Hear the Spirit: Proper 19A

Readings and supplemental resources for Proper 19A in the RCL

September 13, 2020 | Pentecost +15

A generous forgiveness from the heart.

Collect for Proper 19

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 for ever. Amen.~BCP 233

Genesis 50:15-21 NRSV

In our Hebrew scripture lesson Joseph’s brothers fear his wrath upon learning of the death of their father Jacob.

15 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?’ 16 So 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. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ 19 But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even 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. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Romans 14:1-12 NRSV

In this reading Paul calls upon the Roman disciples to live with tolerance for one another’s scruples, recognizing that everything can be done to honor the Lord with whom each Christian has a relationship.

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

5 Some 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. 6 Those 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.

7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If 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. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 Why 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 judgement seat of God. 11 For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ 12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Matthew 18:21-35 NRSV

In the gospel lesson Jesus bids his disciples to offer a forgiveness which is, for all practical purposes, unlimited, and he tells a parable about a man who, although forgiven much, still himself had no mercy.

Note on Matthew 18:24
The servant owes roughly 150,000 years’ worth of wages—an absurdly insurmountable debt intended to shock Jesus’ listeners and pale in comparison to the much smaller amount demanded by the servant in v. 28. The Greek text’s reference to 10,000 talents represents the largest number used in ancient calculations and the highest monetary unit at that time (one talent was equivalent to 15 years’ worth of wages).

Source: John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Mt 18:24.

Talent: a unit of silver equal to 6,000 Greek drachmae or Roman denarii. One talent was roughly equal to what a typical worker could make over a sixteen-year period. … In [Matthew 18:23–35], Jesus uses creative exaggeration to stress the incalculable difference between divine and human mercy. A servant owes his king (God) 10,000 talents (millions of dollars), a debt that is forgiven; but then the first servant does not forgive a fellow servant who owes him 100 denarii.

Denarius: a silver Roman coin that would have been the usual day’s wage for a typical laborer (plural, denarii). This is the most mentioned unit of currency in the NT. Jesus used a denarius as an object lesson for his teaching that one should give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor (Matt. 22:19); his disciples complained that 200 denarii would not buy enough bread for a hungry multitude (Mark 6:37).

Source: John W. Betlyon and Mark Allan Powell, “Money,” ed. Mark Allan Powell, The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 651.

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

Psalm 103:8-13 BCP 733

The Psalm Response is a hymn of blessing in thanksgiving for healing forgiveness and for all the Lord’s acts of compassion and justice.

8 The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.

9 He will not always accuse us, * nor will he keep his anger for ever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, *
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west, *
so far has he removed our sins from us.

13 As a father cares for his children, *
so does the Lord care for those who fear him.

Supplemental Material

“Forgive our sins as we forgive” Hymn 674 in Hymnal 1982

On Sunday, September 13th we’ll use the hymn “Forgive our sins as we forgive” after we’ve heard the reading from Romans and before we hear the Gospel passage. What follows is an essay by C. Michael Hawn, distinguished professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology. He is also director of the seminary’s sacred music program. Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church is a dependable online resource for study. I recommend the site. ~Fr. Dan

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Accepting and giving forgiveness may be one of the most important aspects of living. I believe that the Assurance of Pardon is one of the most significant parts of Christian worship: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!” These words may offer healing and hope for many in worship, even beyond anything else said or sung. Forgiveness is not only a personal way of living, but also an attribute of societies. How many times do we observe centuries of hate and hurt that, because of the inability to forgive, continue to fester and cause suffering, death, and destruction?

Portions of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) have been cited in many hymns. For example, the militant missionary hymn, “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” (United Methodist Hymnal, 569) echoes “Thy kingdom come on earth” in the refrain: “And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth.” Presbyterian hymnologist Louis Benson concludes his Communion hymn “For the Bread which You Have Broken” (United Methodist Hymnal, 614, 615) with the first petition, “let your kingdom come, O Lord.” Forgiveness has received less attention, however.

With “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive” by Rosamond Herklots (1905-1987), we receive a full treatment of Matthew 6:12: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (KJV) Luke 11:4 states: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” “Trespasses” first appeared in William Tyndale’s translation in 1526 and was retained for use in the first Book of Common Prayer in English in 1549. The English Language Liturgical Consultation (1988), a group of ecumenical liturgists in the English-speaking world, proposed “and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” A companion Scripture is Colossians 3:13, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (ESV).

The Companion to Hymns and Psalms (1988), the companion to the 1983 Methodist hymnal used in England, provides the origins of this hymn:

This hymn was written in June 1966 and printed soon afterward in the parish magazine of St. Mary’s Church, Bromley, Kent. The idea of the hymn had occurred to Miss Herklots when she was digging out weeds in her nephew’s garden; she reasoned that their deep roots, obstructing the growth of the flowers near them, resembled the bitterness and resentment that can become entrenched and hinder the Christian’s growth in grace.

Herklots’ language is potent in describing the blessings we miss when our “heart . . . broods on wrongs and will not let old bitterness depart” (stanza two) In stanza three, she contrasts the “trivial debts [that] are owed to us” with “our great debt to [Christ]!”

The final stanza is a prayer of petition “cleanse . . . our souls” and “bid resentment cease.” Forgiveness leads to establishing “bonds of love” so that “our lives will spread [Christ’s] peace.”

Rosamund Eleanor Herklots was born in Masuri, India, in 1905 to missionary parents. She was educated at Leeds Girls’ High School and the University of Leeds in England. Working as a teacher and secretary, she began writing hymns in the early 1940s. She submitted hymns for the “Hymns for Britain” competition, two of which were selected to be sung on television. Her total corpus of hymns numbered more than seventy. Herklots died in Greenwich, London, in 1987.

British hymnologist J. R. Watson noted changes in the original text: “At some point after 1978, when an unauthorized inclusive language version was published in the USA, the author modified the third and fourth verses: ‘How small the debts men owe to us’ became ‘What trivial debts are owed to us,’ while ‘Then, reconciled to God and man’ was altered to ‘Then, bound to all in bonds of love.’” This is the version that appears in The United Methodist Hymnal.

I was in South Africa in 1998 during the presidency of Nelson Mandela. Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu presented President Mandela with the bound volumes containing the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I was sitting among a group of black and white Methodist ministers watching this historic occasion on television as Tutu referenced one of the many important revelations that took place during the process that the Commission hoped would lead to healing and hope for South Africa. At one point, Tutu recalled a black woman who asked him, “Who murdered my husband?” Tutu responded, “We do not know.” She was insistent, however, and continued, “I must know who killed my husband.” Again, the patient Tutu responded, “I’m sorry, but we may never know who killed your husband.” Still her question persisted. Finally, Tutu asked, “My dear lady, why must you know who killed your husband?” She responded simply and quietly, “So I can forgive him.”

There are many variations of this hymn on YouTube here are two:

Amazing Worship TV

drolas94

“Forgive our sins as we forgive” by Rosamund Herklots

1. ‘Forgive our sins as we forgive,
‘ You taught us, Lord, to pray,
But you alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.

2. How can your pardon reach and bless
The unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?

3. In blazing light your Cross reveals
The truth we dimly knew:
What trivial debts are owed to us,
How great our debt to you!

4. Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease.
Then, bound to all in bonds of love,
Our lives will spread your peace.

Text: Rosamund Herklots, b.1905, © Oxford University Press

Source Material

View or Download the Proper 19A Study Handout

NRSV: Bible Gateway website

Book of Common Prayer (BCP): justus.anglican.org

Introductions to the Readings are from the book  Introducing the Lessons of the Church Year, 3rd Ed.  (Kindle Edition) by Frederick Borsch and George Woodward.

“Forgive our sins as we forgive” on History of Hymns curated by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

Look Father, look on his anointed face

In the Sunday Forum (10/16/11) we talked about the glory of God in the face of God; glory beyond human capacity to assimilate. Mose could only see the backside of God and live (Exodus 33:20-23). David remembered a hymn in which we sing our prayer to God to see the face of Christ when looking upon us (see verse 2). Glory looking upon Glory. Isn’t that a prayer worth singing?

And now, O Father, mindful of the love
that bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree,
and having with us him that pleads above,
we here present, we here spread forth to thee,
that only offering perfect in thine eyes,
the one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.

Look Father, look on his anointed face,
and only look on us as found in him;
look not on our misusings of thy grace,
our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
for lo! between our sins and their reward,
we set the passion of thy Son our Lord.

And then for those, our dearest and our best,
by this prevailing presence we appeal;
O fold them closer to thy mercyís breast!
O do thine utmost for their soulís true weal!
From tainting mischief keep them pure and clear,
and crown thy gifts with strength to persevere.

And so we come; O draw us to thy feet,
most patient Savior, who canst love us still!
And by this food, so awesome and so sweet,
deliver us from every touch of ill:
in thine own service make us glad and free,
and grant us nevermore to part from thee.

Words: William Bright (1824–1901), alt.
Music: Unde et memores, William Henry Monk (1823–1889)

This is Hymn 337 in the Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church. Lately we have talked a lot about hymns and their role in shaping and defining and encouraging our faith; check these out:

Please continue the conversation begun on Sunday by leaving a comment to share. We welcome your responses.

Then sings my soul …

Over the past several weeks we have talked about music in the Sunday Morning Forum. We have shared how words and music combined in hymns to thrill us, inform us, inspire us, encourage us, and so much more. In the Forum and in this blog I’ll continue to share your musical insights.

Richard wrote to me “It’s true there is a huge amount of power in music. I have several favorites. My first choice would have to be “How Great Thou Art”. When ever I hear it I feel completely at one with the Universe and it’s celebration which never ends.” How Great Thou Art is in our Episcopal hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing II (No. 60)

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Send him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God how great thou art.

Words: Stuart K. Hine (b. 1899)
Music: Swedish Folk Melod; arr. Stuart K. Hine

Keep sharing your favorites (add a little note about why) and we’ll keep this conversation going. The Spirit is singing now!

Can we by searching find out God or formulate his ways?

Paul exclaimed, “I want to know Christ…” (Philippians 3:10). On Sunday 10/2/2011 we explored this statement in our Sunday Morning Forum. “How do YOU know Christ? Where have YOU encountered Christ?” were among the questions we asked, sharing our answers around the table.

Once again, music was mentioned, specifically hymns used in worship, as a place of encounter and inspiration and knowledge. Bill shared one of his favorites, which happens to follow our readings from Philippians pretty closely: “Can we by searching find out God or formulate his ways?” which Hymn 476 in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal.

Here are the lyrics

Can we by searching find out God
or formulate his ways?
Can numbers measure what he is
or words contain his praise?

Although his being is too bright
for human eyes to scan,
his meaning lights our shadowed world
through Christ, the Son of Man.

Our boastfulness is turned to shame,
our profit counts as loss,
when earthly values stand beside
the manger and the cross.

There God breaks in upon our search,
makes birth and death his own;
he speaks to us in human terms
to make his glory known. [1]

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying. Share your favorite hymn of encounter, inspiration, encouragement, or knowledge by leaving a reply and continuing the Sunday conversation here.

____________
[1] Words: Elizabeth Cosnett (b. 1936), alt.
Music: Epworth, melody att. Charles Wesley (1757–1834), alt.; harm. Martin Fallas Shaw (1875–1958), alt.

Whom shall I send?

Continuing the conversation about music and faith, Barbara wrote (and permitted me to share) this:

My MOST favorite hymn is “Here I Am Lord”.  I used that hymn as “my song” when I gave my talk on laity at a Cursillo some time ago.  I still love it!

Here are the lyrics:

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in deepest sin
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Refrain
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me,
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my peopleís pain.
I have wept for love of them,
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send? Refrain

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them,
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
Till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send? Refrain

Hymn 812 in the Episcopal hymnal Wonder, Love, and Praise
Words: Daniel L. Schutte
Music: Daniel L. Schutte

This response is part of our conversation begun on Sunday morning, September 25th. Do you have a favorite hymn or 2? Share them with the group. Let us continue the conversation that Paul started long ago by quoting a hymn in his letter to the Philippians.

Words or music? Music or words?

Sometimes the melody is all it takes to move my heart into the heart of God (or God’s heart into mine). Though I love to sing the words of this hymn and make them real by my actions, it is the melody which both embraces me and sends me heavenward.

Continuing the conversation begun on Sunday (9/25) “Be thou my vision” is the song I share today:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
all else be nought to me, save that thou art;
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father; thine own may I be;
thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.

High King of heaven, when victory is won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Hymn 488 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982

Words: Irish, ca. 700; versified Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880–1931); tr. Eleanor H. Hull (1860–1935), alt.

Music: Slane, Irish ballad melody; adapt. The Church Hymnary, 1927; harm. David Evans (1874–1948)

 

I mean to be one too

What hymns or songs or music help you “have the mind of Christ” that the Apostle wants you to have? (Philippians 2:1-13) It doesn’t even have to be “sacred music” that inspires you. Where does this question (and invitation to share) come from?

In yesterday’s Forum (9/25/11) we listened to Paul: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:3-5) We listened to the Spirit and we listened to each other. We wondered:

How do you do know the mind of Christ? How do you live with the mind (intentionality) of Christ?

Among the answers, affirming what Paul says—“it is God who is at work in you” (v. 13)—we agreed to a person that we know the mind of Christ and we live revealing Christ, by the grace of God: grace encountered in prayer and worship, grace encountered in serving others for the love of God, grace encountered in personal and communal study like this one.

Paul, according to most biblical scholars, quotes from a hymn (vv. 6-11) to help his readers understand “the mind of Christ.” In the next few days I will share some of the hymns that help me understand the mind of Christ and help me renew my dedication to live my life with the mind of Christ.

I invite you to share hymns and songs and even music—from ancient to contemporary, secular or sacred—that help you know the mind of Christ and act with the mind of Christ.

Today’s hymn for me: “I sing a song of the saints of God” (Hymn 293 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982). Playful, an easy melody (for me), a celebration recalling that “the saints of God are just folk like me,” and a grace-filled dedication to send me on— “and I mean to be one too” —make this one of my favorites and puts me in mind of the Apostle’s teaching.

I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green:
they were all of them saints of God and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and his love made them strong;
and they followed the right, for Jesus’ sake,
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
and there’s not any reason no, not the least,
why I shouldn’t be one too.

They lived not only in ages past,
there are hundreds of thousands still,
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.

Words:        Lesbia Scott (1898–1986), alt.
Music:        Grand Isle, John Henry Hopkins (1861–1945)