The world belongs to God
The earth and all its people
How good and lovely it is
To live together in unity
Love and faith come together
Justice and peace join hands
Let us in silence remember our faults and failings
Christ have mercy on us, and deliver us from our sins and may we amend our lives
Song “Morning has broken”
Song “Hallelujah Sings”
Matthew draws together sayings on humility and greatness and the seriousness of causing little ones to sin. He has gathered together Jesus' teachings on membership in the kingdom of God - life under God's authority. It ends with "when Jesus had finished saying these things". When the gospels were written, the sayings and acts of Jesus would have been known off by heart.
Membership of the kingdom of God belongs to those who are dependent on God's grace for their salvation, not their reputation, or their wonderful deeds. It is a godly responsibility not to lead people away from God.
The Beatitudes remind us that the humble are those who inherit the earth, they are the ones who recognize their poverty before God, mourn for their loss of divine standing, thirst for righteousness, and in their yearning are blessed with Gods grace. They bear the fruit of faith, mercy, purity of heart, peacemakers, but are persecuted. On the other hand there are those who think they are God's gift to humankind and exalt themselves. Humility is not modesty, but relying on God.
Matthew here has put together didactic sayings of Jesus. The sayings are about church discipline.
The first saying is often treated as a method for dealing with a sister or brother who has hurt us - sinned against us. This is commonly used in Christian fellowships. Sometimes badly! Someone has wavered in their faith, and their standing before Christ needs to be restored. We must bring them face to face with what is right again.
"If a member of the church sins against you"-the sin is undefined, but given the instructions it must be serious. The context it is the consequence of skandalizw, of having a stumbling block placed before a person. The skandalwn is the cause of the stumbling or entrapment. The outcome for those who are the causes of the stumbling is dire. In our world stumbling blocks are inevitable, but this does not mean that a person has to promote or create them; woe to the person who does.
Back to our person who has been the object of stumbling blocks! Bring the problem to light, do it privately rather than publicly. Have it out with them. If they listen to you have won them over. If s/he doesn’t listen, take a few others, (as witnesses Deuteronomy 19:15 establishing the point that a person cannot be convicted on the evidence of just one person), to confront the problem, emphasizes the need to exhaust every possibility in the effort to win back the person. If this fails shake the dust off your feet and walk away. This however does not mean treat him with contempt or cruelty.
In seeking to restore the brother or sister who has strayed from the faith, the Christian community seeks them out to restore them. Here the authority is given to the Christian community. We are given the authority to arbitrate on matters of God's will. We can condemn or forgive. Whatever you loose, abolish upon the earth, will have been loosed.
The second saying is on the authority of the church. The saying can be understood in a number of ways. So, for example, the saying may give the idea that when two or more Christians believe in something in prayer, it will happen. But what about unanswered prayers? The saying probably means that when two or three meet in Jesus' name, God will be present, revealing God's will to them.
Jesus promises that he will be with his people, even when there are just two or three present.
Forgiveness depends on the theology that we all fail! I think it is probably the supreme mark of a Christian that we believe in forgiveness. There but for the grace of God go you or I. Unfortunately, our society does not believe in forgiveness.
But as Christians we cant refuse to forgive someone if they are sorry because they have failed!
The Forgiveness Project shows this in a remarkable way how forgiveness changes lives. http://theforgivenessproject.com/
When a person, or a community, or even a nation says, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you" (Luke 15:18), a new possibility appears on the horizon of human history…Genuine forgiveness cannot be established on a lie. Only truth can be the foundation of forgiveness. Truth holds the forgiver and the forgiven responsible to each other.” Amen
Song “All my hope”
The blessing of God be upon you
On those you love and those you meet
This day and forevermore. Amen
With thanks to the ©Iona Community adapted
Song “Let your kingdom come”