Weekly Church Service – Fourth Sunday of Advent: 20 December 2020


Sentence

This child will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:32-33


Collect

Gracious God,

whose eternal Word took flesh among us

when Mary placed her life at the service of your will:

prepare our hearts for his coming again

and keep us steadfast in hope,

that we may ready for the coming of his kingdom;

for his sake, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Psalm 89:1-4, 19-27
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

next week

  • Isaiah 61:10-62:3
  • Psalm 148
  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • Luke 2:22-40

A Thought to Ponder

Advent 4 Luke 1:26-38

“Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you . . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

Today’s Gospel on this Sunday before Christmas is Luke’s account of the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary. The Annunciation story is filled with First Testament imagery (e.g. the announcement by the angel parallels the announcements of the births of many key figures in salvation history, such as Isaac and Samuel; the “overshadowing” of Mary recalls the cloud of glory covering the tent of the ark and temple in Jerusalem). Mary’s “yes” to Gabriel’s words set the stage for the greatest event in human history: God’s becoming human.

In today’s Gospel, God begins the “Christ event” with Mary, a simple Jewish girl who is at the very bottom of her people’s social ladder; the God who created all things makes the fulfillment of his promise dependent upon one of the most dispossessed and powerless of his creatures. Yet God exalts her humility, her simplicity, her trust in his love and mercy. God’s “favour” belongs the poor, the rejected, the abandoned and the forgotten among us today. 

In his becoming human in the Son of Mary, God enters human history to show us how to live God-like, grace-filled, holy lives of compassion, forgiveness and justice in our time and place in that history.

In the Advents of our lives, God calls us to bring his Christ into our own time and place; may we respond with the faith and trust of Mary, putting aside our own doubts and fears to say I am your servant, O God. Be it done.  

The mystery of the Incarnation is relived every time we echo Mary’s “yes” to God’s call to bring his Christ into our world, when we accept, as did Mary, God’s asking us to make the Gospel Jesus alive in our own time and place. 

Mary’s life is pretty much laid out before her by her family and culture — simple, hidden and uncomplicated. But God interrupts her pre-ordered life, entrusting her with bringing his Christ to birth. God interrupts our own well-ordered and focused lives, as well, to bring his Word and Light to birth in our hearts and homes; God’s messenger Gabriel appears to us in the needs of our children, the struggles of family and friends, the cries of the poor, the despair of the lost and marginalised.    

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Sermon

  •     Advent 4 B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Advent-4-B

Weekly Church Service – Third Sunday of Advent: 13 December 2020


Sentence

Bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, the day of vengeance of our God.  Isaiah 61:1-2


Collect

Eternal God,

you sent John the Baptist

to prepare the way for the coming of your Son:

grant us wisdom to see your purpose

and openness to hear your will,

that we too may prepare the way for Christ

who is coming in power and glory

to establish his rule of peace and justice;

through Jesus Christ our Judge and our Redeemer

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • Song of Mary
  • 1 Thess 5:12-28
  • John 1:6-8, 19-28

next week

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Psalm 89:1-4, 19-27
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

A Thought to Ponder

Advent 3 John 1:6-8, 19-28

[John] came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might belief through him.

God has revealed himself to his people through the incarnation of his Word, Jesus the Christ. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptiser points to this revelation as standing “among you whom you do not recognise.”  

Forms of “baptism” were common in the Judaism of Gospel times – in some Jewish communities, it was through baptism rather than circumcision that a Gentile became a Jew.  But John’s baptism was distinctive: His baptism at the Jordan was a rite of repentance and metanoia, a conversion of heart and spirit. The Baptiser’s ministry fulfilled the promise of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36: 25-26): that, at the dawn of a new age, the God of Israel would purify his people from their sins with clear water and instil in them a new heart and spirit.

Light is the central image of today’s Gospel: John proclaims the coming of the Messiah as the light who will shatter the darkness that envelops our world, the light who illuminates our vision with compassion and justice.  

The coming of Christ calls us to the work of making a straight road for him, of transforming the barren deserts around us into harvests of justice and peace, of reflecting the light of his forgiveness and mercy in our midst. We are all called to this kind of “prophetic” work begun by John at the Jordan River: to use whatever skills and resources we possess to bring hope into prisons of despair, joy into deserts of sadness, love into broken hearts and spirits of stone. 

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Sermon

  •     Advent 3 B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Advent-3-B

Weekly Church Service – Second Sunday of Advent: 6 December 2020


Sentence

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. For the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.  Luke 3:4, Isaiah 40:5a


Collect

Merciful God,

you sent your messengers the prophets 

to preach repentance and prepare the way 

for our salvation:

give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake

our sins, that we may greet with joy

the coming in Jesus Christ our Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Isaiah 40:1-11
  • Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
  • 2 Peter 3:8-15a
  • Mark 1:1-8

next week

  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • Song of Mary
  • 1 Thess 5:12-28
  • John 1:6-8, 19-28

A Thought to Ponder

Advent 2 Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were being baptised by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

John’s brief appearance in Mark’s Gospel begins a new era in the history of salvation. Mark’s details about John’s appearance recall the austere dress of the great prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1: 8). The Jews believed that Elijah would return from heaven to announce the long-awaited restoration of Israel as God’s kingdom. For Mark and the synoptics, this expectation is fulfilled in John the Baptiser. In the Baptiser’s proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah, the age of the prophets is fulfilled and the age of the Messiah begins. John’s baptism with water is an act of hope and expectation in the Messiah’s baptism in the very Spirit and life of God.

Each one of us is called to be a prophet of Christ. The word prophet comes from the Greek word meaning “one who proclaims.” Not all prophets wear camel skins and eat locusts – there are prophets among us right now who proclaim in their ministries, in their compassion and their kindness, in their courageous commitment to what is right that Jesus the Messiah has come.

To be a prophet of God’s justice begins with embracing God’s vision of what the world can and should become and then giving one’s self totally and unreservedly to realising that vision. In the baptismal call to become prophets of the God who comes, we are to do the work of transforming the wastelands around us into harvests of justice and forgiveness, to create highways for our God to enter and re-create our world in charity and peace.

As an “Advent people,” we are caught (like the Israelites returning to Jerusalem – Reading 1) between a world that is dying and, at the same time, a world waiting to be reborn. The work of Advent is to bring about that rebirth: to prepare a world that is ready for the Lord’s coming.                                                                 

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Sermon

  •     Advent 2 B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Advent-2-B

Weekly Church Service – First Sunday of Advent: 29 November 2020


Sentence

‘Heaven and earth will pass away,’ says the Lord, ‘but my words will not pass away.’  Mark 13:31


Collect

Eternal God,

through long generations you prepared a way

for the coming of your Son,

and by your Spirit you still bring light to illumine

our paths: renew us in faith and hope

that we may welcome Christ to rule our 

thoughts and claim our love;

to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
  • Mark 13:24-37

next week

  • Isaiah 40:1-11
  • Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
  • 2 Peter 3:8-15a
  • Mark 1:1-8

A Thought to Ponder

Advent 1 Mark 13:24-37

“Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.”

The beginning of the Christian year begins at the end of time: the promised return of Christ at the end of time. In this brief Gospel parable of the master’s return, Jesus articulates the Advent themes of waiting, watchfulness and readiness. Jesus calls us to realise our responsibilities in the present as we dare to look forward to the promise of the future.

Advent is a call to pay attention: to pay attention to the voice of God, the hand of God, the love of God in every joy and sorrow, in every pain and trauma, in every victory and setback before us. Jesus urges us to “watch” this Advent to behold the beauty and wonder and grace of God’s presence in every moment of our lives.  

The coming of Christ and his presence among us – as one of us – gives us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned by our merciful Father in heaven.Advent confronts us with the preciousness and limits of time: that our lives are an Advent, a prelude, to the life of God to come. While confronting us with the reality that our lives and finite and fragile, these Sundays of Advent also assure us of the mercy of God, who is with us amid all the struggles and challenges of our everyday Advent journey to the dwelling place of God.

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Sermon

  •     Advent 1 B

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Advent-1-B

Weekly Church Service – Christ the King: 22 November 2020


Sentence

O shout to the Lord in triumph all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness and come before his face with songs of joy.  Psalm 100:1


Collect

God of power and love,

who raised your Son Jesus from death to life,

resplendent in glory to rule over all creation:

free the world to rejoice in his peace,

to glory in his justice, and to live in his love.

Unite the human race in Jesus Christ your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
  • Psalm 100
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Matthew 25:31-46

next week

  • Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
  • Mark 13:24-37

A Thought to Ponder

Christ the King Matthew 25:31-46

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me . . . Whatever you did for one of the least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew’s is the only description of the Last Judgment in any of the Gospels. It is Jesus’ last discourse recorded by Matthew before the events of the Passion begin to unfold. In the vision he presents in today’s Gospel, Christ is the king who sits in judgment “as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.” Mercy and charity will be the standards for determining one’s entry into the future kingdom of God.

In nations ruled by a royal family, the concept of monarchy is based on two premises: that the king rules by “divine right,” that is, by the authority of God; and that the character of the entire nation is vested in their king, sometimes expressed in the idea of the sovereign being the “father” of his children, the governed. In this light, Christ is indeed King. Jesus is the anointed one of God, the Christus, the Messiah raised up by the Father. And he is the very essence of his people, the Church. His Gospel is the bond that unites us as Church; the Eucharist, his body, gives life to that Church.  

To claim that Christ is our “King,” to proclaim ourselves to be “Christians,” demands a clear and conscious decision by each of us, not passive compliance to a “herd” spirituality. To truly celebrate this feast means to welcome Christ not just into the compartments and slots of our lifestyles marked “religion” but into every thread and fibre of the fabric of our lives.

The reign of Christ begins when we see one another as Christ. The true value of every human life is the light that God kindles within each one of us; our worth is found in the love of God that our lives reveal to the world.  

Before God, we stand as brothers and sisters; before God, the distinctions of class and culture that separate us disappear; before God, we are all loved without condition or limit. Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats challenges us to see the world in the light of God’s compassion: as a community that is centred in the holiness of God that dwells within every man, woman and child; a community that sees deeper than the externals of race, nationality, culture and language in order to behold the love of God animating the lives of all who draw breath; a community that reflects the compassion and mercy of God in our care for one another. 

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Sermon

  •     Christ the King A

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Christ-the-King-A

Weekly Church Service – Twenty-fourth Sunday After Pentecost: 15 November 2020


Sentence

God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 11


Collect

Everliving God,

before the earth was formed,

and even after it shall cease to be, you are God.

Break into our short span of life

and show us those things that are eternal,

that we may serve your purpose in all we do;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in unity with the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Judges 4:1-10
  • Psalm 123
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
  • Matthew 25:14-30

next week

  • Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
  • Psalm 100
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Matthew 25:31-46

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 24 Matthew 25:14-30

“‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter …?

’“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and they will grow rich; but from the those who have not, even what they have will be taken away.”

The “measure” of Christ’s judgment in the world to come is made clear in the parable of the talents: The Lord will judge us according to how well we used the “talents” and gifts every one of us has been given. The greater the “capital” we have been given, the greater God’s expectations.

Whatever degree of talent, ability and wealth we possess have been “entrusted” to us by the “Master.” Jesus teaches that our place in the reign of God will depend on our stewardship of those talents God has given us: whether we “bury” them in fear or selfishness or use them readily to reveal God in our midst.  

Each one of us is given many opportunities to “reap and gather.” The challenge of the Gospel is to be ready and willing to respond to those opportunities joyfully and generously for the sakes of others, to build the kingdom of God in own time and place.

Jesus urges us not to “bury” our talents in the safe ground of self-interest and passivity but to “invest” them for the benefit of all. Christ calls us to a faith that is willing take the risk of investing what we have in the greater good, and he promises us the grace to work to enable others to realise a return on the investment of their own talents in God’s kingdom in our midst.  

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Sermon

  •     Pentecost 24 A

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Pentecost-24-A

Weekly Church Service – Twenty-third Sunday After Pentecost: 8 November 2020


Sentence

Watch and be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42, 44


Collect

Eternal God,

you have taught us that the night is far spent

and the day is at hand:

keep us awake and alert, watching for your 

kingdom, so that when Christ, the bridegroom, 

comes we may go out joyfully to meet him,

and with him enter into the marriage feast

that you have prepared for all who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
  • Psalm 78:1-7
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:9-18
  • Matthew 25:1-13

next week

  • Judges 4:1-10
  • Psalm 123
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
  • Matthew 25:14-30

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 23 Matthew 25:1-13

“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”

“Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

These last Sundays of the year focus on the Parousia, the Lord’s return at the end of time. The parable of the bridesmaids, found only in Matthew’s Gospel, is taken from Jesus’ fifth and final discourse in Matthew, the great eschatological discourse.

According to the Palestinian custom, the bridegroom would go to the bride’s house on their wedding day to finalise the marital agreement with his father-in-law. When the bridegroom would return to his own home with his bride, the bridesmaids would meet them as they approached, signalling the beginning of the wedding feast.

The image of the approaching wedding feast is used by Jesus to symbolise his coming at the end of time. Jesus’ return will take many by complete surprise. The love we have for others as evidenced in works of kindness and compassion is the “oil” we store in our lamps waiting for Christ’s return.

Jesus’ parable of the foolish bridesmaids is often played out in our lives when we realise too late that our “lanterns” are empty of the “oil” of responsibility, gratitude, generosity, justice. Our inability to place the common good before our own, our failure to see how our actions affect others, our refusal to accept responsibility for one another extinguishes the light of hope that we thought would never go out. 

Too often we fall into the mindset of the five “foolish” bridesmaids of today’s Gospel: We carry on convinced there will always be enough time “later” to make our lives what we want them to be and that there is an unlimited amount of “oil” in our lamps to make it all happen.  

                                                                                       © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 23 A

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Pentecost-23-A

Weekly Church Service – Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost: 1 November 2020


Sentence

The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.  Matthew 23:11-12


Collect

Creator God,

you have filled the world with beauty:

open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works, 

that, rejoicing in your whole creation,

we may learn to serve you with gladness,

for the sake of him through whom all things 

were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy 

Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Joshua 3:7-17
  • Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:5-13
  • Matthew 23:1-12

next week

  • Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
  • Psalm 78:1-7
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:9-18
  • Matthew 25:1-13

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 22 Matthew 23:1-12

The Pharisees’ love of honour manifests itself in several ways“They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments” (v. 5b). Phylacteries (also known as tephillin) are leather boxes containing one or more scrolls inscribed with passages of scripture in accord with the law, “Therefore you shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for symbols between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 11:18). In obedience to this law, the scribes and Pharisees wear phylacteries on their forehead and their arm. The phylacteries serve as a constant reminder of God’s law, and include certain passages of the law (Exodus 13:1-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21). Deuteronomy also requires Jews to write the laws “on the door posts of your house, and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 11:20)—a law that observant Jews still obey by fastening a Mezuzah containing these laws on the doorpost of their homes. Such a device identifies a home as Jewish and its inhabitants as observant. It also serves as a constant reminder to children and others of God’s law.

Tassels or fringes are required by Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12, and are intended to remind people of God’s commandments. Phylacteries and tassels are like stained glass windows or icons—intended to help people, particularly pre-literate people, to remember and to understand spiritual things. They are laid down by God in Torah law. The problem is not that the scribes and Pharisees observe these Torah laws, but that they seek personal honour for doing so. They wear especially large phylacteries and long tassels to draw attention to their scrupulous observance.Jesus teaches his disciples a very different way to live. He teaches us to give alms, to pray, and to fast in secret (6:1-8, 16-18) so that “your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (6:18). He says of people who seek to practice public piety to gain public honour that they will “have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (6:1).

                                                                                       © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 22 A

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Pentecost-22-A

Weekly Church Service – Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost: 25 October 2020


Sentence

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37-40               


Collect

O God,

whose Son has taught us that love is the 

fulfilment of your law: stir up within us the fire

of your Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts 

your greatest gift of love, so that we may love

you with our whole being, and our neighbours

as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Deuteronomy 34:1-12
  • Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13
  • Matthew 22:34-46

next week

  • Joshua 3:7-17
  • Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:5-13
  • Matthew 23:1-12

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 21 Matthew 22:34-46

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

In this Sunday’s Gospel, as in last Sunday’s, the Jewish leaders seek to trip Jesus up. The question the lawyer poses was much discussed in rabbinical circles: Which is the greatest commandment? The Pharisees’ intention in posing the question was to force Jesus into a single rabbinical school, thereby opening him up to criticism from all other sides. Jesus’ answer, however, proves his fidelity to both the Jewish tradition and to a spirituality that transcends the legal interpretations of the commandments: the “second” commandment is the manifestation of the first. If we love the Lord God with our whole being, that love will manifest itself in our feeding of the hungry, our sheltering of the homeless and our liberating the oppressed.

Jesus’ “command” to love our neighbour means seeing one another as we see ourselves: realising that our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families are the same dreams others have for themselves and their families.  

Every one of us, at one time or other, is an alien, outsider, foreigner and stranger. The commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself” is not confined to our “own” people or to a list of specific situations but should affect every relationship we have and every decision we make.

As our society becomes more and more diverse, as science continues to make once unimaginable advances in all forms of technology, the ethical and moral questions we face become more complicated, difficult and challenging. The “great commandment” gives us the starting point for dealing with such issues: to love as God loves us – without limit, without condition, without counting the cost, completely and selflessly.  In our “e-connected” existence, the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are especially challenging: to love with our whole heart and soul and mind requires us to “unplug” and be present to one another, to engage one another as our loving God is engaged with us, to seek not just images and perceptions of compassion but behold compassion and experience love in one another.   

                                                                                       © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 21 A

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Pentecost-21-A

Weekly Church Service – Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost: 18 October 2020


Sentence

Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Matthew 22:21                                                                                                 


Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

in Christ you have revealed your glory among 

the nations: grant that your church throughout

the world may persevere with steadfast faith

in proclaiming the cross to be the way that

leads to life eternal; through Jesus Christ our

Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Readings

  • Exodus 33:12-23
  • Psalm 99
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
  • Matthew 22:15-33

next week

  • Deut 34:1-12
  • Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13
  • Matthew 22:34-46

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 20 Matthew 22:15-33

“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

In today’s Gospel, two opponents of Jesus, the Pharisees and Herodians (supporters of Herod’s dynasty), join forces to trap Jesus. If Jesus affirms that taxes should be paid, he alienates the religious nationalists; if he denies that taxes should be paid, then he is subject to arrest by the Romans as a political revolutionary. But the very fact that his inquisitors could produce the emperor’s coin from one of their purses was to admit a Roman obligation: If one used the sovereign’s coin then one automatically took on an obligation to the sovereign; in other words, the Pharisees and Herodians, in trying to trap Jesus, answered their own question. But Jesus takes the debate to an even higher level by challenging them to be just as observant in paying their debt to God.

The confrontation over Caesar’s coin is not a solution to any church-versus-state controversy; Jesus’ response to the Pharisees confronts them – and us – with the demand to act out of our convictions and to take responsibility for our actions.  

Jesus appeals to us to look beyond the simplistic politics and black-and-white legalisms represented by the coin and realise that we are called to embrace the values centered in a faith that sees the hand of God in all things and every human being as part of a single family under the providence of God.  

The Pharisees who confront Jesus with Caesar’s coin are trying to trap him into making a choice between one’s country and God. But Jesus’ response indicates that one’s citizenship does not have to be at odds with one’s faith; in fact, when government seeks to provide for the just welfare of its citizens, it becomes a vehicle for establishing the reign of God.

God and Caesar do not have to be at odds, Jesus tells the Pharisees. In God, we realise the dignity of every man, woman and child as sons and daughters of God and our brothers and sisters; in setting up systems of government, we provide for the common good of one another and protect the welfare of all, providing for public safety, educational opportunities and clean water and air.  Jesus’ answers are not the clear, unambiguous solutions we hope for to these and many other questions. But his response is the heart of living our faith: the struggle to return to God what is God’s. Through prayer and discernment, each one of us has to do for ourselves the hard work of deciding exactly what is God’s will in our complex world of politics, money and human relationships.                  

                                                                                       © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 20 A

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-20-A

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