Worship Outline and Sermon 

Worship Outline: Sunday, September 17 - Time after Pentecost (Holy Communion)

Introduction to the day

In today’s second reading Paul questions why we judge one another, since we all stand before the judgment of God. Yet we do sin against one another, and Jesus’ challenge that we forgive seventy-seven times reveals God’s boundless mercy. When we hear the words of forgiveness in worship and sign ourselves with the cross, we are renewed in baptism to be signs of reconciliation in the world.


(*=please stand, as able)


Quiet Time for Reflection and Prayer




Welcome and Announcements


*Confession and Forgiveness

All may make the sign of the cross, the sign that is marked at baptism.

Blessed be God, the one who forms us, Jesus who bears the cross, the Spirit who makes our joy complete.


Let us bow before God in humility, confessing our sin.

Silence is kept for reflection.

Steadfast and faithful God,

you have revealed the ways of justice, yet we fail to follow you.

We are overwhelmed by the world’s violence and suffering.

We are afraid to risk what we have for the sake of others.

For the harm we have caused, known and unknown, forgive us.

For the unjust demands we place on others and your creation, forgive us.

For the ways we turn away from you and our neighbor, forgive us.

Lead us back to you and set us on the right path; in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

Beloved in Christ, God’s justice stretches beyond all understanding. God’s compassion is beyond compare. In Jesus, God is always making a new way for us. In Christ, you are already and always forgiven. Amen.


*Gathering Song We Praise You, O God (# 870)


We praise you, O God, our redeemer, creator;

In grateful devotion our tribute we bring.

We lay it before you; we kneel and adore you;

We bless your holy name; glad praises we sing.


We worship you, God of our fathers and mothers;

Through trial and tempest our guide you have been;

When perils o’ertake us, you will not forsake us,

And with your help, O Lord, our struggles we win.


With voices united our praises we offer

And gladly our songs of thanksgiving we raise.

With you, Lord, beside us, your strong arm will guide us.

To you, our great Redeemer, forever be praise!


(Text: Julia C. Cory. Music: A. Valerius, ‘Nederlandtsch Gedenckclank’, 1626. Text and music: public domain.)


*Greeting (p. 98)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 

And also with you.


*Canticle of Praise (p. 101, sung) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMZrlPTt4aI



This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.


Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain,

Whose blood set us free to be people of God.

Power and riches, wisdom and strength,

And honour and blessing and glory are his.



Sing with all the people of God,

And join in the hymn of all creation:

Blessing and honour, glory and might

Be to God and the Lamb forever. Amen.



For the lamb who was slain has begun his reign. Alleluia.



*Prayer of the Day

O Lord God, merciful judge, you are the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness. Replace our hearts of stone with hearts that love and adore you, that we may delight in doing your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

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.


Hymn  God, When Human Bonds Are Broken (# 603)


God, when human bonds are broken

And we lack the love or skill

To restore the hope of healing,

Give us grace and make us still.    


Through that stillness, with your Spirit

Come into our world of stress,

For the sake of Christ forgiving

All the failures we confess.


You in us are bruised and broken:

Hear us as we seek release

From the pain of earlier living;

Set us free and grant us peace.


Send us, God of new beginnings,

Humbly hopeful into life.

Use us as a means of blessing;

Make us stronger, give us faith.


Give us faith to be more faithful,

Give us hope to be more true,

Give us love to go on learning;

God, encourage and renew!

(Text: Fred Kaan, © 1989, Hope Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission under OneLIicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: William H. Monk, public domain.)


Second Reading:  Romans 14:1-12

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 Acclamation (p. 102, sung)


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.


*Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

The holy gospel according to Matthew. 

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.


Sermon – Pastor Matthew


*Hymn of the Day Healer of Our Every Ill (# 612)



Healer of our ev’ry ill, light of each tomorrow,

Give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.


You who know our fears and sadness,

Grace us with your peace and gladness;

Spirit of all comfort fill our hearts.



In the pain and joy beholding

How your grace is still unfolding,

Give us all your vision, God of love.



Give us strength to love each other,

Ev’ry sister, ev’ry brother;

Spirit of all kindness, be our guide.


You who know each thought and feeling,

Teach us all your way of healing;

Spirit of compassion, fill each heart.


(Text and music: Marty Haugen, © 1987, GIA Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)


*Apostles’ Creed

  I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

  I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.


*Prayers of Intercession

Remembering the caring and generous works of God, we pray for the church, creation, and the needs of our neighbors.

A brief silence.

We pray for the church. Bless the missions and ministries of diverse congregations, that they uplift the good news of salvation in ways that can be understood. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for creation. Send rain to lands experiencing drought and healing to rivers clogged with pollution. Enrich the soil for trees and plants. Protect the crops needed to feed those who hunger. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for all who govern. Encourage those in positions of power to lead with empathy, practice forgiveness, and care for those who struggle. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for our neighbours who face illness of any kind. For those strained financially; for all living with chronic pain, mental illness, the disease of addiction, or otherwise afraid or in harm’s way; and for those facing the immense grief of natural disasters and their devastation including in Libya, Morocco and along the Atlantic. Protect all who cry out for mercy. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Those we pray for this morning include … Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray to you in the silence of our hearts … Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

We pray for the children, youth, and young adults in our Thunder Bay and Pass Lake congregations. Help us, whatever our age, to hear and to share the good news with each other, as children of God,

receive our prayer.

We give thanks for the saints who died in faith. Show us how to live faithfully, creatively, and lovingly in your church and world. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Remember us according to your steadfast love as we offer these and the prayers of our heart, trusting in your compassion made known through Jesus Christ. Amen.



The peace of Christ be with you always.

And also with you.


Offering Prayer

God of power, God of plenty, all things belong to you. We bring your gifts to the table, that all might be fed. Form us into the body of your Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.


*Great Thanksgiving (p.107, sung)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.


It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, through our Saviour Jesus Christ. And so, with all the choirs of angels, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:



Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.

Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.


Invitation to Communion

Jesus invites you to this table. Come, eat and live. The body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you.



If watching online, when the presiding minister says, ‘The body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you,’ we welcome all to take and eat a piece of bread, remembering and giving thanks for the promises given us in Christ Jesus. Please also do so, taking a glass of wine or another beverage.


Prayer after Communion

Blessed be your name, O God, for we have feasted on your Word, Christ Jesus, the joy and delight of our hearts. Strengthened by this food, send us to gather the world to your banquet, where none are left out and all are satisfied. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



The God of glory, Jesus Christ, name above all names, and the Spirit who lives in you, bless you now and forever.



*Sending Song Rise Up, O Saints of God! (# 669)


Rise up, O saints of God!

From vain ambitions turn;

Christ rose triumphant that your hearts

With nobler zeal might burn.


Speak out, O saints of God!

Despair engulfs earth’s frame;

As heirs of God’s baptismal grace,

The word of hope proclaim.


Rise up, O saints of God!

The kingdom’s task embrace;

Redress sin’s cruel consequence;

Give justice larger place.


Give heed, O saints of God!

Creation cries in pain;

Stretch forth your hand of healing now,

With love the weak sustain.


Commit your hearts to seek

The paths which Christ has trod;

And, quickened by the Spirit’s pow’r,

Rise up, O saints of God!


(Text: Norman O. Forness, © 1978, Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: William H. Walter, public domain.)



Go in peace. God is at work in you.

Thanks be to God.


From sundaysandseasons.com. Copyright © 2023 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Sermon: Sunday, September 17 - Time after Pentecost

Text: Matthew 18:21

       On social media leading up to the Wake the Giant concert at Marina Park yesterday, its organizers listed rules for attendees. Such lists tell those going what is expected of them, and what will be available to them. They also include boundaries, the line at which persons will be asked to leave, or forcibly removed. As a whole, they enable the community that gathers to have an enjoyable, safe, experience.

       Similar lists, formal and informal, fill our lives. We have laws, bylaws, and courts. Most organizations, including our congregation, have a ‘policy and procedures’ manual. Meanwhile, households run on mostly unwritten sets of expectations. They can include a distribution of chores, a reminder to lock the door at night, and a list of birthdays and other important dates to remember. The best intent of all these rules is to form a cohesive, positive, healthy, community, small or large.

       The 18th chapter of Matthew reads much like one of these sets of policies for the early church. In the first part, Jesus teaches about what it means to be the greatest among them. Then he outlines how to care for the weakest in the community. Last week our reading dealt with how to bring about reconciliation between dissenting members, and the limits, at least temporary, of that process.      

       This morning, we receive another part of these procedures, Jesus’ explanation of what forgiveness entails for people of faith.  Peter would like limits, say 7 times. Our saviour teaches him, and us, that forgiveness is not only a matter of words, or a simple action. It is to form part of our collective response to God’s mercy offered through Jesus.

       In the parable Jesus offers, we see a king settling accounts. Before him comes a slave who owes ten thousand talents. By this, we can understand that Jesus’ story is not factual. Not even the king would have had such wealth. It would have taken the slave 1000s of years to repay that much.  The slave is to stay in jail the rest of his life, and lose his spouse, his children, all his possessions. The situation is hopeless.

       The slave tries to bargain with the king, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything’. There is no way this can ever happen. However, then the parable takes another unexpected turn. The king shows pity on the slave, frees him and forgives all his debt. His misdeeds are set aside and he again is a member of the king’s staff.

       Other parts of scripture tell us that in love, rather than just pity, God came down and dwelt among us. Through Jesus, the good news of Creator’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace, took flesh.  In Christ, says Paul in our second reading, we have been given new life. Gathered into community, we now follow the rule of love and forgiveness, rather than the rule of judgment. We seek to build up each other, so that now, and, when Jesus comes, ‘every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall give praise to God’.

       This brings us to the second part of Jesus’ parable, and back to Peter’s initial question. Sometimes, it’s not that easy to forgive.  7 times, let alone 77 times, sounds impossible, especially if the person has been annoying, hurtful, or shows no signs of repentance. There are also times, like the forgiven slave, when we forget how God desires us to act. Then we behave, as Paul warns, on the basis of judgement and vengeance, rather than on the basis of love.  ‘Watch it when this happens’, warns Jesus. ‘God’s going to hold you equally accountable for your lack for forgiveness’.    

The good news is that Jesus calls us here, ‘brothers and sisters’. He envisions us living as members of a community, the ‘kingdom of God’, built on and living out God’s grace.  Forgiveness is to be something that we work on together. As such, it becomes one reflection of God’s love revealed for us and continued to be shared among us. Having ‘benefited from the generous mercy of God, we are called to extend generous mercy to others’ (WP).

       This shared journey of forgiveness is part of the call of the truth and reconciliation process continuing in our country. September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. ‘Reconciliation entails both the offer of forgiveness and the naming and acceptance of responsibility for wrongful, wounding conflict.’  Speaking to this, our inter-church national social justice coalition, KARIOS, has written that the process of truth and reconciliation, and of forgiveness, challenges us seek to journey together, to listen to one another, to learn and unlearn, to build relationships, to actively practice reconciliation, and to live out our commitment in worship, in prayer, and just action.  In the midst of God’s generous mercy, we receive a vision of community where the one hurt receives healing and equal standing. This relates both to indigenous persons, and all who are vulnerable, victimized, and hurt. Throughout this, God gives us strength for climbing the steps on the journey. God continues to share with us, and to call us to, a new community built on repentance, respect. and love.

       So the journey of forgiveness continues, as long as we live, says Paul, giving praise to God as we seek to understand the forgiveness we have received and that we share.  Amen.