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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Pentecost 13 Proper 19

Pentecost 13 Proper 19A RCL

 Exodus 14: 19-31
Psalm 114
Romans 14: 1-12
Matthew 18: 21-35

 In our first lesson this morning. The Israelites have made their way to the Red Sea. The angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud which have been leading the people now shift to the rear to protect them from the Egyptian army, which is in hot pursuit.

God causes an East wind to blow, and Moses stretches out his hand, and the waters part.  The Israelites pass through, but the Egyptians and their chariots sink.

 Scholars tell us that the part of the Red Sea where the Israelites crossed could also be called the Reed Sea. It was a marshy area, the water was shallow there, and, when the wind blew, it could move the water in such a way that, if you traveled lightly, you could pass through. Perhaps this is a more scientific account of what might have happened.

 In any case, the people were aware of God’s protection and assistance as they escaped from the Egyptian army. This is a story of God’s faithfulness and of the people’s faith.

In our passage from Romans, Paul is continuing his thoughts on how a Christian community should conduct itself. The congregation in Rome was diverse. People were coming into the community with all kinds of religious backgrounds. This was reflected in their dietary practices and in what festivals they observed, among other things. Paul encourages the community to welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. He is calling us not to worry about the minor details, but to resolve that, whatever we do, we do it to honor the Lord.

 “We do not live to ourselves,” Paul says, “And we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and, if we die, we die to the Lord, so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

 In any community, there are differences of opinion. But these are minor if we focus on honoring our Lord in everything that we do.

 Our gospel continues the discussion of forgiveness in the community of faith. Peter asks, “Lord, if another member of the Church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” The rabbinic rule was to forgive three times, so Peter is being very generous when he says seven times.  But Jesus makes a quantum leap. “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” My interpretation of this is to say that Jesus is telling us to stop counting. Don’t keep track of how many times people may commit offenses against us.

 Then Jesus tells the parable. A king wants to settle accounts with his slaves. The first slave owes ten thousands talents. Now, this is a huge amount put in to the story to make a point. Scholars tell us that no slave could possibly owe this much. Ten thousand talents would equal 200,000 years’ wages.  Scholars say that perhaps this man was a prince, a man of great wealth. The slave falls on his knees and asks the king to forgive the debt. Out of pity for the slave, the king does forgive the debt. Here is a big key point: the Greek word translated as “pity” is the same word used when the Good Samaritan has pity on the man who has fallen among the thieves. It is the same word used when the father has pity on his prodigal son. It is also the same word used to describe Jesus’ compassion on the crowds who constantly follow him begging for help and healing.

 Now comes another point. The slave, forgiven this huge debt, leaves the king’s presence and sees one of his fellow slaves who owes him one hundreds denarii, or about four months’ wages. Now this is a considerable amount, but nothing like what he has just been forgiven. But he grabs the poor man by the throat and demands payment., And when his fellow slave falls to his knees and begs, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you,” the forgiven slave refuses and has the man thrown in jail.

 Jesus is calling us to an attitude of compassion, a mind-set and a heart-set of forgiveness. Yes, there is such a thing as accountability, and that is very important. Yes, there is such a thing as justice, and that is important. But we are like that forgiven slave. We are like the people Israel. God has protected us. God has cherished us, guided us, healed us, forgiven us. God has reached out to us in love. We must always keep that in mind. Having received this love from God, we are called to extend that to others. I know we all try to do this, with God’s grace. I do realize that I am preaching to the choir.  But we have this gospel today to remind us not to be like that slave. There is so much power in God’s love and forgiveness. And that is what we are called to mirror. Our love and forgiveness cannot be on the same level as God’s love and forgiveness, but we can aim in the right direction.

 Today we are still dealing with the aftermath of Irene, and we are gathering supplies and money to send to help our brothers and sisters. We will also go to lend a hand wherever we can. We are also observing the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. None of us will ever forget that day.

 We reach out with tangible help and with prayers for our neighbors who have been affected by Irene. And we continue to reach out to all those affected by 9/11. On that awful day, not just Americans, but people from all over the world died here on our soil. It was an international mass murder. I am not going to try to comment on the events of that day or to analyze those events. I am going to need much more prayer and a longer perspective before I can even begin to put anything into words and thoughts. My only suggestion is that, as we deal with the aftermath of 9/11, we continue always to pray and seek God’s guidance and help.

 Our Collect for today is a good place to begin: “O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

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