Welcome to Fossoway Church


Sunday Reflection and Prayer 13th September



Bible Reading


Psalm 119:33-40,

Matthew 18:21-35


Hymn: 187 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy 






In our gospel reading today Peter asks a sincere question of Jesus, it was that question about forgiveness…

“Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”

Peter would have known that the contemporary orthodox answer would have been three times and so he is going even further and giving a number that represents a perfect solution for those times.

he wants a concrete answer, a formula an equation.

Jesus replies, “No not 7 times but seventy times seven times”.

Now for all you maths people Jesus is not meaning that you should forgive 490 times rather he is taking that perfect number 7 of ancient times and multiplying it by 10 times 7 too!

Really Jesus answer is that there are no limits to forgiveness and he gives an example in his story about a man who owed his king 10,000 talents – now a talent is a weight equal to about 30 kilograms – 10,000 talents is over 300 tonnes. In present day times with gold at about £53.5 million per tonne – the total sum would have been equivalent to £16 billion! 


The man pleaded for the king to have patience and he would repay him. The king had pity on the man and forgave him his total debt. 


This man then goes out walking and meets a fellow servant who owes him a small sum of money – 100 denarii - just a few pounds

- and he grabs the man and demands payment.

“ Have patience with me and I will repay you” says this fellow servant but the first man has him thrown into prison until the debt would be repaid.


It isn’t the money or the debt that is the focus here rather it is how

the key figures in the story behaved. The man who had his debt removed felt no need to act differently in the light of having received such generous mercy and he failed to pass that mercy along to his fellow servant even though it was such a trivial amount. The money was more important to the first man than the other person or indeed the mercy he had received.  

When the king heard how he had behaved he told the man that he should have also had mercy on his fellow servant.


Jesus concludes his story by saying that our Heavenly Father who forgives us also expects us to forgive our brothers and sisters. Just like the man – the debt we owe to God is uncountable and yet, we have received forgiveness. – and so we too should be merciful with others.


This is something that we say week on week when we say the Lords Prayer:

 And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.


What’s also interesting in Jesus story is that the first man is then punished because he did not pass on the act of mercy.


Once a Sunday School teacher had just finished teaching the children  in her class and wanting to make sure that she had made her point. She said, "Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?" There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. "Sin," he said

Well, we’ve all been there haven’t we?

We’re all human and we all try hard but sometimes …sometimes we don’t quite get it right.

Sin, forgiveness …they lie on two different sides of a big divide. They lie on the two sides of a broken relationship.

If we need forgiveness then not only have we done something wrong we have also damaged or broken a precious relationship either between one another or between us and God.

Remember Jesus’ new commandment we were thinking about just last week.

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (Jn 13:34-35)


Forgiveness is an interesting concept that has many different aspects. In the Bible three Hebrew words in the Old Testament and four Greek words in the New Testament are used to describe the concept. They cover such terms as: "to cover or blot out our sins." "to bear, to take away" our sins,  "to pardon," our sins,

"to release" us from our sins,  to send away our sins, to disregard our sins, There also is the wonderful word charizomai, which comes from the word charis, or "grace." Charizomai means "to grace you". Grace means that which brings delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune. 


Forgiveness is all about sin, it seems and grace.

As I’ve said before, the Hebrew word most often translated by the word ‘sin’ in our English Bibles actually means “missing the mark”. It’s the same kind of missing that one talks about when an archer misses the target when shooting their arrow. It’s an error or a mistake – and think of that word too – a miss take – like an out take in the film world– a miss take. We all make mistakes, we all miss the mark – we can’t always live up to what God expects of us or what we expect of one another. It’s part of our human nature that we constantly struggle with.


It’s a wonderful thought isn’t it that when somebody makes a mistake, whatever that may be, if somebody does something we don’t like, or something that offends us or hurts us - that instead of burdening that person, and ourselves, with ill feeling, resentment, perhaps even hatred – instead of seeking retribution, or revenge or punishment - we can forgive – we can take it away, we can disregard it. We can grace them – and ourselves - we can bring delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune instead. Forgiveness brings all these good things to both parties if just one person is willing to give it – and of course the other accept it – for after all it is a two way thing – we cannot really forgive unless it is accepted. Perhaps the most important things that forgiveness brings are freedom and peace and reconciliation – wholeness- the healing of relationship the taking away of bad feelings.


It’s amazing how an attitude of forgiveness can spread. It is after all, a form of showing love. In the story the first man didn’t channel the forgiveness – he didn’t pass it on but that is what we are asked to do. God has forgiven us all our mistakes – Christ has paid our debt – we are asked to pass that forgiveness on – we are asked to freely gift people with grace – to bring them delight, joy, happiness, good fortune, freedom and peace. Through doing that we receive all those good things too!


It was Martin Luther King who said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

Forgiveness moves beyond the hurt… beyond the need to hurt back and to seek revenge or punishment…forgiveness brings freedom to both parties, it brings trust, healing, wholeness and peace. Forgiveness is an orientation, a commitment to a journey, a process that leads us to a new place. Forgiveness leads us to release from anger, it offers healing of the spirit, and allows us to put down the burden of hurt and pain. This is why it is such an important part of our church life together, and of our very lives.

Thanks be to God for his forgiveness now and for evermore. Amen


Hymn: 555 Amazing grace




Prayers for Others:

We praise you Lord from the depths of our hearts.

We come before you thankful for your great mercy and love.

You are compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and overflowing in love.

Your love is so generous – it seems to stretch from the bottom of the deepest sea to the top of the highest mountains.

You take our failures and you cast them away.

Like the most loving parent, you look on us with tender love

We praise you Lord from the depths of our hearts.


Like the most loving parent, you look on us with tender love

and you call us to love and serve you

by loving and serving our brothers and sisters near and far

and so we offer you our prayers for the world you have created:


we pray for those who do not have what they need in order to survive: those without food and water, medical care, shelter or security. We think of refugees, of survivors of natural disasters: mudslides, earthquakes, floods, draughts and hurricanes,

We think of those living in countries torn apart by fighting and warfare, we think of those who have lost loved ones in the fires raging across parts of America, those who have lost everything they have. We thank you for all those who bring aid and seek to help those in need.


We pray for all those who are trapped by the burden of debt from which they can see no escape.

We pray for families, church families, communities and countries

for places where there is discord or division, bitterness or anger.

Bring your grace and peace, we pray.


We thank you for those who bring help and healing, food and shelter, for those who work to bring about reconciliation, for mediators, for counsellors and for peacemakers.


Lord, we pray for those imprisoned by the grudges they bear and the resentment they brood over, may they find the release of your forgiveness and of their own forgiveness too. Help us all to live with forgiving hearts – forgiving the debts of our deborts as you have forgiven ours.


Lord, we pray for all those who we know who are sick, in pain and suffering, for those who mourn and those who seek

we bring their names before you in the silence of our hearts.


As we hold them in our hearts we know that you hold them in your too. May they know the peace of your healing presence, we pray.


Loving Heavenly Father,

bless all we do and say, that our minds may be directed by your love, and our tongues controlled by your peace,

so that in word and action our lives may bring glory to your name

Lord, hear us as we call to you;

and accept the prayers of our hearts

for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.