The 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Slate with students

Students from the past using slates in school.

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, September 13, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We continue to offer in-person services following the normal schedule for both MLLC and Waldeck.  The Facebook Live services will be offered on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. from Waldeck, and at 10:00 a.m. from MLLC.

Below are the readings, prayers, and Sunday sermon.

Remember Your Regular Offerings

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For both of our congregations, Waldeck and MLLC, please remember that our expenses continue even when we are unable to meet as usual.  Please make a point to give your offerings as you would on a typical week.  Here are some ideas of what to do:

For Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ledbetter:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church; 6915 Waldeck Church Lane; Ledbetter, TX 78946

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

For MLLC in Carmine:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – MLLC, P O BOX 362, Carmine, TX 78932-0362

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

– give offerings through the church web site:  mllccarmine.com/online-giving  This page has a link to our secure giving page.  Offerings can be made by bank draft, debit card, or credit card through this special web site.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2020

15th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

 

First Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

R:  A reading from Genesis, the 50th chapter.

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.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm: Psalm 103:1-13

R:  Psalm 103, read responsively by verse.

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

R:  A reading from Romans, the 14th chapter.

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.

The word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

 

*Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 18th chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

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 [Jesus], “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.”

The gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Devotion

“Clean Slate, Courtesy of Jesus”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

My parents started school in the 1930s.  My father was even in a one room schoolhouse.  Back then they used what are called, “slates,” for doing parts of their school work.  These were thin layers of a stone called slate which is cut to form a small chalk or marker board.  They used chalk to write words or complete math problems.  It was a way for students to have an easy to use and easy to clean writing surface.

The term, “Clean Slate,” comes from these work surfaces for students.  They could do their work and then clean it off with water or a cloth.  Then they had a fresh surface to write again.  Thus, a, “clean slate.”

With the forgiveness of our sin by God we are given a, “clean slate,” of sorts.  If the slate records our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds, then the loving work of God in Jesus washes away the record of sin.  Instead of remembering our sin, the Lord chooses to forgive and clean away the eternal record of our sin.  Each and every day, as we confess our sin to God and as we offer forgiveness of the sin of others against us, we are getting that clean slate.  God acts.  We respond.  God cleans the slate.

As we think about this, maybe that is what Jesus had in mind when he increased the number of times to forgive to 77 times.  But who is counting?  If forgiveness means wiping away the deed, then we are always going back to one.  It is to be forgiven, once and for all.

In today’s reading from the book of Matthew we have an encounter between Jesus and Peter.  Jesus had been speaking about reconciliation between church members when Peter came to him.  Peter’s question was this, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Here in this passage Jesus teaches us that forgiveness is foundational to community in Christ.  Yes, acknowledge the sin, but also forgive.  Put it behind yourself and get on with living in community.  Sadly, sometimes in our sinful and broken condition, we can neither forgive nor accept forgiveness.  In doing so, we hurt the church.  To move on well with our life together in the church we need both to forgive and to accept forgiveness.

Throughout the years I have never heard anybody come to the end of their life and say they wished they had spent more time holding grudges or refusing to forgive others.  Rather, they have said the opposite.  They wish they had been more forgiving of others, and of themselves.

The value and power of forgiveness in life is accentuated by the teaching story, or parable, which Jesus shares in today’s Gospel reading.  He tells the story of a king who calls in his accounts with his administrator slaves.  At one point a slave who owes the king ten thousand talents of godl was brought to him.  Now to give you perspective, 10,000 talents of gold was 750,000 pounds of gold, or 12,000,000 ounces of gold.  At the current approximate price of gold of $1935.00 per ounce, that man owed the king $ 23,220,000,000.00 – twenty-three billion, two hundred twenty million dollars.  Of course, Jesus is using hyperbole to make the point with this wildly large amount of personal debt.

So, this slave who owes over twenty-three billion dollars begins to beg the king from more time to pay the debt.  In response, the king forgives the entire amount of this enormous debt.  Later, the forgiven slave encounters a fellow slave who owes him 100 denarii, which is about $10,000 in today’s money in our American economy.  The slave could not pay the full amount immediately, so the previously forgiven slave has the second slave put in debtor’s prison.

When the king found this out, he summoned the forgiven slave and said, “You wicked slave!  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?”    Immediately the king threw the wicked slave into the dungeon for torture until he could pay back his debt of over 23 billion dollars.

The main message of the story is this:  God’s forgiveness of our sin is beyond generous and grand.  There is nothing we can do to earn it, nor can we ever imagine paying the Lord back for what he has done for us.  God’s forgiveness of our sin is founded in God’s love and in the death of God the Son, Jesus Christ.  God, the Son, went to the cross and died our death for our forgiveness.  He made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  After that he was raised to eternal life.  Founded in his love and forgiveness, we are called to follow him through this life as well.

Even if we supposedly could do enough good things to pay back the debt of our sin, it doesn’t work that way.  If life with God were about paying him back for our sin, then we would never get around to the life he has prepared for us.  We would miss out on the joy of living in friendship with God and following his most excellent way.  You see, God loves us and he joyfully grants us all we need to know him both now and in eternity.  Within the forgiven life we are called to a better way. God has called us to follow his way, and to forgive as we have ourselves been forgiven.

Retired United Methodist Pastor Sara Owen-Gemoets tells of how living the forgiven life works for the benefit of us and for the benefit of others.  She said, “This parable of the unmerciful servant illustrates beautifully the “echo effect”.  The ‘echo effect’ means that we receive back in life exactly what we give out.  Try it sometime.  Go around and tell everyone how horrible they are and that you hate them.  Shake you fist at people and make obscene gestures on the highway.  What do you imagine you’ll receive in return?

Then flip it around.  Spend a few days paying people compliments; tell them you love them.  Do random acts of kindness.  Then what do you think you’ll receive in return?  This parable is a great example of the ‘echo effect’.  What we give out in life is exactly what we receive in return.  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.””

My prayer for all of us is that we will live the forgiven life:  one where sin and offenses are put behind us; one where we bless others have we have been blessed by God; one where we work for reconciliation in the community of faith.  All of this matters for two reasons:

1)   This is a faithful and appropriate response to God’s forgiveness and love in our lives.

2)   This sets the tone for life within the community of faith, the church.

May we all live the forgiven life, both today and in the future, because through God’s forgiveness our sin is “wiped out and gone forever.”  By the love of Jesus we have a, “Clean Slate.”

Let us pray – Gracious Lord, you are the source of all love and forgiveness.  Help us to seek you always for the forgiveness of sin which leads to eternal life with you.  We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

*Prayers of Intercession

A:  Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

A brief silence.

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the one true God.  Turn our hearts toward you, for you are the refuge for our weary lives, you are the one who forgives all our sin over and over again.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We remember those who lost their lives because of terrorist attacks on our nation nineteen years ago.  You are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble.  Uphold us with your love and give us the strength we need.  Help us to seek reconciliation and peace in this hurting world.  We give thanks for the emergency responders who risked and gave their lives for the sake of their neighbors in peril.  Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

We pray for your strength and presence for those who mourn.  Help us to honor the memory of those who have gone before us.  (We especially remember…)   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We ask that you bring healing, strength and hope to those who struggle in mind, body, or spirit, especially . . .  and those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  We ask that you will be their help and their shield.   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for recent rain in our area.  Help us to trust in you during times of scarcity and of abundance.  Grant us greater love for others as we work together as faithful stewards of your provision. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

P:  Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

 

LORD’S PRAYER 

 

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

HARVEST FESTIVAL will be held on October 18 at the Carmine Hall.  No confirmation reunion will be held this year.  Worship service (no communion) will be at 10:15 a.m. with the Praise Team leading Country Gospel songs.  The kettle fried chicken dinner will be drive-through only from 11-12:30.  Desserts will be available.  Tickets must be purchased in advance for $10.  Members may contact Shelby Vaughn at 979-203-4313 if they wish to take tickets to sell.  Tickets are available in the church office.  Members are also asked to take posters to place at businesses in different towns.

Raffle tickets are $10 with 6 big prizes.  Karen Roemer has those available and are also being sold in the church office.

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF Some of the items lost in the Beirut, Lebanon port explosion came from our congregation.  To make a monetary contribution go to the MLLC website with the following link:

https://mllccarmine.com/2020/08/10/beirut-explosion-and-lutheran-world-relief/

 Waldeck Lutheran Church BBQ Sunday, September 27. 10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.  Drive thru only.  Whole Chicken $10/each; Sausage Links $7/each.  Homemade BBQ sauce also available.  Pre-order by calling 979-249-6551 or 979-966-8872.  Tell your friends.  This is their main, special fundraiser for 2020.  Thank you for your support.

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