Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.


Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

~Corrie Ten Boom


Being a disciple requires an expansive perspective on forgiveness. Today our perspective is broadened by the good news that God’s forgiveness is not based on our idea of fairness, but rather on abundant, unimaginable grace. God “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities”. The king forgives our entire debt, no matter how enormous it is.  We also are challenged to stretch our perspective and forgive each other. With Peter, we learn to stop keeping score.

What if seventy-seven isn’t the number of different sins that Jesus intends for us to forgive? What if, instead, it’s the number of tries it takes to be able to forgive just one sin? Forgiveness isn’t as simple as just saying “I forgive you”—it’s difficult work, and it takes practice. Like the king in the story, sometimes we try to forgive, but we keep the offense in the back of our minds, ready to reinstate it if the opportunity arises. The story illustrates the awful consequences of this failure to truly forgive. So we keep practicing, even though we know that only God can forgive completely.


We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Faithful God, help us to be gentle with one another in times of trouble. Help us always and unceasingly to put our trust in you. Help us to be not afraid. Help us to walk out from behind our closed doors to serve others as disciples of Christ in the presence and power of your Holy Spirit. Give us confidence and hearts so full of love for justice that we will not cease to work for the good of others, and for healing and for reconciliation between all peoples. In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Confession and Forgiveness

Blessed be God, the one who forms us, Jesus who bears the cross, the Spirit who makes our joy complete.


Let us bow before God in humility, confessing our sin.

Steadfast and faithful God, you have revealed the ways of justice, yet we fail to follow you.  We are overwhelmed by the world’s violence and suffering.  We are afraid to risk what we have for the sake of others.  For the harm we have caused, known and unknown, forgive us.  For the unjust demands we place on others and your creation, forgive us.  For the ways we turn away from you and our neighbor, forgive us.  Lead us back to you and set us on the right path; in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.

Beloved in Christ, God’s justice stretches beyond all understanding.  God’s compassion is beyond compare. In Jesus, God is always making a new way for us.  In Christ, you are already and always forgiven.


CHILDREN’S SONG:  WOV  765  Jesu, Jesu


O Lord God, merciful judge, you are the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness. Replace our hearts of stone with hearts that love and adore you, that we may delight in doing your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

MINUTE FOR MISSION:  Breaking Down Barriers to Education

Where would you be if you had no education? School fees, violence, child labour, and discrimination mean that too many children can’t go to or stay in school in parts of the world.

Every child has the right to learn.

Mission and Service partner Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR) brings together child rights organizations to share information about child protection and safeguarding and helps to support children in schools.

Thanks to your support, KAACR has established over 300 child rights clubs in schools. One of these clubs helped Meshack through primary school. A bursary program has helped him pay high school fees, and the child rights club at his school is teaching him how to be a positive role model.

“To start school was a problem. KAACR has helped me. They encouraged me a lot. They enabled me to start my primary school. Now I’m in high school,” Meshack says. “The club is helping us a lot, too. They give us role models to teach us what is bad and help us be confident in whatever we are doing. I’m very happy.”

Thank you for helping to break down barriers so every child can go to school, regardless of who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. Your generous support through Mission and Service means that children around the world have the opportunity to go to school thanks to partnerships with organizations like KAACR.


Take a piece of paper and scribble on it in pencil.  Now, take an eraser and erase your scribble.  Even if you erase well, you can still see where you scribbled.  Your scribbling, though erased, has left a mark.

Take a white board.  Scribble on it with a proper whiteout marker.  Now, erase your scribble with a proper whiteboard eraser.  Can you see where you scribbled?  Impressive that you can’t see any evidence of having scribbled!  Well, guess what, God’s forgiveness is like the whiteboard!  When we ask for forgiveness, God wipes away those hurtful things we have done and said.  True, we may still go through the consequences of our choices, yet God does not hold that against us.

We are told by God that we are to forgive others as God forgives us.  That can be very hard sometimes, especially if what someone did or said to us was really hurtful.  It can take time to forgive someone that has hurt us so badly, AND, it can be done.

Perhaps it would help if we treated everyone with kindness and love.  When you are feeling loved and cared for, you don’t feel the need to say or do hurtful things.  It is something to think about.

Jesus, you forgive us, and we feel so much better and well-loved when you do.  Help us to forgive each other, so that our lives may be filled with joy.  Amen.


Gracious God, we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. Make us hungry for this heavenly food, that it may nourish us today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.


First Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

After Jacob’s death the brothers of Joseph begged for forgiveness for the crime they had done against him. You intended to do me harm, Joseph said, but God used this as an opportunity to do good and save many lives.

15Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Psalm 103:1-13

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all God’s benefits—
3who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases;
4who redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy; 
5who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.
6O Lord, you provide vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
7You made known your ways to Moses and your works to the children of Israel.
8Lord, you are full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love; 
9you will not always accuse us, nor will you keep your anger forever.
10You have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor repaid us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is your steadfast love for those who fear you.
12As far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed our transgressions from us.
13As a father has compassion for his children, so you have compassion for those who fear you, O Lord.

Second Reading: Romans 14:1-12

This Christian community has significant struggles with diversity. Here Paul helps us understand that despite different practices in worship and personal piety, we do not judge one another. All Christians belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who died for all of us and will judge each of us.

1Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those 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. 4Who 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.

5Some 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. 6Those 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.

7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If 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. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10Why 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 judgment seat of God. 11For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

12So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

When Peter asks about the limits of forgiveness, Jesus responds with a parable that suggests human forgiveness should mirror the unlimited mercy of God.

21Peter came and said to , “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus 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. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, 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. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But 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.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

HYMN:  VU 684  Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace


Genesis 50:15-21:  Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?”  So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’  Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.”  Joseph wept when they spoke to him.  Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.”  But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid!  Am I in the place of God?  Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as God is doing today.  So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.”  In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

It all began with the question, “If another member sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  Peter obviously expected Jesus to say, “Splendid, Peter!  You could not possibly act more nobly than that.”  After all, Peter had some kind of right to feel that he was doing well, for there was the Rabbinic saying, “If a neighbour transgresses once, forgive them; if a second time, forgive them; if a third time, forgive them; if a fourth time, do not forgive them.”  What Peter had done was to take the Rabbinic limit of forgiveness, multiply it by two, add one, and then sit back and say, “Am I not a wonderful person to be willing to forgive like that?”  Jesus put the answer in the form of this parable.  The point of the parable is this:  Those whom God has forgiven are obligated to forgive others.

The Christian understanding of forgiveness involves two parts, confession and absolution.  Forgiveness comes from the repentant heart (emphasis on repentant) the sharing of what has caused the individual to be repentant, and the proclamation of the forgiveness of the individual’s sin through Christ.  You will notice, however, that this parable seems to lack the repentance part of forgiveness.  Notice too, that the king forgives the debt of the one who owes an unpayable amount.  It is as if it never existed.

Now my question is this:  Was the first slave truly repentant, or was the slave, like Joseph’s brothers, lying to save himself?  Yes, I realize this is a parable and not a true story.  However, Jesus is a master storyteller and he always has a surprise twist up his sleeve, so, humor me!  If the latter is true, then how can the slave be forgiven?  And if the slave and Joseph’s brothers could be forgiven, then is repentance necessary?  The answer, of course, is yes.  Yes, the slave was probably more concerned about losing his life and property and it was this fear, more than repentance, which caused him to promise to pay back an impossible debt.  Yes, even though this slave was not, from outward appearances, repentant, this individual could be forgiven.  And yes, repentance is necessary — it is necessary for reconciliation, which is the fullest expression of forgiveness.

Here I stress the point of the parable.  Those whom God has forgiven are obligated to forgive others.  Those for whom God has forgiven much, such as overwhelming debts, are to be as generous in the forgiving of the debts of others.  To put limits on God’s forgiveness is to place limits on the forgiveness we receive from God.

Linda Maloney, in her commentary on the Genesis text, sums up the situation beautifully.  She writes:

“Joseph’s brothers are so treacherous and mean-spirited 7, they can never fully believe that Joseph is a better person than themselves.  They cannot trust anyone, because they know themselves to be untrustworthy.  Similarly, the slave in the Gospel illustrates by his behavior toward his fellow servant that he is a treacherous man.  We learn from his actions that he has not really experienced his master’s forgiveness.  He does not believe he has been forgiven, since his own actions illustrate that, in his heart, he does not acknowledge the possibility of forgiveness.  The vicious circle of pitiless violence perpetrated by people who have never experienced pity or compassion is an all-too-familiar phenomenon in our own day.  Jesus’ call is to break the chain of violence by relentless forgiveness.”

This is the crucial point.  You no doubt have heard people say, “I know God has forgiven me, but I can’t seem to forgive myself.”  Well, we are not in the self-forgiving business.  Right here is where I would say to such an individual, “Is it that you can’t forgive yourself, or is it that you have difficulty accepting the fact that God has forgiven you?”  We cannot forgive ourselves.  We can forgive others who have broken their relationship with us, but as for ourselves, it is God, through the mercy of Christ, who forgives us.  Our struggle is believing that God can forgive what to us is a debt that cannot be repaid.

I remember watching a documentary on the Klu Klux Klan.  In this film it showed footage of when two Klan members chased down a young black man like an animal, tortured him, killed him, mutilated his body, and hung it from the tree in front of the house where he and his mother lived.  The mother of this man was remarkable.  In her heart she was able to forgive the two young men who had killed her son.  She most certainly would never forget what they did to her child, but she truly was able to forgive them.  Not only that, but she continued to pray that the hearts of the two men who had killed her son would be turned around.  And they were.  The murderers later visited this woman, confessed their guilt and shame, and asked her forgiveness.  She told them she already had forgiven them, yet she told them anyway that they were forgiven, and then embraced them.  Reconciliation occurred.  The fullest fruit of forgiveness blossomed.  You see, it is possible to forgive an unrepentant sinner, yet it is very difficult to maintain a relationship with someone who is unrepentant.  Therefore, the Church stresses repentance in order that relationships, not only amongst church members, but between the members and God, are kept whole so that the grace and forgiveness of God may flow freely.

“If you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart,” says Jesus, “God will be hard-pressed to forgive you.”  Have you looked at your relationships lately?  Have you looked in your heart lately?  Have you seen relationships that need to have the Gospel and its forgiving word proclaimed?  Have you been the messenger?  Tough words to swallow.  But for God, relationships are sacred.  Love is sacred.  And forgiveness, well, it is nothing short of amazing.  Amen.

Hymn Of The Month:  VU 578  A Fire Is Meant For Burning


Remembering the caring and generous works of God, we pray for the church, creation, and the needs of our neighbors.

We pray for the church. Bless the missions and ministries of diverse congregations, that they uplift the good news of salvation in ways that can be understood. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for creation. Send rain to lands experiencing drought and healing to rivers clogged with pollution. Enrich the soil for trees and plants. Protect the crops needed to feed those who hunger. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for all who govern. Encourage those in positions of power to lead with empathy, practice forgiveness, and care for those who struggle. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for our neighbors who face illness of any kind. For those strained financially; for all living with chronic pain, mental illness, the disease of addiction, or otherwise afraid or in harm’s way. Protect all who cry out for mercy. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for this congregation. Open our hearts to practice intentional invitation. Help us to forgive each other, practice patience, and choose welcome over judgment. Move us to care for those in our community seeking refuge and safety. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We give thanks for the saints who died in faith. Show us how to live faithfully, creatively, and lovingly in your church and world. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Remember us according to your steadfast love as we offer these and the prayers of our hearts, trusting in your compassion made known through Jesus Christ.



SENDING SONG:  VU 288 Great Is Thy Faithfulness


The God of glory, Jesus Christ, name above all names, and the Spirit who lives in you, bless you now and forever.  Amen.



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