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Rekindle-Getting Fired Up for a New Year continues with one of the greatest needs of our lives and society.  It is a simple word, but it carries great power to help us if we would do it routinely.  Do you have any idea what this could be?  The word is “forgive.” It is also the title of the sermon for this week.  What if 2020 had been the year of forgiveness and reconciliation?  It would have been an entirely different experience.  What if we had been encouraged to let go of the hurt and division in our society, and turn the other cheek?  This would have reduced our stress, saved lives, and prevented property destruction.  Forgiveness does not mean that we ignore the wrong as if nothing has happened.  Genuine forgiveness deals with the problems, brings about justice for all, and seeks to move forward in greater love.  This sounds like a dream!  We turn to Matthew 18:21-35.  Peter asks Jesus a simple question: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Peter thought he was being generous because many rabbis taught that God has a “three strikes and you are out” policy! Can you imagine Peter’s surprise at Jesus’s response!  This passage teaches us about genuine forgiveness that can lead us to hope and new life.  As you read Matthew 18:21-35, may you be filled with God’s compassion and care which will lead you to forgive others. Matthew 18:21-35: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back. 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (NIV)