- The Collect (BCP 182/233): We ask that God’s Holy Spirit may direct our lives and rule our hearts in all things.
- Exodus 14:19-31: The Lord saves Israel from the Egyptians as Moses divides the waters and the people cross onto dry land. This creation theme helps interpret Israel’s exodus out of Egypt as God’s defeat of the primal forces of evil and chaos in the world.
- Psalm 114: A poetic accounting of the Exodus, wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land and God’s sanctuary; OR (Canticle) Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21: The Songs of Moses and Miriam
- Romans 14:1-12: Paul offers instructions about what is required when people from different backgrounds with strongly held opinions try to live together as a community of faith. The Christian community in Rome had significant struggles with diversity. Paul helps us understand that despite different practices in worship and personal piety, we do not judge one another.
- Matthew 18:21-35: A lesson on human forgiveness, following Peter’s question to Jesus regarding how often he must forgive his brother if his brother continues to wrong him. Jesus shares a story showing that forgiveness has no limits. Human forgiveness should mirror the unlimited mercy of God.
Congregational life must express forgiveness found in today’s text, including the healing divisions within congregations, the community, and the world. The passing of the peace is an acting-out of this forgiveness principle. God’s forgiveness must be passed on to others if it is to be realized in our own lives. “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
The Lord’s Prayer also reflects the parable and Jesus’ admonition. Each time we gather for worship we pray that we will be forgiven to the extent that we are ready to forgive others. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”
- Jesus calls us to practice unlimited forgiveness in our personal relationships. Think of a time when you forgave another person, as well as a time when you yourself were forgiven. As you compare the two experiences, discuss what it is like to forgive as well as to be forgiven.
- How would you define forgiveness? What does it mean to forgive “from your heart” (v. 35)?
- What are the attributes of tolerance that Paul proclaims to the Christian community in the reading from Romans? How can we apply these principles?
- What are the events in your own life that have strengthened your faith?