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September 2020

Giving Up the Grudge

Year A – RCL – Proper 19

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35

Once upon a time, there was a pack rat who had a large collection. He guarded his collection carefully. It had taken him a long time to build up this collection… years and years of adding to it until it was the biggest collection of its kind for miles around.


The trouble was, this was not a good kind of collection. It was not colorful marbles, or interesting buttons, or even stamps from around the world. This rat collected grudges. He wrote down on pieces of paper, the things that hurt him and the people who had hurt him. He kept every single note and read them over and over again, and he held a grudge against each one of those animals. He remembered how Scott the Skunk had accidentally sprayed him. He remembered how Suzy Squirrel had woken him up by dropping a nut on his head. He remembered tripping over that big lazy garter snake napping on the path. He had skinned his knee because of that snake. He held lots of grudges, so everyone called him “Grudge the Rat.” 

Grudge was not a happy rat. His collection did not make him happy. It made him mean and suspicious, because a grudge is not a good thing to collect. A grudge is the feeling of holding onto some past hurt or insult and never letting it go; never forgiving the person who hurt you. A grudge is refusing to forgive.

Forgiveness is a very important thing. Sometimes it is the only thing that can heal us or make us truly happy and content. Forgiveness is so important, that Jesus tells us we need to keep on forgiving, as many times as possible. His disciple, Peter, once asked Jesus how many times he would have to forgive a member of his congregation. He wondered if seven times was enough? Jesus said, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Back then in that part of the world, the number seven meant complete or total or the most ever. The number that Jesus said, “Seventy-seven,” really meant that you should keep forgiving and not keep track. Jesus knew that forgiveness does not only help the person who did something wrong to you, but it also helps you heal and let go of the hurt and become happy again. 

Back to Grudge the Rat. He was not happy because he would not forgive and would not forget every little thing that anyone had ever done to him that made him mad or sad. He would not forgive. Finally, the one friend that he had left, tried to help him. “Grudge,” he said, “your collection is only making you feel sad. You need to let it go and be happy. Just try it and see what happens.” So Grudge the Rat, with the help of his one faithful and patient friend, began to throw his grudges away and forgive all the little things that had made him mad. And, sure enough, he began to feel better and better. Soon all of his grudges were gone. And he had to find a new name. His new friends are helping to find one for him. Maybe you have a good idea for a new name? (Children can share their ideas for renaming Grudge the Rat.)

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, you forgive us for all of our sins and we are thankful. Help us to forgive others. Help us to let go of any grudges that we have collected. Thank you for helping us to be content and happy and full of your love. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

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