18th October 2020 Sunday Service

St Luke's Church in Hedge End

Welcome

Focus verse: “When they heard Jesus’ words, they were amazed”

Way Maker

You are here moving in our midst
I worship You I worship You
You are here working in this place
I worship You I worship You
 
(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are
(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are
 
You are here turning lives around
I worship You I worship You
You are here healing every heart
I worship You I worship You
 
(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are
(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are
 
Even when I don't see it You're working
Even when I don't feel it You're working
You never stop You never stop working
You never stop You never stop working
 
(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are
(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are
 
That is who You are (x5)

I Stand Amazed

Opening Words

from Martin

God our Father,

we come to you in sorrow for our sins.

For turning away from you,

and ignoring your will for our lives;

Father, forgive us:

All   save us and help us.

For behaving just as we wish,

without thinking of you;

Father, forgive us:

All   save us and help us.

For failing you by what we do,

and think and say;

Father, forgive us:

All   save us and help us.

For letting ourselves be drawn away from you

by temptations in the world about us;

Father, forgive us:

All   save us and help us.

For living as if we were ashamed

to belong to your Son;

Father, forgive us:

All   save us and help us.

Amen

This I Believe

Our Father everlasting
The all creating One
God Almighty
Through Your Holy Spirit
Conceiving Christ the Son
Jesus our Savior
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
Our Judge and our Defender
Suffered and crucified
Forgiveness is in You
Descended into darkness
You rose in glorious life
Forever seated high
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
I believe in You
I believe You rose again
I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord
I believe
And I believe in You
I believe You rose again
I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
For I believe in the name of Jesus
For I believe in the name of Jesus
We believe in love, Jesus
I believe in life eternal
I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the saints' communion
And in Your holy Church
I believe in the resurrection
When Jesus comes again
For I believe, in the name of Jesus
Come on!
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
For I believe in the name of Jesus

Bible reading: Matthew 22:15-22

Talk

from Liz

Good Morning

As you will note there is no video today.  Since we are not meeting in Church I want to take the opportunity, as I have done before, in writing a more reflective piece that you can scroll through, read and re-read at your leisure.

Matthew 22 15-22

When reading about this passage I found Tom Wright’s view to be helpful.  He puts this passage in the context of a modern day election:

Jesus v Caeasar – who should the people “vote” for ?

The setting, he notes, is of an audience that Jesus was thought to be made up of what he thought were  ordinary people but were people actually out to ask trick questions, to make him look stupid, or attack and vilify him.   Not an uncommon setting for modern day politicians who often find it hard to get their point across even with training on how to respond.

Not so Jesus.    The question being asked seemed to be an innocent one.  It started with some seemingly supportive statements about him:

V 16 Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are”. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

Reading between the lines, as Jesus could, this was a very loaded question!  It requires a yes or a no.

The issue of paying taxes was the hot topic for the people at that time.  Their land had been taken over by force and now they had been forced to pay tax on it.  Any challenge would lead to their death and they would have seen people killed for that reason. It was brutal.   In general the coins by which they had to pay the tax had Caesar’s image on it– a very clear sign of who was king.    The coin was particularly hated by the Jews (images/ human faces no allowed) and they were able to use other coins.  However, when Jesus asked for a coin the one with the image on it was readily available, showing that they were using it.

Jesus had to decide how to answer this question on the spot. Anyone leading a “kingdom of God” movement would be expected to oppose the tax.   Surely God was supposed to become king instead of Caesar wasn’t he?  To say otherwise would undermine his teachings and purpose for coming to earth.

Jesus knew at once that they were trying to trap him and did not directly answer the question.

He took the coin and turned the question back to them.

V 20” and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

In effect he was asking them to pay back to Caesar in his own coin, it had his image on it, and his inscription, it belonged to him– it says that those listening were amazed.  It is suggested they could be confused too – was Jesus saying to pay taxes or not?

The follow up of “ and pay to God what is God’s” would also be confusing.

Again Tom Wright, helps with this confusion – Jesus was not trying to give an answer for all time.   The aim was to give those asking the question a sharp challenge in return.

The question Jesus asked here was whether they had given their full allegiance to God or were they trying to keep Caesar happy while speaking of God?  In Mark 6 we read that we cannot serve two masters:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Matthew 6:24

– so which one were they serving?  Where was their true allegiance?

Jesus knew what was coming, he taught about it constantly – you only need to read through the book of Matthew to see his teachings on this.   The Beatitudes, mission, growth, community and the future.  (It is worth reading this Gospel in one go. It sets out where our allegiance should lay – our life in the kingdom of God.

Yes – in the future the kingdom of God would defeat the kingdom of Caesar – but by the victory of power and love and of the greater empire of death itself.

So what does this mean for us today?

In what ways do we “pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s?  Do our lives show our allegiance to the kingdom of God?  I ask that question of myself as well as to you.

We still need to live within a Country where others have authority over us, but we also need to live in God’s way, overcoming injustice, bringing change where needed, praying for situations in the world – we are called to make a difference, so that our lives shine out for others to see there is another way of living.  Kingdom of God living.

Over the last six months or some of us have had more time to explore, or have found out by chance, where our allegiance and our priorities lie.

During the lockdown I had to work from home.  It was a strange time but a pattern I got into.  I had more time without travelling to work and had no meetings in the evenings.  I was very clearly shown over time what was important, and what things I could let go of.   My priorities naturally started to shift.

On a practical level those “odd jobs” I had been meaning to do could get done, I could clear out things that I no longer use.  (You may have had the same experience of trying to take things to Charity shops and them not being able to take things as everyone had had the same idea!)

I had time to notice things around me.  I met my neighbours (during the clap for the NHS particularly), albeit at a distance.   I noticed the environment change and how loudly the birds were singing, without all the usual noise around, the cleaner air and just how slow life became without all the rushing around.  I had time to reflect on what was important and what was not.

Before I go on I need to say that I absolutely get that this was not the experience for everyone.  If I tried to discuss these discoveries with my friend, who is a nurse, I got the reaction I deserved!!

Nonetheless, most of us have had to change the way we live, we may have more time, to listen to God, to see where he is at work and to see, from his teachings, how he would want his world to be like. What are his priorities for us?  It has, and remains, a good opportunity to take stock of our spiritual lives too.

When I was at a retreat centre a few years ago I was struck when the Spiritual Director there said that people went to the centre specifically to hear from God.  When discussing their lives with her they would describe how they are trying to “fit God” into their everyday lives, with all the other things going on around them.

This “fit God in” phrase struck quite a chord with me.  I wonder if it does with you.

There are some places you can visit, if you have not already, where there is a very different rhythm of daily life where prayer is central at particular times throughout the day (Taize and retreat centres for example) and everything else fits around that.   This is how it used to be for many people centuries ago.   We seem to have lost this rhythm as other things take its place.

I appreciate this is difficult to achieve in our still busy daily lives.  It is, however, important for our spiritual lives and growth.  It helps us to check in with God, and re-focus our priorities and purpose.  It is easy for our allegiance to drift in the busyness and temptations of the day.

I recently attended an online “rule of life mini retreat” evening run by the Diocese to re-focus on my own priorities and would recommend it to you all when the next session starts.

The Community of Hopeweavers is another way of developing a rule of life and a sanctuary space where we can be refreshed and receive from God.  If you want to find out more I have put a link at the bottom of this talk.

Perhaps this week we could reflect on where our allegiance truly lies and what sustains us.  Are we “fitting God in”, are we struggling and not letting go of things that we know we should, or not allowing him to speak or to let us get close to him and follow His way?  Are we trying to serve two masters (Matt 6) or are we showing where our allegiance lies in the places where we live and work.

 

Link for Hopeweavers:  http://www.hopeweavers.co.uk/

 

 

 

Some thoughts to reflect on – you may have your own examples:

 

Africa

I heard recently of a place in Africa where the people have nothing at all.     Most do not have a Bible – but they were worshiping for eight hours at a time.  There were no distractions, there was no sense of them “fitting God in” to their lives. It showed from all they did how much closer they were to God.

I am not suggesting eight hours – but perhaps we can all see what we spend our hours doing and how much we set aside to pray.

Matt Redman – Heart of Worship (which we will sing shortly)

Matt Redman faced a situation in the church where the Leader stopped all the music as he felt they had lost their way, it was becoming entertainment rather than worship and the church needed find their way back to “the heart of worship” – hence the song.

The leader asked “when you come through the doors (online for us today) on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?   There was an embarrassed silence, but eventually they started singing songs from the heart and without accompaniment, together with heartfelt prayers – they had found the heart of worship again. Hence the song, and which we can identify with:

Lyrics:

Verse 1
When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heartBridge
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

Chorus
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus

Verse 2
King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is yours
Every single breath

I’ll bring you more than a song
I’ll bring you more than a song
More than a song
I’ll bring you more than a song
I’ll bring you more than a song
You’re looking into my heart
Looking into my heart

 

 

Hostages

Many of you will remember those taken hostage in Lebanon in the 80’s and early 90’s- John McCarthy, Brian Keenan, Terry Waite, and perhaps lesser known Terry Anderson (from the US)

They were forced into leave everything behind their security and safety was completely lost, they were kept in blindfolds, beaten, had no control over their lives and not knowing what each day was going to bring.

I undertook to read all of their books they wrote about their experiences when they came out. –during this time they all reached their lowest point, gave up, did not struggle or rage against their situation but just reached the end of themselves.  Without exception they each felt “someone/ a presence” at their loneliest and lowest time.  They had nothing else left.

Some were Christians, some were not, but they all wanted to acknowledge this “presence” and worked out their own ways of understanding it and expressing it.

Interestingly many fell back on to their past experiences of church and liturgy which they all joined in with.

There were services twice a day, Terry Waite used his knowledge of some of the liturgy he knew so well

They celebrated their own communion service by saving scraps of bread and they made a candle from left over wax.  They had nothing – not even a bible for a long time.

Their worship truly came from the heart. They had nothing else to give.

They found something that sustained them.

Heart of Worship

Prayers

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 for ever.  Amen.

I Stand in Awe

Who can know the mind of our creator?
Who can speak of wonders yet unseen?
Who can reach the height of understanding?
To play the notes of Wisdom’s melody?

Verse 2:
Who has weighed the dust of every mountain?
Who has walked the mysteries of the deep?
Who has laid the earth on its foundation?
And who conducts the waves upon the sea?

Chorus:
I stand in awe of You
I stand in awe of You
So glorious and true
I stand in awe
I stand in awe

Verse 3:
You have seen the end from the beginning
You have been before the world began
You have reached to me within my darkness
And in the light of mercy now I see

Closing Words

Let us all go in love and peace to serve the world.

In the name of Christ. Amen

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