Ardoch Parish Church

Sunday 13th September 2020

Download a pdf copy of the Order of service:
13th September Order of Service

Welcome to our Service of Worship and First Hymn

Hymn: Blessed be your Name

Words and music by Beth Redman, Matt Redman

Mairi leads us in prayer

Let us pray

Ever-living God, Creator and Sustainer of all that we perceive,

guide us always towards peace, hope, and the promise of a new way of life in your church,

a community united in love of you and each other.

As we move through the seasons of the year,

as we wait for the landscape to change,

we are shown the beauty of our world.

We give thanks, and we pray

for the wisdom to listen to experts,

to see the impact we have on your

awesome creation, that we might

unify and makes changes now,

for the generations to come.

As our world continues to grapple with the

unimaginable loss and pain experienced

by hundreds of thousands of families,

we pray, individually and as a church

for compassion and the ability

to comfort, support,

and to have patience and empathy in the

grief of others no matter how it

is manifest or how long it lasts.

As our church seeks its own way forward

in a changed and changing world,

we pray for strength

to build on what is good,

to prune what is dead,

and to find new ways to

unite in our mission to

spread your love to the world around us.

As inequality, fear, and hate

continue to plague our society,

we pray for the boldness

to stand up to the evils of this world,

to live the new life promised and

given through our saviour Jesus,

to turn from inaction to action,

and to work for justice for all

as one body of Christ,

in the full knowledge and confidence

that you are with us now and forever.


Lord’s Prayer

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever.



Our reader this morning is Irene Robertson.  She is reading from Matthew 18: 21-35

 Irene’s chosen Hymn is John Wesley’s ” And can it be”

“How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”

Jesus answered Peter, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

When we were in primary school we were taught that verbs are doing words. Forgiveness is very much a verb, forgiveness requires actions

Forgiveness, for Jesus, is not something to be measured. It is a quality; a way of being, a way of living, a way of loving, a way of relating, a way of thinking and seeing.

When we look at it like that it is nothing less than the way of Christ. So if we are to follow Christ then it must become our way as well. “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

Does that mean the murderer?  The cheating partner?  The underhand businessman?  The racist? . The rapist?  The bully? . The abuser?   the terrorist?…. Yes, yes it does

I would imagine every one hearing this today would be in  favour of forgiveness, at least they would be in principle and I  think that C S Lewis sums it up very well for us in his book Mere Christianity page 115 when he writes “Every one, says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until there is something to forgive”  How very true indeed because the act of forgiveness can be a long , difficult and painful road to travel.

So what is it that we do ? What do we do when there is something to forgive?

Some people will look for revenge. Some will just turn and run away from life and relationships. Some will let the pain destroy them. I don’t say that out of criticism or judgment because I know how hard forgiveness can be. We all struggle with it and we often avoid it. I know because I have been there but I am also fully aware  that none of those answers are the way of Christ. All of these ways will simply leave us stuck in the past, tied to the evil of another, and empty and distant from the future that God wants to give us.

Forgiveness is the only way forward.

That does not mean we forget, condone, or approve of what was done.

It does not mean we ignore or excuse cruelty or injustice.

What  It  does means is that we are released from them. We let go of the thoughts that cause us pain and lock us in the past.. We look to the future rather than the past. We try to see and love as God sees and loves. Forgiveness is a way in which we bring  our life in line with God’s life. Ultimately if we do not forgive  what we are doing is putting  ourselves in the place of God, the ultimate judge to whom all are accountable (Ro. 14:10, 12).

This should not be news to us. We know it well. We acknowledge and pray it every Sunday and I’ll bet most of you pray it everyday. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We pray those words so easily, but do we live  out our prayer? Do our actions support our request? “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

When we forgive we create space for new life. Forgiveness is an act of hopefulness and resurrection for the one who forgives. It is the healing  process  for  our damaged soul and life. When we forgive we no longer stand in the darkness we allow the light to break through. Forgiveness releases us from the evil power of another. When we forgive we refuse to let our future be determined by the past. When we forgive we let go of the thoughts, the hatred, the fear that fill us and we begin to live and love again.

There is no easy road to forgiveness, no gentle paths, no short cuts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is something we must practice every day. It begins with recognition and thanksgiving that we ourselves have been forgiven by the cross of Christ.  Hanging between two thieves he prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Lk. 23:34). Those are the anguished words of infinite forgiveness, and it must be our cry also in our own lives, in our families, our work places, our parishes, our day to day life.

Forgiveness has never begun in us. Forgiveness begins with God. That’s what the slave in our gospel reading today who refused to forgive didn’t understand.

It was not about him.

It’s about God.

We do not choose to forgive. We only choose to share the forgiveness we have already  received from the cross.


Our closing hymn is : Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine