Sunday, 25th April 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

forgive our foolish ways;

reclothe us in our rightful mind,

in purer lives thy service find,

in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard

beside the Syrian sea

the gracious calling of the Lord,

let us, like them, without a word

rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,

O calm of hills above,

where Jesus knelt to share with thee

the silence of eternity,

interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,

till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire

thy coolness and thy balm;

let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm!

PRAYER

READING Matthew 18: 21-35

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’

22 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 ‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 ‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

28 ‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.

29 ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.”

30 ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

SERMON THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT

I wonder what sparked off this story of Jesus’ – Don’t you ? I suspect it was something like this. Peter was walking along the road, and some little horror tripped him up as he went by. This wasn’t the first time the youngster had toppled Peter to the ground and he was raging, but he managed to hold his temper and he wisely brought his problem to Jesus. That wouldn’t have been easy for this big firy fisherman.

Now, the teachers in the Church had told Peter that he should forgive maybe 3 or 4 times – so Peter asks Jesus’ advice – again – a very good thing to do. SHOULD I FORGIVE 7 TIMES, JESUS?

Peter was expecting a medal for his large heart, but Jesus shocked him No Peter – you should forgive 77 times – in fact you should go on forgiving all the time – just as God is forgiving you all the time.

Then, Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant – having been let off a debt of several MILLION pounds – the fellow goes straight out and puts a fellow servant in prison who owed him a few pounds! The master who had let him off the massive debt was far from pleased and punished the man very severely.

And the story is for us – it is a story about YOU and a story about ME.

How good are you at holding a grudge?

How easily do you forgive someone who has wronged you?

Are you sitting at home this evening knowing that there is someone (even a Church person) to whom you will not speak?

I have to ask you this : DO YOU have any idea how God is going to treat YOU if you FAIL to forgive someone? Our final verse – 35 – tells us that God’s punishment will be severe indeed!

We pray: forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12) – but do we MEAN that? Jesus went on in the next section of Matthew’s Gospel to say (vv 14,15) for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Friends that is a very earnest warning from the Saviour of the world – if that is a word for YOU, then hear His warning and repent NOW, and finding forgiveness of your own sins, God will help you to forgive anyone for anything! God says to you (Isaiah 55:7) let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts, let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him, and to our god for he will freely pardon.

When He takes away our sins, He does it thoroughly (Micah 7:19) you will again have compassion on us; you will tread our underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Can you imagine taking all the bad things that have been said and done to you and throwing them into the depths of the sea? Well YOU CAN – with some help from Almighty God!

Jesus warned in Mark 11:25 that if you come to Church and find that you hold anything against anyone: forgive him so that your father in heaven may forgive you.

Not only Jesus, but Paul exhorts us in a similar way (Eph 4:32) be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

(or Col 3:13) bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you!

Just as he who has been forgiven much, loves much – so any of us who are Christians have been forgiven EVERYTHING and so we should be able to forgive ANYTHING of ANYONE! forgiveness is a mark of the Christian.

You think of how often God forgave His wayward people (Ps 78:38 says) time after time He restrained His anger. And we are told to be imitators of God.

I think this is a very serious word. Is it a word to you? Is there anyone listening who harbours all sorts of ill feeling towards others? If you cannot find it in your heart to forgive some ancient injury, then I put it to you that the reason for that is that you know nothing of God’s forgiveness of your own sins – in which case you are without God and without hope in the world and you must RUN TO CHRIST for mercy.

Run to Him and see how HE will open up your heart to really love and really forgive others – you will be amazed at how He will transform the way you think and view other people. Why don’t you let Him open up YOUR heart today? When you find forgiveness, your heart will want nothing more than to forgive others and keep on forgiving them in love! That is what we need – may God pour out His forgiveness on us!

PRAYER

Hymn Make me a channel of Your peace

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring your love.

Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord

And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope

Where there is darkness, only light

And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

In giving to all men that we receive

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

In giving to all men that we receive

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Benediction

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