Worship in the Home: September 13, 2020

Posted on September 8, 2020 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Lectionary 24
September 13, 2020



In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While you cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this brief resource as an aid for prayer in the home. As with our prayers in the gathered assembly for worship, you are encouraged to prepare or adapt them locally for your context.

Find a peaceful place to pray, perhaps a table. You may wish to light a candle near where you pray. One person may lead in this acclamation and then pray the Prayer of the Day.

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

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

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.


Then the readings for this Sunday may be read, as follows:

First Reading:  Genesis 50:15-21

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 God is doing today. 21So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way Joseph reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


The Psalm may be sung or read in response to the First Reading.

Psalm 103:1-13

1Bless the LORD, | O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless God’s | holy name.
2Bless the LORD, | O my soul,
and forget not | all God’s benefits—
3who forgives | all your sins
and heals all | your diseases;
4who redeems your life | from the grave
and crowns you with steadfast | love and mercy;
5who satisfies your desires | with good things
so that your youth is renewed | like an eagle’s.
6O LORD, you provide | vindication
and justice for all who | are oppressed.
7You made known your | ways to Moses
and your works to the chil- | dren of Israel.
8 LORD, you are full of compas- | sion and mercy,
slow to anger and abounding in | steadfast love;
9you will not al- | ways accuse us,
nor will you keep your an- | ger forever.
10You have not dealt with us according | to our sins,
nor repaid us according to | our iniquities.
11For as the heavens are high a- | bove the earth,
so great is your steadfast love for | those who fear you.
12As far as the east is | from the west,
so far have you removed our transgres- | sions from us.
13As a father has compassion | for his children,
so you have compassion for those who fear | you, O LORD.


Second Reading: Romans 14:1-12

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. 8 If 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. 9 For 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.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

The holy gospel according to Matthew.
Glory to you, O Lord.

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.



Having read these readings, think of this:

The readings accuse us: like Joseph’s brothers, we are afraid of people we have betrayed. Like Paul’s readers, we often argue with each other about issues that do not matter. Like Peter in Matthew, we want to limit our forgiveness of others. But One who is greater than Joseph is here. Jesus Christ was thrown into a deeper pit than Joseph when he was taken to the cross. Yet, in the resurrection he has become an even greater source of forgiveness and bread. Like the fictional king of the parable, God in Christ has forgiven us — each one of us — an impossible debt: 10,000 talents being something like 150,000 years of salary for a skilled worker. Strengthened by that forgiveness, poured over us today by the Spirit alive in this word, we are enabled again and again to forgive our neighbor whose debt to us, by comparison, is like only a few weeks of salary. Renewed in this mercy, we will live and die to the Lord.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 605), “O Christ, Our Hope” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 604). Links to hymns in the public domain are provided below.

O Christ, Our Hope


Then pray these intercessions:

Drawn together in the compassion of God, we pray for the church, the world, and all those in need, responding to each petition with the words “receive our prayer.”

God of open arms, make Christians into signs of your gracious welcome, to both members and newcomers, whether meeting physically or digitally. Strengthen faith through Bible studies and Sunday schools, confirmation classes and youth ministries, and nurture new ventures for education and growth. Bless bishops, pastors, and deacons for their work in this unprecedented time.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

God of lands and seas, continue your care for your creation. Where human selfishness has brought ruin and destruction, we ask you to heal and renew your earth. Preserve the lands from fire and storm. Protect the sources of food that your creatures need for life.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

God of justice, lead the nations away from the ways of violence. Guide the United Nations and other organizations that seek reconciliation across national borders. Show families, neighborhoods, and nations how to welcome diversity while sharing common ground. Preserve our election season from abuse and rancor.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

God of our homeland, visit the American cities that are addressing local racism. Stand with both protesters and police, that civil society may be preserved and improved. Bring both healing and justice to our land.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

God of the sufferers, visit prisons and care homes with health and hope. Free victims of human trafficking and forced labor. Deliver all who are bound by debt. Feed all who hunger and provide safety to migrants. Protect firefighters and first responders. Heal the sick, especially those we name here before you:

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

God of goodness, once more we beg for a way through the pandemic. Comfort the afflicted. Support medical workers. Prepare a vaccine.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

God of tender power, we live to you. Hear now, we pray, the desires of our hearts.

A longer period of silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

Whether we live or whether we die, we are yours. We thank you for those who have led us in the faith, especially those we commemorate this week: John Chrysostom, bishop Cyprian, Hildegard of Bingen, and Dag Hammarskjöld. Hold us with them in your everlasting love.

A brief silence.

O God, you are full of compassion;
receive our prayer.

All these things and whatever else you see that we need, we entrust to your mercy; through Christ, our Savior and Lord.


If you have a hymnal, you might now sing or read “When We Are Living” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 639); “In Thee Is Gladness” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 867). Links to hymns in the public domain are provided below.

In Thee Is Gladness


Then conclude with these prayers:

Let us pray.

A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

We thank you, O God, for your life-giving Word,
for calling creation into being,
declaring forgiveness from the cross,
and delivering the spirit of rebirth.
We praise you, O God, for your Word:
we praise you, O God, for your Word.

Your word is a lamp lighting our path,
a mirror reflecting our selves,
a shield providing us refuge,
a fire burning for justice and truth.
Your word is sweeter than honey:
it nourishes our bodies like milk,
it sustains your people like bread.
We receive your promises, more treasured than gold.
We bless you, O God, for your Word:
we bless you, O God, for your Word.

Open our ears to your prophets, apostles, and saints,
and to all the cries of the needy.
Breathe into your church the mighty Spirit of Christ,
that heeding your voice of beauty and power
we are strengthened to serve wherever we are called.

To you, Father, Son, and Spirit – the Source, Word, and Breath —
we offer our thanks for your life-giving Word:
we offer our thanks for your life-giving Word.



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

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever


Then speak the Blessing:

Mothering God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
bless you and lead you into the way of truth and life.


Devotional Music Links: For your individual or group devotion, you may choose to listen to the following choral recordings made available through Augsburg Fortress: “Bless God’s Holy Name;” “I Come with Joy;” “Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive.”


Readings for the Week:
Monday (Holy Cross Day) John 3:13-17. Tuesday Romans 14:13—15:2. Wednesday (commemoration of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, martyr, died around 258)) Genesis 50:22-26. Thursday (commemoration of Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, died 1179) Psalm 145:1-8. Friday (commemoration of Dag Hammarskjöld, renewer of society, died 1961) 2 Corinthians 13:5-10. Saturday Zephaniah 2:13-15. Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost Jonah 3:10—4:11; Psalm 145:1-8; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16.

Daily Prayer Resources are available, including simple forms of Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer; Responsive Prayer; and prayers for mealtimes and other occasions.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are only able to provide downloadable hymns that are in the public domain. Other suggestions provided above may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. To purchase a copy of Evangelical Lutheran Worship for the home, visit the Augsburg Fortress website or call 1-800-328-4648.

Reflection text: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship and sundaysandseasons.com, © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress.

Readings from Readings for the Assembly © 1995, 1996, 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Citations from the Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. Scripture quotations from NRSV Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted and edited with permission by Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw.


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