Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm 103:1 – 13
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35
Connie and I will be traveling with my brother and his wife on a cruise out of London starting
next Thursday. The last time we traveled to Europe was to build a house for Habitat for
Humanity in Portugal. On that overseas flight I had a hard time sleeping and watched all three
Godfather movies in order. As I studied the texts for Sunday, I was reminded of the scene in
Godfather II when Michael Corleone has his brother Fredo killed. Fredo had betrayed him, but
Michael allowed him to continue to live as long as their mother is alive. Once she died, Fredo
was taken out on a boat in Lake Tahoe to go fishing, but instead was shot and dumped in the
water to be with the fishes. At the end of Godfather III, Michael dies alone, falling off his chair.
The third movie in the series died a bit sooner than that.
As a contrast, the story of Joseph in Genesis 50 has a different ending. Joseph’s brothers had
sold him into slavery and told him their father was dead. Later famine caused them to be
reunited in Egypt, where Joseph is second in command. They are beholden to him in their life
there. When their father Jacob dies, they worry that Joseph will come for them. The brothers
tell Joseph that their father requested mercy. Joseph weeps with his brothers and tells them
to have no fear; “I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” Joseph’s forgiving heart
preserves his family. He lives to 110 and his bones are carried back by a loving extended family
to be buried back in Israel near Shechem.
What a difference in attitude and outcome. What motivates Joseph to speak so kindly to his
brothers? Why is his life so reverenced? He explains: The brothers intended to harm Joseph,
but God intended it for good.
In this reading and in all the readings for Sunday we are offered motivators for forgiveness.
This story from Genesis can motivate us. Though people do disappoint us at times. They may
even intend to harm us as Joseph’s brothers did. What separated Joseph from Michael was
Joseph believed and experienced that God can use evil for good. If we draw on that faith, we
too can have a gentler, more forgiving heart.
The second motivator is to remember that our sins are forgiven. Jesus tells a parable in
Matthew 18 about a slave who is forgiven billions of dollars. He should be dancing down the
court steps. Instead of rejoicing over being relieved of this huge debt, he sees a former friend
who owes him around $20. “Taking him by the throat” he demands immediate repayment.
When he is not able to pay, he has him thrown into prison. When he learns of the slave’s
actions, the master’s disappointment is realized in the large debt being reinstated. Jesus is
telling the disciples: Remember Your Sins are Forgiven.
Paul in Romans 14 suggests a third motivator. We are not all meant to be the same. We are
meant to be different. God welcomes all. In this case, Paul sees those who eat anything and
those who eat just vegetables. “We do not live for ourselves, and do not die to ourselves…We
live to the Lord.” Suffocating sameness is not what the Lord of a very diverse Universe is after.
We can allow ourselves to be puffed up thinking we always know better. Paul lived that life for
a while. It led him to persecute the church of Christ. God finally knocked him off his high horse
on the road to Damascus. Let us not end up like Michael Corleone, falling off our “high” chair
alone. Leave room for God to be the judge. We are “accountable to God.”
A fourth motivator is to remember with Psalm 103 all the blessings of God. Dave Strack’s
birthday is September 11. Happy Birthday! He unfortunately shares that date with the
terrorist attack on our country now 22 years ago. In that case we sought to bring judgement to
the perpetrators which was not a straight path, bringing detours into Afghanistan and Iraq. In
the end Osama bin Laden’s body was buried at sea.
There are dark moments in our lives and in the life of our country and of the world. Moments
which need resolution. As we deal with evil around us let us be motivated by Jesus’ example
and the examples of scripture. Let us:
1. Know that God can use evil for good and try to discover a path forward.
2. Remember that we need forgiveness ourselves at times.
3. Allow God to be the final Judge.
4. Do not lose sight of the blessings of God, even as we seek justice.
Bonnie Strack was not losing sight of the blessings of God when she shared with me seven
wishes for Dave on his 80th birthday:
I hope you have a day that is filled with happiness, laughter, and love.
I hope you enjoy every moment of your birthday and that you feel like you’re living life to the
I hope you remain healthy and strong throughout your years and that you are able to help
others in need.
I hope you can find peace and tranquility in your life and that you are able to share that with
I hope you’re able to achieve all your goals and dreams and that you are to be happy with
where you are in life.
I hope that you can stay positive and optimistic through tough times that you’re able to help
others when they need it.
I hope that you will live long and happy life and that you are able to share your wisdom and
experience with others. I’m so grateful to have you as my husband and I wish you all the best
on your special day.
Prayer: Lord, we remember 9/11 in a world that can mean us harm. Help us, as we are able, to
bring justice along with forgiveness into the world. May we seek to turn the evil done to us
into a path forward. May we remember our own need for forgiveness. May we remember
your blessings, allowing you to be the final Judge.
Grace and Peace,

Pastor John

Choir – We had a nice start to our choir and will be singing this coming Sunday. We hope to
sing every other week. Join us for practice at 9:00 am ahead of worship.
Adult Class – We are hoping to offer a weekly adult class this fall. Interested? Let Pastor John
know at Several have responded. Steve Cady will be leading the first
Central City Lutheran Mission – We raised $2,500 with a matching grant. We are hoping to
match that again through the LSS Gala at the Mission Inn in Riverside, Oct 7 starting @ 5 pm.
So far, the Pastor, Connie, Eric and Michelle Bunge, Steve and Sharon Cady, Jacque Kottmeier,
Elaine Risso will be joining our table. Interested? Let Pastor John know at We need two more to have a full table. Cost: $150/person.
Next Pantry – September 23. Good News with the help of a Thrivent Action Team Joe and
Carol will be going out refrigerator shopping for the Pantry. The old power-eater freezer will
be replaced. $350 came in and a Thrivent matching grant added $500. Still want to make
donation to the pantry? Make your check payable to Faith Lutheran and marked “Pantry”.
WELCA – Women’s Bible Study, seven were there on September 2. The next study will be
Saturday October 7 at 9:30 a.m. Join us in the Fireside Room.
LAUREN SCHAFER our Office Assistant’s hours this week. 12:30-3:00 M – Th.
Pastor will be in the office Wednesday and Thursday September 18 and 19. Then out of the
office until October 6.
QUILTING – Each Tuesday beginning at 9 am. 15 quilts were presented to CCLM’s homeless
men they are working on more.
Confirmation clases September 17 then skip a couple of weeks for Pastor’s vacation then
resume October 8, 15, 22 and 29. Confirmation service for Elisha and Russell will November 12
so we can have Bishop Nagler with us.
• What a great Luau at the Kim & Cesar’s home – the décor, food, fellowship, time in the pool
were wonderful.
• erwin has been with us in church and appreciates our continued prayer for Lynda.
• Kyle and Dana would appreciate prayers for their son, Kevin’s, Mother-in-Law, Lisa, suffering
from cancer.
• The Koenig Family – Jeanne who is undergoing diagnosis and treatments for complications
from accumulating spinal fluid which is affecting her eyesight, speech, and motor skills. She
also in considerable pain from the swelling in her head. Joe is awaiting kidney surgery, which
will be on October 16. Daughter, Jessica’s leukemia is being managed, but leaves her tired. We
are also praying for Lucas.
• Cesar and Kim would also appreciate prayers for their sons, Tim, and Kyle. Cesar’s Sister Maria
also had a lump removed from her neck and the biopsy came back non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
She starts radiation soon.
• The Sheas would appreciate prayers for Rebecca and Chris Herandez in need of housing for
themselves and the twins.
• The Cady’s would appreciate prayers for their daughter’s friend, Brooke, who suffered a stroke
and is still unresponsive.
• Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack.
Sept. 17 – COOKIES & CONVERSATION. Want to bring cookies?
Let Connie know. Thx.
Sept. 24 – POTLUCK – Last Names ending in A-G to bring a dish of choice.
Drinks will be provided.
(Other last names are scheduled later.)
Oct. 1 – GAME DAY – Bunco
Oct. 8 – WELCA
Oct. 22 – CHILI COOK OFF – prizes for the top 3 Chilis!