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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 14 Proper 19A RCL September 14, 2014

Exodus 14:19-31

Psalm 114

Romans 14:1-12

Matthew 18:21-35

This morning we read the dramatic story of God’s people crossing the Red Sea. This passage tells us that God can lead us into freedom. It also tells us something about traveling light. The Israelites can move over the sea of reeds and not sink in. but the Egyptians, with their chariots and horses, sink up to their axles and get stuck. This makes me think of the story of David and Goliath. God is rooting for the under dog. God loves everyone, and God especially treasures ordinary folks like you and me. God protects us, leads us, and guides us. We are called to pray constantly for God’s direction.

In our epistle, Paul is addressing differences between people in congregations. In the early Church, some folks had come from the Jewish tradition and were still following the dietary laws and celebrating the holy days and festivals. Other people might have been coming from a tradition of worshipping at the temples of the Roman gods and celebrating other festivals. We do not know the exact details, but we know that the new church was drawing people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Every congregation has differences of opinion. Some people like the traditional language; some like the contemporary. Some like incense; some do not. We could go on and on. We also have political differences. We could go on and on about that.

One thing that Paul is saying is that, if we focus on Christ, these differences assume their proper place. Our oneness in Christ is the important thing. We should not judge each other. In fact, Paul says that each of us has to be responsible for our own beliefs and behavior. It’s between each of us and God. I would add that our differences make us strong, and that, as long as we place our Lord at the center of our lives, we will be one as he and God are one.

Our gospel draws all of this together. Peter asks Jesus that very  important question: “If another member of the church sins against me, how often shall I forgive? As many as seven times?” Peter is being generous here. The rabbis said to forgive three times, and Peter is expanding it to seven. But then Jesus says seventy-seven times. Other translations say seventy times seven, or 490 times. And then Jesus tells a parable.

A king wants to settle accounts with his slaves. The first one owes him ten thousand talents. Scholars wonder how a slave could even accumulate such a debt. It is huge. Biblical scholar Thomas Troeger tells us that a talent is about fifteen years worth of wages. Therefore, ten thousand talents is 150,000 years worth of wages.

Troeger says, “If we calculate this in modern terms and allow fifteen dollars per hour after deductions and a forty hour work week, we come up with$600 per week or $31,200 per year, which in 150,000 years would equal forty-six million dollars. Forty-six million dollars! The king forgives him forty-six million dollars!”

The send slave owes a hundred denarii. A denarius is one day’s wages. Troeger says that one hundred denarii would have been a hundred days in back wages.He writes, “ If, once again, we figure fifteen dollars an hour, an eight hour day would be worth $120, or twelve thousand dollars for a hundred days.”

Troeger continues, “The slave who is forgiven a debt of forty-six million dollars refuses to forgive a fellow worker a twelve thousand dollar debt even after the man promises him, ‘I will pay you.’ After walking away scot free from the king, the first slave sends his fellow worker to debtor’s prison.” (Troeger, New Proclamation 1999, p. 218.)

I find Troeger’s calculations helpful because they point out the almost unbelievable amount the first slave has been forgiven—46 million dollars and his inability to extend that forgiveness for a comparatively tiny debt of twelve thousand dollars.

The point is that God is more generous to us than we can even imagine. God showers us with gifts of grace and forgiveness and healing. If we are truly aware of how much God has done for us, we will be generous and forgiving to others.

Of course, the ultimate point that our Lord is making is that we should not be going around carrying calculators. God has done so much for us. God has extended to us such love and forgiveness. We are called to extend that love and forgiveness to others.

This call to forgive seventy-seven times or 490 times, to stop counting the number of times we forgive, is a call to those of us living in Christian community. In Christian communities, we know that we are called to respect every person. We are also called to extend God’s love and forgiveness to those outside our communities.

But, a word of caution. This does not apply to cases of child abuse or domestic abuse. Children and adults who have been abused need to be protected, placed in safe environments, and helped to recover. Perpetrators of abuse must be held accountable and prevented from hurting anyone else. Nor does this reading apply to cases of international abuse or genocide. In those cases, those committing the abuse need to be called to be accountable.

The United States is working with other nations to deal with a terrorist group, ISIS, or the Islamic State, or ISIL, which is terrorizing and killing Muslims, Christians, women, and children. The nations of the world are gathering in order to deal with this very grave situation. Please keep our President and Congress and the leaders of our nation and the world in your prayers.

Meanwhile, even in the face of this horror, we are called to be people of compassion. May we pray again our Collect, Page 233.

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Hoy 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 for ever. Amen.

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