- one leads to the other. How can we ask God to forgive us – if we refuse and insist in holding onto another’s hurt toward us.
That leads us to the second question about forgiveness – which is how?
Because it’s easier said than done. In the initial aftermath of a hurt – it can seem impossible –even ridiculous. But it helps to understand that forgiveness is a process, a process of letting go again and again. It might be a slow process; it depends how deep the hurt is. The second thing to understand is that forgiveness is a choice, an act of will rather than an emotional release, a hard headed choice that you come back to when you feel overwhelmed by the old hurt and choose, again and again.
I once had a picture – that the bitterness or resentment we carry within us is like a caged bird. To forgive, to let go, is like setting that caged bird free, once I’ve opened the door and let it fly away, I don’t want to catch it and put it back in its cage once again. Don’t reach out and catch and cage the bitterness once again. Let it go.
The other thing which makes it possible to forgive is to understand the depths of God’s love for you and me. Once when I had something to forgive, I went on a retreat where we followed a pattern of prayer that was monastic- praying several times during the day. And each time we said the Lord’s prayer. It had the effect of a dripping tap. Drip Drip. Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Drip drip. Eventually I heard it, and realised that God was trying to say something to me. He wanted me to forgive.
What made it possible for me to respond to what God was saying to me on that retreat, to go and listen, to break down barriers and to seek reconciliation, was an encounter with God’s love, the depth and breadth of God’s love for me- realised and known. If God loves me as much as this then I can afford to let go of grievances, there’s no need to hold on. It was like a set of scales, God’s love for me and my relationship with God, weighed against leaving those relationships broken. God’s love out weighed the pain. Forgiveness is scary, it does demand self sacrifice, but God’s love for us is greater than the fear.
We are called – as Christians – to forgive. Jesus is the great forgiver. Forgiveness is a thread which runs right though Jesus’ teaching and through Jesus himself – his words from the cross even as he died were ‘Father forgive them – for they do not know what they are doing.’
It is through the cross that we are forgiven, that we are put right with God, and that we can enter into the relationship of a beloved child of a loving father. That is where we matter and where we belong, with Christ in God. It is that knowledge that makes it possible for us in turn to forgive, and to seek reconciliation with our friend, our neighbour and our brother and sister.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
led by Christine Ockenden
Be still & know that I am God. In the quietness of these moments, we thank you Lord for another new day, for the beauty of the countryside all around us & all the evidence of your loving care of each one of us & all that you have made.
We pray for all who serve you in the Diocese of Peterborough, & especially for Olwen at this time, as she prepares to go into hospital. We pray that her operation may be successful & her road to recovery smooth. We give thanks for the skill of all medical & nursing staff in their commitment to serve others.
————-Lord in your mercy———–
Lord, we place into your hands our villages of Ketton & Tinwell, giving thanks for the spirit of community within them & all the ways in which people have come together to support each other during the pandemic. Give us the grace to accept each other as God accepts us, just as we are, with our own individual gifts & contribution to make to community life. May we be ready to reach out to others in love & friendship, not to be judgmental, but to be sensitive & obedient to the prompting of that still small voice in our hearts, & to share in each other’s joys & sorrows. We pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to enable us to fulfil your purpose in this place with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self control.
————-Lord in your mercy———–
Lord, we pray for your world at this difficult time, for all those affected by Covid 19. Give wisdom & sensitivity to our politicians, local governments & all involved in decision making over how best to cope with the pandemic. We pray for our schoolchildren & young people preparing to return to university, with all the restrictions & different ways of learning that have to be adjusted to. We pray for all who are anxious about their jobs, & homes, & how to feed & support their families. Teach us all to put our trust in you.
————-Lord in your mercy———–
Lord, we place into your hands our friends & our families. Company with the lonely & isolated, those in care homes who do not understand the present situation & all who are separated from their loved ones at this time. Be with those who are ill in mind, body or spirit. Lay your healing hand upon them & those who care for them.
In a moment of silence, we remember those who have died. May they rest in peace & rise in glory & may their loved ones know the comfort of your loving arms around them.
So, may your presence go with us into the coming week Lord, whatever it may hold.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
HYMN: There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
May the God of peace make you perfect and holy,
that you may be kept safe and blameless
in spirit, soul and body,
for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Although we’re apart let us hold one another in the peace of Christ in a moment of prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us
Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
HYMN: What a friend we have in Jesus – Celtic Worship
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
Thanks be to God.
BACS Details for St Mary’s, Ketton
Barclays Bank Stamford
The account is in the name of Ketton Parochial Church Council
Sort code 20-81-20
Account number 60547522
BACS Details for All Saints, Tinwell
The account is in the name: Tinwell Parochial Church Council
Sort code: 20-81-20
Account number: 70875244
Trumpet Voluntary in D – John Stanley