This week's Order of Service
18 October 2020 10.45-11.15 Morning Worship led by Revd Mike Perrott on Zoom
Before opening the Zoom link, we will sing
Opening Hymn: Will you come and follow me? [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnXOEUS7BBM ]
If possible, you are invited to join the Zoom service. At 10.35am we join for a short social period; the service will start at 10.45am. Please click HERE to join the Zoom service, the Zoom Meeting ID is 896 5463 0109 and the Password is Heisalive.
Opening prayer, we say together
Living God, you call us to gather together in your name. We come to worship and give you praise – young or old, rich or poor; sad or happy, burdened or free – as valued beings created in your image. Help us to see you more clearly.
Inspiring God, we pray for grace to enjoy the blessings of your world; for discernment to know when to speak out for the values of your kingdom; for wisdom to know when compromise is the most fruitful way; for courage when we must make a stand, and at all times we pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire and empower us, in Jesus’ name.
When we fail to recognise your authority, O Lord, forgive us for not looking to you. When we are angry and we turn to you for answers, forgive us for not thinking of you first. When we seek signs and look to you for proof, forgive our lack of trust in your everlasting presence. When we turn to other influences, forgive our lack of confidence in you.
Mysterious God, ever-present within each person, ever-present around us, fill us with love, so that we can be conscious of your presence always. Help us to love you and learn from you, so that your words fill our minds, hearts and souls, and become the inspiration for all that we do. The face of Jesus your Son, powerful yet loving, looks upon us, his words open to our prayer: may they become the root of all we say and do. O God, the all-powerful, the all-loving, be our wisdom, we pray.
Loving God, we often fail to see you in each other. Help us to remember that we are all made in your image. Thank you for Jesus, your living image, who shows us how to live life to the full. May each of us be all that you intended us to be, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer together
We share the Grace
Gospel reading: Matthew 22:15-22
In our short reading from Matthew’s Gospel for this morning, we hear how, in their ongoing attempts to trick Jesus into saying or doing something they could arrest him for, the Pharisees (in the company of the Herodians) ask Jesus a trick question, “what do you think, is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” Like in the best of murder mysteries of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, we need to apply our ‘little grey cells’ to fully understand what is going on here and, most importantly, what it means for us today.
First, we need to know that the question the Pharisees pose to Jesus is a trick question – it is a no-win situation because the Pharisees believed it wasn’t lawful, the Herodians believed it was. So, whether Jesus answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question, he would have angered one side or the other, and given them evidence against him. As clever as the Pharisees thought they were in asking this trick question, Jesus is smarter - he sees through their scheming, and asks them a question in return.
But first, “Show me a coin used for paying the taxes” Jesus responds. Now, what coin would that be? It would be a Denarius, a silver coin, one of which would be a day’s pay for a labourer.
So, this was something like the coin that they would have shown Jesus. It would bear the image of Emperor Tiberius Caesar, and bear the inscription Tiberius Caesar, Son of the Divine Augustus” (remember, the Romans believed their emperors were gods).
“Whose face and name are these?” Jesus now asks. “The emperor’s” the Pharisees answer. Now doesn’t it strike you as being strange that good Jewish people are carrying such a coin? Remember the second of the ten commandments about not making images, and not worshiping idols? What then are the Pharisees doing carrying an image of an emperor who was considered to be a god – it was against Jewish Law!
Now comes Jesus’ closing response, the response that sends those who would trick him away amazed, speechless and, no doubt, with much food for thought: “Pay the emperor what is due to the emperor, and pay God what is due to God.”
We are close to unravelling this mystery now, about what this encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees was about. But, as Poirot might say, there is one more clue to solve before we can understand what it might mean for us today. And that clue is in the last response of Jesus as he asks whose face it is on the coin.
In Biblical Greek, it is the same word for ‘face’ and ‘image’ – ikon. When we look at the reflection of our face in a mirror, whose image do we see? When we look at the faces of other people, when we look at the diversity of all human beings, whose image do we see? These are not trick questions! For remember that, deep down, at some level, at a depth of being, every human being is created in the image of God: God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them. God blessed them. (Genesis 1:27-28a). So, when we look at one another, at any human being, we glimpse in some deeply spiritual way the image of God.
That is a way of understanding that encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees and Herodians and the strange exchange of questions, especially Jesus’ last response about giving to God what is due to God based upon whose image we see. Because, when it comes down to it, all people, every person (including Caesar!) is created in the image of God and so, invisibly perhaps, but none the less, every person bears God’s image – thus everyone owes everything to God!
Yes, everyone owes everything to God, because we all bear God’s image – that’s the image we see. But how do we pay what is due to God? Most importantly we have the greatest commandment: to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls – and to love one another as we love ourselves. Amen
Intercessions (response in bold)
Compassionate God, it is not your will that some should be starving and others over-full, that some should have too much, and others nothing, that some should suffer and be sad, for all people should experience the depth of freedom brought by faith; and we all long for your Kingdom of Justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit to come; and so, we pray: Our Father in heaven, let your kingdom come.
Where there is utter poverty, desperate misery, and terrible unfairness; where people suffer due to man-made and natural disaster: Our Father in heaven, let your kingdom come.
Where there is sadness and tears, where grief is fresh and people mourn: Our Father in heaven, let your kingdom come.
Where there is sickness and pain, where depression and illness rule: Our Father in heaven, let your kingdom come.
Where we fail to be the people you long us to be: Our Father in heaven, let your kingdom come.
Silent prayer, for the world, the church and for those known to us we are concerned about and with whom we celebrate. Amen
Closing Prayer, we pray together:
Living God, you have chosen us to live out your Gospel in our lives, in word and deed. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the power to influence our world; your Word gives us the authority to speak out against injustice. Thank you for your steadfast love empowering us to show your face to our world. May our lives reflect the hope we have for our church and community as we leave today.
Please close the Zoom link, then we will sing our final hymn.
Closing Hymn: In Christ there is no east or west [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRFm78inK44 ]