Worship at Home for Sunday, September 13, 2020

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

 

Video Opening

“I Will Sing of Your Love, Love, Love” by Christopher Grundy.

© 2018 Christopher Grundy, all publishing rights reserved. Permission given congregations to play recording during worship or education programs, and to stream online.

Moment of Silence

Opening Prayer

God of love for all, we come to you today in worship and prayer. You are our strength and redeemer. When all seems lost you save us. You forgive us for impossible debts to you. You ask us to treat others in our faith communities with the same grace that you extend to us. May we seek to live in your love and share it always. Amen.

Children's Message Video

Scripture Readings

Romans 14:1-12

1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling 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 judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgment 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 honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor 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 judgment 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.

 

Matthew 18:21-35

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. 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."

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sermon: Love of the Least of These

How do we as a church family show our love of children or as I am phrasing it for this message the “least of these”? Who are the least of these among us? One could say that would be the opposite of the greatest among us. Remember in the beginning of Matthew chapter 18, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus picked up a small child and said this child is the greatest. Jesus reminded them that until they could become like the “least of these” then they never become great in the eyes of God. This sort of turns our ideas upside down doesn’t it?

One could say that Matthew chapter 18 is about getting along together as a church community. So does Romans 14. Whole sermon series could be based on either of these texts. Trying to sum them up in a short meditation for the week has been a challenge. I may need to come back and write a sermon series.

One of the things that can hinder us in our relationships can be the little hurts and resentments that build up over time. I was thinking about a time when I was 12 and a bit resentful. You see my parents had promised to buy me a 10-speed bicycle. I really wanted this bicycle to ride around the neighborhood and to accompany my dad when he road his bicycle out of the neighborhood. I was willing to do all sorts of extra chores to earn this bicycle. I would do the dishes after supper. My sister was supposed to help me, but she would often run off to play with her friends leaving me to clean the kitchen alone. My father would occasionally come in and help me do my chore. When I expressed resentment toward my sister, he would remind me that I was getting a 10-speed bicycle.

Then the great day came, we went to JC Penney’s to pick up my bicycle which happened to be on sale that day. My whole family was there, and I was so happy. My sister looked enviously at the bicycle and said that she wanted one too. I thought that my parents would say, “Stephanie earned the bicycle, you will need to earn yours too.” They did not! Instead they chose to buy her one too, since the bicycle was on sale. Do you understand how hurt and angry I felt?

Matthew 18:21-35 deals with forgiveness. “How many times do we need to forgive another member of the church who sins against me?” is the question proposed by Peter. It almost sounds like he is writing a church document about how-to live-in community. Peter suggests seven times before the offender is booted out of the community. Jesus counters with 77 times the amount. In other words, keep on forgiving. Don’t give up.

Jesus is not talking cheap grace here. After all Jesus was telling us in 18:6 that it would be better to put a millstone around your neck and drown, if you have caused a little one to have stumbled. Forgiveness is not an excuse for bullying and abusive behavior. Rather Jesus is reminding Peter that we are all standing in the need of the grace of God.

To help Peter and the other disciples understand what he means he tells another parable. This time of a servant who was forgiven an impossible debt by his king. This debt was a ridiculous amount that no one in their right mind would ever have taken on, billions and billions of dollars. Like maybe Jeff Bezos the owner of Amazon could have paid it off eventually, but ordinary people like you and me, no way! After much pleading and begging the king forgives the servant.

Now you think that the servant would be happy and kind after having been released from so great a debt. Wrong! This man happens to encounter someone who owes him a much smaller and reasonable sum, maybe a car loan in scope. Instead of forgiving this person’s much smaller debt, the servant has the man imprisoned. Did this servant learn nothing from his King?

Naturally other members of the community were upset with the servant’s behavior and word got back to the King. The King had offered the servant grace, but the servant had not extended grace to another. Not a good move! We all have received grace and forgiveness when we did not deserve it. Should we not extend that grace to others?

Back to the bicycle story, I was resentful and angry for a while. My father noticed this. He told me that he appreciated that I was conscientious about doing chores while my sister often ran off to play. He then reminded me that there were things that I had received in the past that she had not, so shouldn’t I just let it go about the bicycle. So eventually, I did.

Prayer:
God who loves us and calls us to love children and the least of these. Help us to show our love to them. God who has shown to us great forgiveness and grace. Help us to forgive one another. Heal us from the resentments and difference that would keep us apart. May love rule in our hearts and minds always.

Let us take a moment to lift ourselves and others in prayer. We pray for those on our prayer list. Let us read through the names on our prayer list and imagine that God is surrounding them and us with healing love and strength.

Silent Prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer

Prayer list:

Simon, Howard, Julia, Ahna, Mike, Josh, Priscilla, Duane, Janet, Grandpa David, Dorothy, Jacob, Jenny, Ann, Dale, Gayle, Don, Cheryl, Dustin, Pat, Student with eating disorder, Tate, Patricia, Roland, Aryanna, Amanda, Virginia, Matthew, Tom, Naomi, Vic, Jennelle, Charlie, James, Rick, Christy, Reagan, Kim, Lee, Kevin, Gaylynn, Liz’s sister in law, Naomi, Nathan, Jason, Cheryl, Daniel, Betty, Dax, Carter, Laurie’s mom, Jock, Nancy, Pat, Malachi and Karen, Carolyn, Ellen, Shirley, Mary, Karen, Paul, Hal, Richard, Crystal, Edie, Paula, Jim, Truett, Brett and Danielle, Judy, Laura F, Shirley, Butch, Joyce., Macie, Michel, Dorothy L, family of child who donated a heart to Truett, Corey, Lauren, Anonymous Cancer Patient, Bernice, Mike, Gary S., Linda, Pat, Gary, Dave, Laurie Lee, Gail, Brenda, Breana, Dean, Corey, Jeff, Nancy, Terry, Bev, Edgar, Angie, Mark, Mystick who has been missing as requested by Aunt Laura

Special prayers:

  • Gasconade R-2 Students, Teachers and Staff
  • Those affected by Covid-19.
  • Those affected by Hurricane Laura and the wildfires out west.
  • First responders in our community.

Goodwill/Offering

During this month of our Three Great Loves stewardship campaign, please take time to consider how you through St. Peter’s UCC can share God’s Love of Children.

  • Give thanks for all God’s blessings during foundational times in our lives.
  • Share what you have whatever it is, it is enough.
  • Donate via PayPal on our website or write a check.

Prayer of Dedication for Love of Children

By the Rev. Susan A. Blain

Minister for Worship and Gospel Arts, JLCM

Love of Children

Wise and Playful Spirit,

You who dwell among us in wonder and imagination,

And delight in possibilities,

You who call children into the center of your reign,

and challenge adults to live in simplicity and justice,

We offer these gifts to you for the Love of Children.

Take and multiply them,

Show us how to use them to protect, nurture and teach

And to create a world where all children may play in safety,

and grow to become witnesses to your abundant love.

We pray in the name of Jesus, your beloved Child,

who called children close

to bless them. Amen.

Closing Video

Benediction

May the love of God surround you today and every day. Amen.

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