Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 17, 2017, Proper 19, Year A

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 14:19-31)

The angel and the pillar of cloud that had been leading Israel out of Egypt move to the end of the column and place themselves between the people and the pursuing Egyptian army. Confronting the Red Sea, Moses stretches out his hand and Yahweh has a strong wind part the water and make a dry path for their escape. Pharaoh follows but the waters close over his army while Israel learns to trust in Yahweh and his servant Moses.

Psalm (114)

The Psalmist celebrates the Exodus as the time when Yahweh began to dwell with Israel, and both the Red Sea and the Jordan River parted for their crossing. Even the mountains and the rivers resonate to his mighty saving acts. Indeed the whole earth trembles at his awesome presence.

OR

Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21

The Song of Moses exults in the victory of Yahweh at the Red Sea where both horse and rider were cast into the sea. He gives full credit to Yahweh who proves himself in full control of nature and superior to any other gods. Miriam, sister to Moses and Aaron and a prophet herself, joins in the celebratory refrain.

Second Reading (Romans 14:1-12)

St. Paul, recognizing that those who are weak in faith need to be nourished in the Christian community, points out that they are welcomed and helped by God himself and should not be in any way despised by the “strong”. This applies especially to religious observances involving foods and holy days. We live unto the Lord and each should honour him as best we can. He is the one who will judge.

Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35)

In response to Peter’s question about the limits to forgiving our fellow Christians Jesus tells a parable about a king who decides to settle accounts with the slaves who handled his affairs. One of them owed a huge sum he could not cover and begged for mercy. When the king simply forgave him, he failed to extend any mercy to another slave who owed him a pittance. This greatly angered the King who had the man tortured for his behaviour. We can expect God to have the same attitude to those of us who refuse to forgive.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God is not subject to nature but in control of it
  • Nature is witness to the greatness of God
  • Judgment is real but it is in the hands of God, not our own
  • The importance of community life in the Kingdom
  • No limit to mercy extended to the penitent
  • Forgiveness and forbearance are to mark the Christian life
  • We are to extend to others what God has so much more extended to us

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Genesis 50:15-21)

Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt and now that their father Jacob is dead they are worried that he will take his revenge. So they tell Joseph that before he died their father had asked that he forgive them. Joseph wept when he heard this and they bowed down to him, calling themselves his slaves exactly as his dreams had predicted. He told them that although they had meant it for evil, God intended it for good.

Psalm (103:[1-7], 8-13)

This Psalm calls for the congregation to bless Yahweh for all he does in his loving kindness: forgives our sins; heals our diseases; gets us out of trouble; satisfies us with good. It is a merciful and gracious Yahweh who works justice for the oppressed and removes our sin far from us, not repaying us as we deserve.

Second Reading (Romans 14:1-12)

St. Paul, recognizing that those who are weak in faith need to be nourished in the Christian community, points out that they are welcomed and helped by God himself and should not be in any way despised by the “strong”. This applies especially to religious observances involving foods and holy days. We live unto the Lord and each should honour him as best we can. He is the one who will judge.

Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35)

In response to Peter’s question about the limits to forgiving our fellow Christians Jesus tells a parable about a king who decides to settle accounts with the slaves who handled his affairs. One of them owed a huge sum he could not cover and begged for mercy. When the king simply forgave him, he failed to extend any mercy to another slave who owed him a pittance. This greatly angered the King who had the man tortured for his behaviour. We can expect God to have the same attitude to those of us who refuse to forgive.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God is in control of the course of history
  • Judgment is real but it is in the hands of God, not our own
  • The importance of community life in the Kingdom
  • No limit to mercy extended to the penitent
  • Forgiveness and forbearance are to mark the Christian life
  • We are to extend to others what God has so much more extended to us

 

 

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