Sun 18/10/20

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1

A Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity
Matthew 22: 15 – 22

 

I had an e-mail this week from someone telling me that during an illness they had had a vision from God telling them to become a vicar.  They seemed to think this was an instant process and a done deal.  It was a relief that they lived many miles from here and I could reply suggesting they speak to their own vicar! As we have learned from those who have been on placement in these parishes as they’ve explored the possibility of ordination, and as we are learning now from Jim as he completes his ordination training with us, discernment is a long process. One of my persistent memories of my own journey through discernment is the frustration of answering the simple question: “Why do you think God is calling you to be ordained?”  Answer too enthusiastically and I could give the impression I saw myself as God’s answer to the Church of England.  Answer too tentatively, and my commitment might be questioned.  Sometimes, it feels as if we are being asked questions to which there is only a wrong answer.  Which is exactly the situation Jesus finds himself in as he has yet another run-in with the J'ewish religious leaders during the week leading up to his crucifixion.  As we have heard over the last three weeks, Jesus has just told the Pharisees 3 parables.  The Parable of the Two Sons, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants and the Parable of the Wedding Feast have forcefully pointed out that the Pharisees and the Sadducees’ devotion to the Law is no guarantee of entry into heaven.  It is hardly surprising then, that the Pharisees are trying to get Jesus to say something which gives a reason to put him on trial.   And so they ask if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar.  It was a very real question for the Pharisees.  They understood Israel to be under God’s rule.  Yet the Roman Government seemed to be ruling them; forcing them pay not just a Poll tax, but additional taxes on agricultural production as well.  This placed a heavy burden on the Jews.  Few people enjoy paying taxes.  It is many times worse when the tax is demanded by an oppressive government.  Worse still for the Pharisees, was the graven image of Caesar on the state-produced coins.  Using coins forced the law-abiding Pharisees to break the second commandment which forbid graven images and idol worship.  Jesus is in a tricky situation.  Support the paying of taxes, he will be seen as unpatriotic and religiously offensive.  Oppose it, and he will be seen as a political trouble maker and a rebel.  Either way, the Pharisees have their man.  Except that Jesus has the wisdom of God.  He sees through their plot and answers carefully.  The State minted the coin, which has Caesar’s image on it.  It belongs to Caesar, and the State needs it to carry out the work which will keep the country running.  There is nothing wrong with returning Caesar’s money to the State.   But God should also receive his due.  The State asked only a proportion (usually one day’s wages per year).  God deserves everything.  The only response to God’s generous love, is to offer 100% of our worship, love and service to him.  Jesus’ point is clear.  Unless the State goes in a direction which is opposed to God’s way, we have a duty to be obedient citizens.  We have a duty to pay taxes honestly and readily, or to keep the advice and laws around COVID restrictions, for example.  At the same time, we belong to God, and are created to his image.  Our lives and our loyalty belong to God, not to the State, and it is God we are called to worship.  The state has rights and powers.  But, St Paul tells us, those powers are given to the State by God who has power over everything in heaven and on earth.  If there is a conflict between the ways of God and the ways of the State, as Christians we must choose the way of God.  Just as many Christians down the ages and in our own day have done.  If the State introduces or supports policies which abuse the God-given rights of its citizens, or demands worship which replaces the worship of God we have no choice.  We must choose God’s way. Until then we have a duty to be model citizens.  Paying our duty to the State, whilst never forgetting that God has the ultimate authority over us.  Ultimately, we bear God’s image and belong to Him.

 

Amen. 

 

Prayers for the 18 October 2020

 

The Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity

Faithful Lord,

whose steadfast love never ceases

and whose mercies never come to an end:

grant us the grace to trust you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

The Post Communion Prayer 

Holy and blessed God,

you have fed us with the body and blood of your Son

and filled us with your Holy Spirit:

may we honour you

not only with our lips

but in our lives dedicated to the service

of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,

let us pray to the Father.

 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,

you promised through your Son Jesus Christ,

to hear us when we pray in faith.

 

Strengthen Mark and Keith our Bishops and all your Church in the service of Christ,

that those who confess your name may be united in your truth,

live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

 

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen: give wisdom to all in authority;

and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace;

that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.

 

Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours,

that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.

 

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit…;

give them courage and hope in their troubles;

and bring them the joy of your salvation.

 

Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ…;

according to your promises,

grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.

 

Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints,

we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.

 

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers 

for the sake of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.  


Amen


Hymns

 

Let all the world in every corner sing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfXldoDnvq4

The Kingdom of God is justice and joy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqCOqgQhFyo

Name of all majesty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUeNwAVMHEA

We have a gospel to proclaim https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-SPYAgCtkw&t=37s