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Worship Resources, Prayers, Bible Study

Ordinary 29 Year A

Opening Verse
 
 
 
 
 
 
The picture is of what is commonly referred to as the "Tribute Penny" from the bible, perhaps Livia seated on reverse. The coin shows an early portrait of Tiberius. Inscribed on left: Tiberius, AR Denarius, 14-37, Rome. TI CAESAR DIVI-AVG F AVGVSTVS. Laureate head. On the right PONTIF-MAXIM, Female figure seated right on chair with ornamented legs, vertical scepter in right hand, branch in left, single exergue line 18mm x 19mm, 3.42g RIC I, 30 (C)
Collect Prayer
First Reading:
Second Reading:
Gospel Reading
Post Communion Sentence
Commentary:
Meditation:
Hymns
Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead:
Intercessions from our Sunday worship
Sermon

render to CaesarIntroduction

Today in the the passage from Matthew, Jesus is placed in a difficult situation. He is asked whether it was right to pay tax to Caesar. Taxes are a difficult subject at any time and nobody likes them. But imagine if you were a faithful Jew living at the time of Jesus. The tax was a poll tax, paid in a Roman coin which had a graven image of the head of Caesar, and it was inscribed in a way which attributed to him divinity. Jesus was in a difficult position , but his answer was brilliant. He told his audience to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, but to give to God all that belonged to God. It was a huge contrast, Caesar could have coins cast in his image and call them his own, but every human being is created in the image of God. To Caesar belonged a person's taxes, to God belongs every life.

Opening Verses of Scripture Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.


Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Common Worship

Gracious God, you call us to fullness of life: deliver us from unbelief and banish our anxieties with the liberating love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Common Worship

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do also for you. Give us the will to be the servants of others as you were the servant of all; for you gave up your life and died for us, but live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and formed us in your own image. Teach us to discern your hand in all your works, and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who reigns, with you and the Holy Spirit, supreme over all creation, now and for ever.  Amen. Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading Exodus 33: 12-23

Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favour with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people." The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name." Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."
 

Second Reading  1 Thessalonians 1: 1-10

Paul, Silas and Timothy,  To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:  Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
 

Gospel Reading  Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Post Communion Sentence

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Merciful Father, who gave Jesus Christ to be for us the bread of life, that those who come to him should never hunger: draw us to the Lord in faith and love, that we may eat and drink with him at his table in the kingdom, where he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.  Amen.
 

Commentary

We should not be surprised by a Bible passage from Matthew today in which we read that the Pharisees want to trap Jesus into saying something which will either discredit him or place him in danger. Remember in Matthew Chapter 12 and Verse 14 we read 
‘The Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.’
There is a desire by the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus. His enemies are so intent on his destruction that they join forces across political and religious divides. The Pharisees were nationalistic, they were against the Roman occupation, and today they are seen collaborating with the Herodians who were royalists who supported Herod the puppet king of Rome, they wanted the status quo to remain. They try to ensnare Jesus and ask him a trick question, ‘Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’

The questioners start by calling Jesus 'Teacher', perhaps to put him off his guard by appearing to flatter him by showing respect. Nevertheless the sole intent is to cause Jesus to say something which might incriminate himself. The questioners also make the point that Jesus has no respect for wealth, position, or power. Such words encourage Jesus to fearlessly speak his mind, so to draw him into an answer which was either
Critical of the emperors taxation of the Jews - so he would be an enemy of Rome
Supportive of the tax - so he would be an enemy of the people

It is a brilliant question because it seemingly has no correct answer !
Let’s look at what this tax was
The tax concerned was a poll tax, it was an annual payment to the Roman occupying forces which was a painful reminder of the subjugation of the Jewish people. Hence it was always unpopular with the people. Roman taxation had sparked off a revolt two decades earlier in AD6 by Judas of Galilee which had been violently crushed by Rome. The popular opposition to Rome was expressed by those we call Zealots, revolutionaries who believed there was no king but God.
If Jesus says that it is right to give taxes to Caesar then he discredits himself with the people. 
If Jesus says that tax should not be paid then his opponents are in a powerful position to present Jesus to the Romans as a dangerous revolutionary.

In answering Jesus asks to see a coin used to pay the tax. Most likely the coin in question bore the image of the emperor Tiberius who ruled Rome during those years (AD 14–37). One side of the coin would have deified Tiberius as a "son of the divine Augustus." The other side would have honoured him as the "Pontifex Maximus" or "chief priest" of Roman polytheism — which is to say that the two sides of the coin celebrated absolute religious and civil authority for Tiberius.
To a nationalistic Jew who confessed a radical monotheism, such a graven image was religiously offensive, contrary to the ten commandments and politically humiliating. Certainly much of the crowd would have been repulsed at the political, religious, and economic implications of honouring a pagan "god" by paying a tax to him. Why should poor peasants in Israel send their hard-earned money all the way back to Rome and its emperor?
For normal commercial use special copper coins were used without these features, so no Jew need handle the silver denarius, (probably minted in Lyon) except to pay his tax.
From the previous chapter Matt 21:23 it appears that Jesus is teaching in the temple when this takes place. Remember no Roman coinage was supposed to be in the temple, ever. All of that was to have been exchanged in the "court of the Gentiles." The Pharisees strongly endorsed this policy, quite publicly. Yet possibly here, in the sacred space of the temple, it appears the Pharisees possess the idolatrous image. Even if it is not in the Temple the Pharisees should not carry Roman coins, for they bear this blasphemous image of Tiberius Caesar and the inscription proclaiming him divine.

Jesus asks for the image to be identified. The fact that the questioners are able to produce the coin so quickly cut the ground from beneath their feet. They were using Caesar’s money. It is the picture and name of Caesar. So picture the scene: here is the true divine Son of God standing in the street beholding a graven image that represented all that was idolatrous about the cult of the Caesar. Then Jesus comes out with this famous phrase -
Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's
Or in the phrase of the King James
Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; 
and unto God the things that are God's.
Jesus is saying, let Caesar can have his paltry coin. The image of Caesar is on the coin, it surely must belong to him. Yet more importantly, we are told that God created us in his image. If the image of Caesar on a coin meant that it was his, then surely the image of God on humanity means that we must render to God our whole being. I think that Jesus is calling us to recognise that his followers should not have double standards, we must not divide our lives into our God bit and our secular bit. It means that the things we think and pray about in church on Sunday must work themselves out during the week in the rest of our lives.
Now it is for each of us before God to sort that out and try to consider what it means. Somehow as we read the teachings of Jesus about how we should live, we have to take it to heart and make it real.
In our busy lives we are challenged today not to forget God and his claims on our lives. We belong to God, because we are fashioned in his image, all of us. We belong to God in all our being, with all our talents, interests, time, and wealth. Each one of us is a ‘coin of God’ he has stamped his divine image onto each of us. So we render our tax to Caesar but our whole lives to God. Amen  Charles Royden

 

Meditation

At the beginning of our services, we will all say in response to the words, ‘The Lord be here’, ‘His Spirit is with us’.  It is at one and the same time a statement of fact and a statement of faith.  How we experience His being with us, through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, may depend on how much we care to acknowledge God in our own lives.  When Jesus was answering the question of the Herodians and the Pharisees He was answering their question with both fact and faith.  Giving to Caesar was a fact.  Taxes had either been given or not.  Giving to God was faith.  It is only be faith that we can give ourselves to God and believe that He has received us into a restored relationship with God through the forgiveness of our sins.  Sometimes in our fact oriented and deterministic world we can lose sight of the fact that our spiritual experience is based on faith.  A faith that is underpinned and enabled by knowledge and understanding, but a faith nonetheless.  The law that the Pharisees espoused seemed to have been more about facts that faith, the knowledge and description of the rights and the wrongs, rather than an enabling framework to allow people to come to know God better.  God’s presence was with the Israelites if they would but acknowledge it.  It was with them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night when they were in the wilderness.  It was with them in the Tabernacle and the Temple and through the gift of the Holy Spirit it is with us all now.  And even thought the Israelites may not have always acknowledged Him, He would God would continue to lead and to guide them, in all their uncertain times and beyond, in the desert and in the Promised Land  When we look out on the uncertainty in the world today we too need to remember that God will continue to lead us, His presence is with us wherever we are, even if we feel we don’t have the commandments and the word of God in tangible form with us.
 

Hymns

  1. Stand up and bless the Lord
  2. As we are gathered Jesus is here
  3. We come as guests invited
  4. Fight the good fight
     

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian, if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die.

 

Heavenly Father, you taught us by your Son Jesus Christ that all our possessions come from you. Help us to be faithful stewards of our time, our talents and our wealth, and to consecrate gladly to you service a due proportion of all that you have given us. Take us and make us your own; for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen

Almighty God, as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son, help us to see and know your love for us, so that in humility, love and joy we may place at His feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your people, that richly bearing the fruit of good works, they may by you be richly rewarded, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

I know what must be done. Only now am I beginning to be a disciple.  May nothing of powers visible or invisible prevent me, that I may attain unto Jesus Christ.  Amen    Ignatius of Antioch

May God grant that we who have worshipped Him may be witnesses to Him in His world, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always.  Amen

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do also for you. Give us the will to be servants of others as you were the servant of all; for you gave up your life and died for us, but live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

O Lord, you are the beginning of all my good, the wellspring of all my love and the source of all my freedom. Let your grace work on in me, that your will may be done through me, and that I may always rejoice in your presence; now and for ever. Amen Mary Ward, 1585-1645


 

Additional Material

 

Opening Verse of Scripture—Psalm 96:8

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.

Collect Prayer for the Day—before we read, we pray

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen

Isaiah 45:1-7

This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armour, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. 

For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honour, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

 I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. 

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

Commentary

 

In rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s we are doing no more that Christ demands.  We need to achieve a balance between our family, professional and community responsibilities, meet both their spiritual and temporal needs, and in so doing acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty over all.  At the time Matthew was writing it was virtually impossible to separate politics and religion.  The heated debate between Jesus and the Jewish authorities has come to a head.  He's called the Pharisees discontented sons (they said they would work in the vineyard but then did not go), evil tenants (of the vineyard and who killed the owner’s son), and ill fated guests (at the wedding feast where they did not wear the robe of Christ).  In last week’s readings Jesus challenged the entire religious fabric of the Jewish society.  This week it’s the turn of politics.  Today’s gospel reading sees the Pharisees in a bizarre collaboration with the Herodians as they try once more to get the upper hand.  The Pharisees and the Herodians were normally in bitter opposition. The Pharisees resented the payment of taxes to Rome because it was against their religious convictions; the Herodians were the political party of Herod, king of Galilee, who owed their power to the Romans and were therefore content to pay for that privilege through taxes.   But both parties saw Jesus as a threat and used the question of taxation as an opportunity to trap Him, either politically or failing that, theologically, depending on his reply.  On the one hand, if he said that taxes should not be paid he would be brought before the Roman governor for sedition, on the other, if he said that taxes should be paid, he would be seen as affirming the status of Caesar and his authority, and be brought before the temple authorities by the Pharisees for blasphemy against the one true and sovereign God of the Jews.  Jesus' answer is wise and perceptive, like many of his responses. Similarly, if we want to bring about God’s Kingdom in our society common sense, wisdom, perception and the appropriate response will be required.

But the very question itself was loaded, and, as with many loaded questions they are not really bothered about the answer.  They are asking the question to try to trap Jesus and exert their power over Him.  As we know, things don’t turn out as they expect.  It’s almost as if Jesus, rather than not knowing what to say, responds with, ‘…I’m glad you asked that question…’  Over the past few weeks in the passages in Matthew leading up to this exchange we have been reading about people who refuse to give God His due, who will not rejoice with His Son, and who will not recognise Him for who He is.  Jesus invites His hearers to give (literally restore and appropriate) to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God what is due to God.  A complex question does not always require a complex answer.  Jesus’ answer is wise and challenging.  It forces the Herodians to question what is Caesar’s that should be restored to Him, whilst at the same time challenging the Jewish authorities to restore the people of Israel and the Jewish religion itself to God and to give God His due.  As last week, Jesus questions the foundations of the society to those who had posed the question to Jesus in the first place.  And they had no answers, they went away speechless. 

In the time of Jesus, the denarius bore the image of the emperor Tiberius, who ruled between 14 and 37 C.E., and an inscription: “Tiberius Caesar, Augustus, son of the divine Augustus, high priest.”  Pharisees were particularly disturbed by the attribution of divinity to Caesar but also considered possession of this graven image to be idolatrous. They devised ways to pay this tax without possessing or handling the coin.  It would be very shameful if a Pharisee produced the coin.  But if a Herodian in the group produced the coin, the Pharisees would still be shamed by having selected unworthy allies.  In either case, the fact that someone in their group possessed and produced the coin was shameful.  Jesus’ first riposte to their challenge cuts deep.  Jesus’ concluding exhortation, “Give to God the things that belong to God,” implies that neither the Pharisees nor the Herodians are doing that. This is a serious charge.  The Pharisees were so devoted to observing the Torah’s 613 commandments that they put a “hedge around the Torah” and Jesus challenges both their understanding and their intent.

The image on the coin was Caesar’s; we are created in God’s image.  If we are to give the coins to Caesar we are to give ourselves to God.  But perhaps part of the problem for the hearers of this story is that whilst it was possible to give taxes to the Romans and have done with it, it wasn’t the same with giving themselves to God.  Many would give taxes as it was a pragmatic way of coexisting peaceably with the Romans whilst maintaining a degree of religious independence.  Even today, giving taxes is something of a one off transaction, even though we might pay monthly; giving ourselves to God, whilst it might start with a transaction like encounter, is a continuous process.  One is a finite commitment and obligation, the other is an infinite invitation and an offer of a relationship with a bounteous God.
Sam Cappleman

 

Commentary

The Romans were an occupying force, they had marched their army into Israel and they had taken over. Then they demanded money to sustain their occupation. If you and I were living there at that time, the chances are that we would have greatly resented the Romans and their tax. The tax was not an option. It was mandatory, if you did not pay taxes to Rome then you could be killed. Moreover whilst Jews did not place images of people on their coins, Caesar had placed his image on the coins. Around the picture of the emperor’s head were inscribed the words 'Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus, and on the other side 'pontifex maximus' which would be understood as 'High Priest.' Paying the tax was a very tangible acknowledgement of submission to Rome, it was also a religious insult, because the coin was blasphemous.


Jesus is approached by two groups who have made a pact to try and trap him. They ask him whether it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. One group was the Herodians, who supported the family of Herod and who had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and peace. They were what we would think of as collaborators. The other group were disciples of the Pharisees, they were nationalistic Jews. They had not got a great in common but Jesus was the enemy of both and a common enemy makes strange bedfellows. and so they make a pact to trap Jesus. Jesus was in a pickle, if he suggested paying the tax, he would have alienated the devout religious Jew. If, on the other hand, he advocated that they not pay the tax, the Romans would have sprung on him for treason and for stirring up insurrection.
 

Jesus responds by asking, "Whose head (Greek: eikon -- icon -- image) is this, and whose title?" The coin, of course, bears Caesar's eikon and belongs to Caesar. The Pharisees' disciples answer, "Caesar's. " Their reply half answers their question: they possess in this coin the possession of another. Is it wrong to return property to its owner?"
 

The coin is an instrument of Caesar's government -- under Caesar's control -- its value established by Caesar. It is available for their use only because Caesar has ordered the mint to strike it and the treasury to disburse it. It is an integral part of Caesar's realm.
So Jesus says, ‘Give back therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's."
But there is a sting in the tail, ‘..and give back to God the things that are God's’
 

We are all made in the image of God -- we bear God's image -- and so it is appropriate to give ourselves back to God -- all that we have and all that we are -- because we were created by the Word of God and are an integral part of God's realm.
Jesus acknowledges our obligation as citizens to the state, but affirms our larger obligation as human beings to God. Coins bearing Caesar's image may belong to Caesar, but all things (coins, Caesar, Rome, the planet earth, the universe) come from God and are under God's dominion. Caesar's realm is but a speck within God's realm. The days of Caesar's realm are numbered, but God's realm is eternal. Charles Royden
 

Commentary

In the readings over the past few weeks we've seen Jesus openly denounce the Jewish leadership. 

He's called the Pharisees discontented sons (they said they would work in the vineyard but then did not go), evil tenants (of the vineyard and who killed the owners son), ill fated guests (at the wedding feast where they did not wear the robe of Christ). 

This week's gospel reading sees the Pharisees collaborating with the Herodians to go on the counter attack. And because it was almost impossible to separate politics and religion in Israel, the question posed by the Pharisees and Herodians made sense to all who heard it. 

Paying taxes was a real issue for many Jews living under the pagan power of Rome, where the Emperor himself was seen as a demi-god and who now effectively controlled the promised land. To many, paying taxes to Rome effectively sanctioned his power. Similarly withholding taxes had always been one of the ploys advocated by rebels of the day - indeed, remember the Poll Tax rebellion just a few years ago in the UK! 

However, the question posed to Jesus was made all the more sinister because the Pharisees and the Herodians were normally in bitter opposition. The Pharisees resented the payment of taxes to Rome because it was against their religious convictions; the Herodians were the political party of Herod, king of Galilee, who owed their power to the Romans and were therefore content to pay for that privilege through taxes. 

Both parties saw Jesus as a threat and used the question of taxation as an opportunity to trap Him, either politically or theologically, depending on his reply. On the one hand, if he said that taxes should not be paid he would be brought before the Roman governor for sedition, on the other, if he said that taxes should be paid, he would be seen as affirming the status of Caesar and his authority, and be brought before the temple authorities by the Pharisees for blasphemy against the one true and sovereign God of the Jews.

Jesus' answer is wise and perceptive, like many of his responses. It had to be, the question is literally an invitation to commit suicide. Strategies for living in society, especially if we want to bring about change, often require common sense, wisdom and perception. Jesus' response does not advocate withholding taxes. It appears that He is prepared comply and to pay them, just as He was also prepared react, knock tables over and drive money changers out of the temple when a different response was required.

The Pharisees taught that all things are God's, they believed God is God and God is one. They acknowledged this daily in their worship. 

If everything is God's, all will be judged and measured, by His standards, including governments, regimes and the Pharisees own teaching and leadership. And by God's standards all would fall short. 

Standing before Jewish and Herodian inquisitors was the source of ultimate power and authority, yet Jesus chose not to use, or abuse this power. Rather, He asked them to work things out for themselves, given His response and guidelines. 

Today Jesus still gives us the guidelines by which we can make our own decisions and respond to the circumstances that confront us in our society. To give our dues to worldly authorities where appropriate and also to give to God that which is due to Him. 

He alone is the ultimate power and authority, in whom we have our being. It is He who gives our lives true meaning. He gives us all that we are and all that we have. How changed the world would be if we took His words to heart and gave more of what we are, and more of what we have, back to God for His use and control. Sam Cappleman

Meditation

In rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's we are doing no more than Christ demands. We need to achieve a balance between our family, professional and community responsibilities, meet both their spiritual and temporal needs, and in so doing acknowledge the Lord's sovereignty over all. 

At the time Matthew was writing it was virtually impossible to separate politics and religion. In a week where there has been the election of the Mayor of Bedford we are reminded that as Christians we too have a responsibility to be fully involved in our society and to perhaps renew the current general apathy and disinterest in politics with true religion, truth and freedom.

Hymns

  1. O for a heart to praise my God
  2. I am a new creation
  3. Take my life
  4. Hail to the Lord's anointed
  5. Morning has broken
  6. All I once held dear
  7. I heard the voice of Jesus say
  8. O God beyond all praising, Tune Thaxted

Prayers

Heavenly Father, you taught us by your Son Jesus Christ that all our possessions come from you. Help us to be faithful stewards of our time, our talents and our wealth, and to consecrate gladly to you service a due proportion of all that you have given us. Take us and make us your own; for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen

Almighty God, as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son, help us to see and know your love for us, so that in humility, love and joy we may place at His feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your people, that richly bearing the fruit of good works, they may by you be richly rewarded, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Go out into the world; enjoy what God has given you; use all you can in God's service and for the relief of need; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always. Amen

Sermons

Render tax to Caesar your life to God

Taxing Questions

Christ triumphant ever reigning,
Saviour, Master, King!
Lord of heaven, our lives sustaining,
hear us as we sing:
Yours the glory and the crown,
the high renown, the eternal name.

Word incarnate, truth revealing,
Son of Man on earth!
power and majesty concealing
by your humble birth: Chorus

Suffering servant, scorned, ill–treated,
victim crucified!
death is through the cross defeated,
sinners justified: Chorus

Priestly king, enthroned for ever
high in heaven above!
sin and death and hell shall never
stifle hymns of love: Chorus

So, our hearts and voices raising
through the ages long,
ceaselessly upon you gazing,
this shall be our song: Chorus

Tune Christ Triumphant

Like a mighty river flowing,
like a flower in beauty growing,
far beyond all human knowing
is the perfect peace of God.

Like the hills serene and even,
like the coursing clouds of heaven,
like the heart that's been forgiven
is the perfect peace of God.

Like the summer breezes playing,
like the tall trees softly swaying,
like the lips of silent praying
is the perfect peace of God.

Like the morning sun ascended,
like the scents of evening blended,
like a friendship never ended
is the perfect peace of God.

Like the azure ocean swelling,
like the jewel all-excelling,
far beyond our human telling
is the perfect peace of God.

Tune Old Yeavering

 

My God, now is your table spread,
your cup with love still overflows:
so may your children here be fed
as Christ to us his goodness shows.

This holy feast, which Jesus makes
a banquet of his flesh and blood —
how glad each one who comes and takes
this sacred drink, this royal food!

His gifts that richly satisfy
are yet to some in vain displayed:
did not for them the saviour die —
may they not share the children's bread?

My God, here let your table be
a place of joy for all your guests,
and may each one salvation see
who now its sacred pledges tastes.

Tune Rockingham

 

Alleluia, sing to Jesus!
his the sceptre, his the throne;
Alleluia, his the triumph,
his the victory alone:
hark, the songs of peaceful Sion
thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus out of every nation
hath redeemed us by his blood.

Alleluia, not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia, he is near us,
faith believes, nor questions how:
though the cloud from sight received him,
when the forty days were o'er,
shall our hearts forget his promise,
'I am with you evermore'?

Alleluia, bread of angels,
thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia, here the sinful
flee to thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners,
earth's Redeemer, plead for me,
where the songs of all the sinless
sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia, King eternal,
thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia, born of Mary,
earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne:
thou within the veil hast entered,
robed in flesh, our great High Priest;
thou on earth both Priest and Victim
in the eucharistic feast.

Tune Hyfrydol