The Celebration of the Gospel

 September 17, 2017 —15th Sunday after Pentecost

 You must forgive seven times seventy times.
 — Matthew 18.22

________We Gather as the Body of Christ______

PRELUDE  Holy, Holy, Holy   John B. Dykes, arr: Don Wyrtzen

[As we listen to the music we quiet our minds and bodies,
listen for our hearts’ deepest desires,
and become present to the Holy One who is lovingly present for us.

Leader:  God of grace, we are a broken people, but you love us.
All: We will bear your mercy. Alleluia!
Christ our redeemer, you forgive us and make us new.
We will bear your mercy.  Alleluia!
Holy Spirit, you fill us with love even for those who hurt us.
We will bear your mercy.  Alleluia!
God of mercy, we worship you. We serve you.  Alleluia!

* SONG   Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive   Blue hymnal # 390


___________ We Attend to the Word___________

Pastor:   The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God have mercy.
God of love, we bring to mind those ways we have not followed your will,
and we ask your forgiveness.
God, have mercy.
   …   Silent prayer   …

God of love, we bring to mind those whom we ourselves need to forgive.
We confess our bitterness and ask your forgiveness,
and we ask you to help us forgive those whom we have not yet forgiven.
God have mercy.
…   Silent prayer   …


RESPONSE   Come and Fill Our Hearts   Black hymnal  #2157

God of mercy, we are held in slavery to our resentments and judgments.  We are burdened by our wounds and fears. Speak to us, call us to you, and lead us through the sea of our hurts to freedom in you.  God of love, we are hungry for your Word.  We open our hearts to hear.  In your mercy, speak to us.  Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT    from Exodus 14.19-31
[Israel crosses the Red Sea and escapes from Egypt.  On the far shore, Moses and the prophet Miriam lead the people in singing: “Sing to the Lord,  for God has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider God has thrown into the sea”]

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Yahweh drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground.  The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.

At the morning watch Yahweh in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. Their chariot wheels were clogged so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for God is fighting for them against Egypt.”  At dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, Yahweh tossed the Egyptians into the sea.

Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that God did against the Egyptians. So the people were in awe of Yahweh and believed in Yahweh and in Moses, the trusted servant of God.


CANTICLE    from Exodus 15.1-21
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to God:
“I will sing to God, who has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider God has thrown into the sea.

God is my strength and my song,
and has become my salvation;
this is my God, whom I will praise,
I will exalt my ancestor’s God,
who is a mighty warrior;
whose name is I AM.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army God cast into the sea;
his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O God, glorious in power—
your right hand, O God, shatters the enemy.
Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in splendor, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.
In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed;
you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
You bring them in and plant them on your own  mountain,
the place, Holy One, you made your abode,
the sanctuary, O God, that your hands have established.
Yahweh will reign forever and ever.
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand;
and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing.
And Miriam sang to them:
 “Sing to Yahweh, who has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider God has thrown into the sea.”

NEW TESTAMENT    from Romans 14.1-19
[Paul says when we judge one another we act as if they are accountable to us.  They are not. It is we who are accountable to God.  Since “God has welcomed them,” so must we. We are not even our own masters, let alone theirs. “Whether we live or we die, we belong to Christ Jesus.”]

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while others eat only certain foods. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is to their own employer that each worker is accountable. And God’s workers will succeed, , for God is able to make them succeed.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to Christ Jesus, and if we die, we die to Christ Jesus; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we belong to Christ.  That’s why Christ died and came to life again: to reign supreme over both the living and the dead. Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?  Why do you look down on your siblings?  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.    ….   So stop passing judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. … So let us conduct ourselves in ways that lead to peace and mutual growth.

GOSPEL    Matthew 18.21-35

[Jesus teaches that our need to forgive never ends: forgive a person not once, not seven, but seven times 70 times.  He tells a story about how forgiving and being forgiven are one and the same—and how greatly we are forgiven.]

Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if someone in the community sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven times.

“For this reason the realm of heaven is like this.  A ruler wished to settle accounts with the royal officials. When the audit began, a steward who owed a hundred million dollars was brought forward; and, as the debtor could not pay, the ruler ordered the steward, with family and possessions, to be sold, and payment to be made. So the steward begged the ruler, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity, the ruler released the steward and forgave the debt.

“But that same steward, going out, came upon a colleague who owed the steward twenty bucks. Seizing the other by the throat, the steward said, “Pay what you owe.’ Then the other knelt down and pleaded, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But the steward refused, and went and had the other servant thrown into prison until the debt was paid. When the other officials saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to the ruler all that had taken place. Then the ruler summoned the steward and said, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your companion, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger the ruler  handed the steward over to be tortured until the entire debt was paid.

“So it is with God, if you do not forgive your siblings from your heart.”


SONG     Set Me Free    Steve G-H

  1. Forgive me, God of mercy, set me free. (Repeat)
    Refrain:  From slavery to the past, through the deep Red Sea,
    lead me God of love.  Set me free.
    2. From anger and resentment…
    3. From blaming and from judgment…
    4. To be completely loving…

[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and forever.  Amen.

SONG    God, How Can We Forgive   Black hymnal # 2169

 _______We Are Sent in Ministry to the World____

OFFERING OUR GIFTS   (Including special Peace with Justice Offering)
Come, Share The Lord   Bryan Leech, arr: Mark Hayes

*  OFFERING SONG    Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow  Blue hymnal  #94
Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts.  Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will.  Send us as vessels of your grace to all who are hurting, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ as the power of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.


*  SONG     More Like You   Black hymnal #2167

RESPONSE    We stand and sing to our neighbors:
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you my friends.
Go and share the love of God, love that never ends.

POSTLUDE     Bourée    G. F. Handel, arr: E. Power Biggs

[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]