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St Clement Church Community Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday Service



Good morning and welcome to our service.


‘Tis hard times, isn’t it?

Change - it seems that all around us is in turmoil – the cost of living, our familiar city centre, education, our health service and now our church – all are changing – and maybe not all for the better. Nothing is as it was, as we remember it. 

May the Holy Spirit guide us as we try to work through the next few weeks and months.                                                                                                                          

With love to you all



Let us pray:


Dear Father,

Quieten our minds,

Still our hearts,

For your living ways are all we seek.


Strengthen our lives,

Inspire our spirits,

In your living waters flow endless grace.




We say together:


Dear Lord and Father,

Thank you, that you promise us that where two or three are gathered together, you are there in the midst.                                                                                   Lord, we welcome You are amongst us today and celebrate the gift of life that you have lavished upon each of us.

We ask that You would open our ears so that we may hear your voice.

Open our minds that we may receive your eternal wisdom.

And open our hearts so that we may receive your wonderful love.

We ask this in the glorious name of Jesus.



Hymn: 461 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy


Prayer of Penitence


What God has prepared for those who love him, he has revealed to us through his Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything.                                                    Therefore, let us in penitence open our hearts to the Lord, who has prepared good things for those who love him.


Let us say together


Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,                                                      we confess that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed.        

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy, forgive what we have been;                                                                help us to amend what we are;

and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly,

love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God.




Let us pray our Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity


God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active service; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.  



Genesis 50. 15 - 21

Romans 14. 1 - 12


Hymn: 376 I heard the voice of Jesus say


Gospel: Matthew 18. 21 - 35

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. 

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’)


Peter 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?’                             Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, seventy-seven times.            

For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.

When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, 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.                                                                                                                  So, the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will pay everything.”                                                                     

And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

But 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 me what you owe.”                                           

Then his fellow-slave fell down, and pleaded with him,

“Have patience with me, and I will pay you.”

But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their Lord all that had taken place

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “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?”

And in his anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his whole debt.

So, my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’


(This is the Gospel of the Lord.    Praise to you, O Christ.)




Everyone, I suspect, is in favour of forgiveness, at least in principle.

C. S. Lewis writes, “Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until there is something to forgive.” What do we do then? What do we do when there is something to forgive?

 Sometimes there is an urge to strike back, seek revenge. Sometimes, it feels that one needs to run away from life and relationships. Sometimes, it seems that one is paralysed by darkness.                                                                        I don’t know about you, but I have to admit I have experienced all of these. I know how hard forgiveness can be. And yet, all of them leave us stuck in the past, tied to the ’evil’ of another, and bereft of the future God wants to give us.


Looking back in recent years, I now realise how my life has been so greatly affected by situations, events that have had a lasting and negative effect on me. Why? Partly because either, I didn’t realise the effect they were having; partly because there has always been that niggling feeling of injustice; and partly an anger at others for repeatedly ignoring a warning of a wrong and myself for not knowing how to right that wrong sooner.

Yes, there are stories behind all of these but, if only, I had been able to accept they’d happened, I couldn’t make them unhappen, but I could have forgiven those involved and myself and so lifted a weight that has followed me all my life.

Forgiveness is the only way forward. That doesn’t mean we forget, condone, or approve of what was done. It does not mean we ignore or excuse cruelty or injustice. It means we are freed from them. We let go of the thoughts and fantasies of revenge. We look to the future rather than the past. We try to see and love as God sees and loves.


We can learn so much from other religions.


There is a story about Buddha who was travelling from village to village teaching people about tolerance and forgiveness.

He said, ‘Anger is fire, which not only burns others but will burn oneself to ashes. So, renounce anger and be forgiving.’

An angry man stood up and shouted at Buddha. Buddha remained calm and continued teaching. This made the man angrier and angrier. Finally, after spitting at Buddha, the man left.

When the angry man got home, he began to calm down and to think about what he had said and done to Buddha. He started to regret what he had done. So, he immediately went back to where he had seen Buddha but he had moved on.

All night the man kept cursing himself.                                                                      Next day he went to the neighbouring village to look for Buddha. Finding him there, he went to him, grabbed his feet, and started apologising to him.

Buddha looked at him in amazement and asked, “Who are you? Why are you apologising to me? Get up.”

The man replied, “You don’t recognise me? I am the same person who misbehaved with you yesterday. What I did was wrong. I have come to ask you for your forgiveness.”

Buddha calmly said, “Brother, yesterday, you are talking about has passed. I have moved on leaving all the incidents and things of yesterday. Now I am present.

Why are you staying in yesterday? You have repented of what you did yesterday. Your heart has been purified. Now leave those things there and come in present and improve your present by doing good deeds. Why destroy your present by remembering past.”


I wish that I had read this long ago! There is so much in these words.


There are so many stories of acts of forgiveness.


‘An Iranian woman Samereh Alinejad gathered with hundreds of other people to see the execution of Balal who had murdered her 18 year old son, in a street feud. Just moments before the execution, the mother went towards Balal and slapped him across the face as she burst into tears. It was like all the rage in her heart vanished, and she asked for the noose to be removed from his neck.  Samereh made a last-minute decision to spare the life of her son’s murderer. Balal was pardoned.’


‘Mary Hedges was at a shopping mall with her son when two boys pushed a shopping trolley over a railing onto her, causing severe brain injury as well as blindness in one eye, and amputation of her right foot. Even though she suffered a coma and spent weeks fighting for her life, she was forgiving. “I wish them well, I do. I feel sorry for them. My son is 13 also, and he’s a very good boy.”’


There are many more stories – they all put me to shame. Would I have been so gracious and forgiving – I would like to think so – but I wonder.


God’s forgiveness and human forgiveness are totally related. Today’s Gospel reading shows this. The king forgives his slave an extraordinary amount. Ten thousand talents is about 3000 years of work at the ordinary daily wage. It seems there is no debt too large to be forgiven. This man, the debtor is forgiven. That’s what the kingdom of heaven is like. That’s how God is. The slave, however, refuses to forgive his fellow slave a debt of 100 denarii, about three months of work at the ordinary daily wage. Too often, that’s what our world is like. Frequently it’s how we are. In that refusal, the forgiven slave loses his forgiveness.

Let’s be honest, this is not new to us. We know it well. We acknowledge and pray it every Sunday and probably every day. ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ We pray those words with ease and familiarity, but do we live our prayer? Do our actions support our request? “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy- seven times.”

That’s a lot of forgiveness but the pain of our world, our nation, and individuals is great. We need to forgive as much, maybe more, for ourselves as for the one we forgive. Forgiving those who trespass against us is the salve that begins to heal our wounds. It may not change the one who hurt us, but our life will be more alive, more grace-filled, more whole, more God-like for having forgiven another.

Forgiveness creates space for new life. Forgiveness is an act of hopefulness and resurrection for the one who forgives. It’s the healing of our soul and life. Forgiveness takes us out of darkness into light, from death to life. It’s the refusal to let our future be determined by the past. It’s the letting go of the thoughts, the hatred, the fear that fills us so that we may live and love again.

So, how do we forgive? There is no easy road to forgiveness. Forgiving another takes time and work. It is something that we must practise every day. It begins with recognition and thanksgiving that we have been forgiven. We are the beneficiaries of the crucified one. Hanging between two thieves, he prayed, “Father, forgive them.” That is the cry of infinite forgiveness, a cry we are to echo in our own lives, in our own families, our work places, our parishes, our day-to-day life.

Forgiveness does not originate in us. It begins with God. That’s what the slave who refused to forgive doesn’t understand. It’s not about him. It’s about God. We do not choose to forgive. We only share the forgiveness we have already received. Then we choose again and again. For most of us, forgiveness is a process that we live into. Sometimes, however, we just can’t. The pain is too much, the wound too raw, the memories too real. On those days we choose to want to forgive. Some days we choose to want to want to forgive. Then there are those days that all we can do is choose to want to want to want to forgive. But we choose because that’s the choice Christ made.

How many times must we choose to forgive? Well, how many times have you been hurt and suffered by the actions or words of another? How many times has anger or fear controlled you? How many times has the thought of revenge filled you? How many times have you shuddered at the sight, the name, or the memory of another? How many times have you replayed in your head the argument with another? That’s how many times you choose. With each choosing we step closer to forgiveness. Then, one day, God willing, we will meet, victims and perpetrators, as one in the paradise of God the Father.



Affirmation of our faith


Let us declare our faith in God.


We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen


Hymn: 342 Breathe on me breath of God


Our Intercessions


Holy God, you have called us here today; and so, as we gather in your house and at home, we offer to you our prayers which come from our love for you and our love and concern for those we love and for the people of the world.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Father God, your Son, Jesus Christ, told us to forgive, not once, not seven times but seventy-seven times, meaning always, no matter how many times.

Father, we so often find it hard to forgive, quite forgetting just how many times we need forgiveness. Be with us each day as we try to live our lives caring for those around us, thinking about how what we say and do may adversely affect others before we act.                                                        May we be slow to judge and criticise but quick to forgive the faults of others as we would wish to be forgiven.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Creator God, we give you thanks for the wonder of your creation; for the amazing scenery around the world; for the beauty of Cornwall’s countryside, its moors, hills, and valleys, for its coastline and beaches, for its rivers and streams. We are so fortunate to live where we do and we give you, our thanks.

While your creation is magnificent it also holds hidden terrors – earthquakes, volcanos, the extremes of its weather, high temperatures, flooding, hurricanes, typhoons.        

We bring before you today the people of Morocco – particularly those in tiny communities up in the Atlas Mountains, still cut off from help, following the earthquake there.

We also bring before you the people of Libya experiencing immense floods and the failure of two dams.

May other countries around the world offer them the hand of friendship and support in helping to get aid to all who need it.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Father God, forgive us when we waste our lives by being too busy to enjoy your creation. Teach us how to make spaces in the day to do the things we most enjoy. Just as you rested from your work, help us to practise the discipline of recreation, and help us to become your hands and feet in our streets, so that our neighbours will one day ask us to tell them more about you.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Lord God, sadly, there is dissent in your Church. To be true followers of Christ, we need to be aware of the needs of all your people. Whilst we know that your Church must grow, and we need to bring in younger members of our communities, may those who have been faithful members for many years never be forgotten and their needs ignored.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Father God, we pray not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators of evil and violence in our world; for all governments including those which run on corruption and fear. We pray for a change of heart and attitude, an awakening to a better way of living, and the courage to reject wrong principles. May all governments work for the good of their peoples and not for their own gain.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Loving Lord, we bring before you all those who are suffering in any way; those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit; those for whom each day is a challenge; those for whom each day is now unbearable. Enfold them in your loving arms so that they know that they are not alone and that there is hope and love for the future.

We especially bring before you:

Ken and Diane, May, Terry and Dot, Margaret, Maureen, Pam and David, Brian, Rupert and Linda, Diana, Michael and Patricia, Rob and Alison, Stella, Alison, Callum, Jay, and Andy.

We also remember those who have no one to care or pray for them.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Mighty God, we remember in your presence all those who have died – bringing before you today all those who have died in the Moroccan earthquake, the Libyan floods and those who have died in the continuing war in Ukraine.                                                                                                              We particularly remember those we have known and loved. Thank you for them and thank you for your promise of eternal life and peace.                                                                                                                                Be close to those who are recently bereaved, strengthen them with the knowledge that you are always there to lean on and to carry them through difficult times.


Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us


Faithful God, at the start of this new week, help us to be an example to others and show us practical steps we need to take to develop consistency and integrity in all that we do in our lives.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. 



Gathering our prayers and praises into one,

Let us pray with confidence as our risen Lord 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,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.



To Forgive


To forgive

is not to forget.


To forgive

is really to remember

that nobody is perfect,

that each of us stumbles

when we want so much to stay upright;

that each of us says things

we wish we had never said;

that we can all forget that love

is more important than being right.


To forgive

is really to remember

that we are so much more

than our mistakes;

that we are often more kind and caring;

that accepting another’s flaws

can help us accept our own.


To forgive

is to remember

that the odds are pretty good that

we might soon need to be forgiven ourselves.

That life sometimes gives us more

than we can handle gracefully.


To forgive

is to remember

that we have room in our hearts to


Begin again … And again.


Prayer of Peace


God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.


The peace of the Lord be always with you


Let us greet one another as a sign of God’s peace.


Hymn: 443 Rejoice the Lord is King (Repeat verse 1 after verse 4)




May the Father’s hand

keep you from stumbling,

the footprints of Jesus

give you confidence to follow,

and the fire of the Spirit

keep you warm and safe

in your walk with God this day.
















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