This service can be used at home if you are unable to get to church. As you pray and reflect, we trust you will feel part of the wider church community.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence,
O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and forever. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly Father
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly king,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ only son of the Father
Lord God Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world:
have mercy upon us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most high,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Almighty God, in whose service lies perfect freedom: teach us to obey you with loving hearts and steadfast wills; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thessalonians 1. 1-10
1 From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers,
3 constantly remembering before our God and Father
your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God,
that he has chosen you,
5 because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit
and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you
not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.
9 For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard the parables, they realized that Jesus was speaking about them.
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.
16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth,
and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality.
17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?
19 Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius.
20 Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’
21 They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’
22 When they heard this, they were amazed;
and they left him and went away.
Three questions you might ask about the readings
What strikes you from the readings?
What puzzles you from the readings?
What excites you from the readings?
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This must be one of the best-known sayings from the Bible, but its meaning remains elusive.
The context is important. The Jews were subject to Rome and this tax, a poll-tax, was enforced on all adult Jews. The tax was a denarius, a silver coin bearing the head of the emperor (Do not make any graven images), and referring to the emperor as the son of the divine Augustus. So the tax was resented and the coin was seen as an offence. The smaller denomination copper coins circulating in Judea at the time did not have the emperor’s head on them. Should we give the tax to the emperor or not? Answer Yes and Jesus would potentially lose his popular following; Answer No and Jesus would be accused of dissent
Jesus does two things in answering. First he calls for the silver coin – he is not carrying one but the Pharisees have access to this coin showing they are more bought into the system than he is. T hey have the offensive coins! And second he changes the language slightly, though our English translations do not pick up the nuance. He was asked if you should give the tax to Caesar; he replies you should give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
A one sentence answer is not a complete theological and political ethic – far from it. Nor would you expect one when the context is one of entrapment. Jesus did not side with the violent radicals – but his outspoken opposition to those whose power was used oppressively or unjustly was far more radical and ultimately self-sacrificing.
“In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”
Dag Hammarskjöld was General Secretary of the United Nations; his Christian faith shaped his work. The world of action has been interpreted differently by different leaders, and in different contexts.
Wllberforce and Shaftesbury worked within the system to abolish slavery and change working practices. Bonhoeffer eventually decided it was right to try and assassinate Hitler. Martin Luther King chose a non-violent way of protest, as did Desmond Tutu. Others felt that was not enough.
In the current context, Extinction Rebellion and other climate activists have chosen to disrupt life for others and have protested visibly at events. There are Anglican clergy among their number. For them the world around has not woken up to the urgency of the issue. If we disapprove of what they do, we should probably ask, what are we doing? This is the beginning of our wrestling with these huge and important issues, not a shut-out answer which means we can move on, even if our world is rather different in structure and in its conflicts and challenges from the world of Jesus. Inequality, injustice, exclusion and oppression certainly remain, as continuing evils.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
he will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS Please include your own prayers as well
In our prayers we pray for our church, our communities and our world
Lord God, we pray for our churches, our Turton Team, our Mission Community, our Diocese and the world-wide Church in every land.
Bless the leaders, guard the people, guide us in our future;
May we share the gospel in word and deed
and bring glory to your name;
Lord bless our churches we pray
Lord God we pray for our community
We pray for our schools, the children and staff.
We pray for all who work to make our communities a better place for others
We pray for Councillors and carers;
Lord bless our community we pray
Lord God we pray for our nation
May our leaders lead with integrity and justice
Give them wisdom and direct their decisions.
We pray that ours may be a nation
where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and helped
and where all may flourish;
Lord bless our nation we pray
Lord God, we pray for our world,
for the war-torn places, we pray for peace.
We pray that all may work together to alleviate need
and to protect this world for future generations;
Lord bless our world we pray
Lord God, we pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit
We pray for those we know, and those who have no one to pray for them.
We pray for those who are dying and those who grieve;
We ask that you would give healing and peace to the soul
Lord bless the sick we pray
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in Heaven
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
Keep a moment of quiet as you allow God to speak to you,
as you let your spirit rest in God’s Spirit.
May the Lord
bless us and watch over us,
make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us.
May the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace,
and may the blessing of God Almighty,
our Creator, our Redeemer,
the one who gives us Life
be among us and with us all always. Amen.