September 2020

Sunday 6th September: 13th after Trinity:  Matthew 18: 15-20

If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, regard him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.”

As humans we often find it so difficult to forgive other people, yet we still expect everyone to accept us as we are - but dwelling on what we see as injustices and unfairness can lead to much sadness, and can damage our health and well-being.  It sounds so easy to say we must ‘forgive’ others, yet it isn’t easy – but this is what we are called to do.  God can help us here as in the end it is he and he only who can effectively deal with perpetrators of unfair treatment.

Are you struggling to get over a problem with someone in your life?  Has it taken over your peace of mind so that you cannot get past feelings of revenge and anger?  Ask God to help you forgive; if possible tell the person concerned that you do so - and then move on with your life in faith. 

 

Sunday 13th September: 14th after Trinity: Matthew 18: 21-35

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! Because of this, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlements, a debtor was brought to him owing ten thousand talents. Since the man was unable to pay, the master ordered that he be sold to pay his debt, along with his wife and children and everything he owned. Then the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Have patience with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ His master had compassion on him, forgave his debt, and released him. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ So his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay his debt. When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and recounted all of this to their master. Then the master summoned him and declared, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?’  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should repay all that he owed. That is how My heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

We cannot expect God to love and accept us as his children with all our many faults and sins unless we are prepared to accept others, and their faults.  God’s love is unconditional – an amazing fact – as he loves us not as he wants and hopes we will be, but as we are now.  We don’t have to earn his love – it is freely given to every one of us. It’s not easy to let go of grudges and criticism of other people and sometimes we find it only too easy to moan and complain about people and events, rather than trying to accept them and move on. 

We all make mistakes – and we need to learn to forgive ourselves as well as other people.  If you are weighed down with memories of things you could have done better, or situations in which you feel you were misunderstood and not treated right,  take time to offer these to God and ask him to help you put these behind you and move forward.

 

Sunday 20th September: 15th after Trinity: Matthew 20; 1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.  ‘You also go into my vineyard,’ he said, ‘and I will pay you whatever is right.’  So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ he asked. ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.  So he told them, ‘You also go into my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last ones hired and moving on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius.  So when the original workers came, they assumed they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarius. On receiving their pay, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Did you not agree with me on one denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you.  Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

In these days of Trade Unions, workers’ rights, and the concern about maintaining fairness in the workplace, this parable from Jesus makes challenging reading.  Why indeed, we may ask, should those who have only worked for one hour get the same pay as those who have worked all day?   Is it fair that God accepts everyone who accepts his love, even though some may have done so early in their lives and have continued in the church throughout the years, whereas others have perhaps only just realised that God’s love is available to all and have responded late in life?  God says it is fair – he is the one who gives us all we have, and so he is the one to say that everyone is to be considered equal.

Can we look beyond what we have done – and be joyously grateful when we see others coming into God’s love?  Can we be happy for them, and continue to pray for all those who are missing out on the greatest gift they can ever receive, being thankful that we have had such opportunities and help throughout our lives?

 

Sunday 27th September:  16th after Trinity: Matthew 21; 23-32

When Jesus returned to the temple courts and began to teach, the chief priests and elders of the people came up to Him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave You this authority?”  Jesus replied “what do you think?” There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first one and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  ‘I will not,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the second son and told him the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he said. But he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  For John came to you in a righteous way and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Our timings and way of looking at things are totally different to that of God’s;  we cannot understand in this present world how these things work, but we do know that in all things God has our own personal good in his plan for each one of us.  It is not for us to judge other people, thinking this one or that is not ‘worthy’ to be called a follower of Christ as we can never know the fuller picture.  So easy to condemn before we are humbled by later knowledge and realise that we have made a mistake.  We need to offer God’s love to everyone we meet, wherever and in every situation in which we find ourselves.

Do you find it difficult to be welcoming to certain people?  Are there some who annoy you or with whom you do not agree?  Hold them before God in prayer and ask his blessing on you both – amazing things can happen when this is done.

 




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