A call to worship:
I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:5). Come, let us worship the creator God
who made each one of us and calls us by name.
A prayer of approach:
God of integrity,
May your word sink deep into our hearts today and move us.
May it leave its mark on our minds and inspire us.
May it imprint your desires into our actions and guide us.
May it instil in us a sense of belonging to that which is true and beautiful,
so that we draw others closer to you and they too feel a sense of belonging.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
StF 594 Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us
Lord Jesus Christ
You have come to us
You are one with us
Cleansing our souls from all their sin,
Pouring Your love and goodness in;
Jesus, our love for you we sing,
Lord Jesus Christ,
You have come to us,
Born as one with us,
Led out to die on Calvary,
Risen from death to set us free;
Living Lord Jesus, help us see
You are Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ
I would come to you
live my life for you
Son of God
All your commands I know are true;
Your many gifts will make me new;
Into my life your power breaks through,
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:
2 I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
3 I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
4 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.
5 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,
6 so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
1 Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendour and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
1 Thessalonians 1
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ faith
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We 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.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 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, 9 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, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Paying the poll-tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘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 poll-tax to Caesar or not?’
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, 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.’
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Prayers of thanksgiving
Creator God, for the living word of your love, we praise you.
For the cross where Christ took on our sin, we praise you.
For the empty tomb where he rose and overcame death, we praise you.
For your holy spirit that emboldened your first disciples, we praise you.
And for giving us the privilege of bearing your mark of belonging, we praise you – today, tomorrow and always.
Prayers of intercession
Lord God, in our corner of the world it isn’t easy to really feel the pain of persecution for our faith, but we know that it happens. We pray for those who are persecuted and punished, violated and scarred because of their faith. We pray for those who despite these things speak out and speak up, and witness to you, the living God. We pray for the families of these people that they may be given strength and support in their own faith and discipleship. We pray for those who teach us of you, who unpack your truths, who explain what living a Christian life is and how to follow you.
We pray for those who guide us in times of struggles with our faith, those who stand by us in times of denial and bewilderment. We pray for those who are dying in the faith, and those who are struggling to find their faith before they die. For these and all your witnesses, Lord, we pray.
The Lord's Prayer
Please use the version that you prefer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
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.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
Time to reflect:
In Matthew’s passage the paying of taxes to Rome was a contentious issue. Generally, locals were employed to collect the taxes on behalf of the Roman leaders, and they were viewed by their peers as traitors. This was made worse because the role of tax-collector was unpaid, and so there was a custom of collecting a greater amount than that demanded by the emperor, the surplus being kept as a wage for their work.
The question asked of Jesus was therefore intended to cause trouble, Jesus was presented with a likely no-win situation. Speaking in favour of taxes could diminish his popularity among his followers and set him once again at odds with the religious leaders. Speaking against would set him firmly against the Herodian supporters of Rome. Jesus’ own question also had the potential to cause trouble. There were various titles given to the emperor. Some of these – Lord, Saviour, Son of God – were clearly offensive to the people. Jesus’ answer, however, requires his hearers to reflect, to pray, to use their consciences. However unpopular, there are things that belong to the emperor. More significantly, however, is that all things belong to God. The coins have the mark of the emperor; all of creation has the mark of its maker. This also requires Jesus’ hearers to reflect, to pray, to use their consciences, to consider how this works out in practice.
God can use whoever, or whatever, is necessary to achieve his purposes. God can work through the emperor just as he worked through Cyrus in today’s Isaiah passage. Being the people of God entails joining in with what God is doing.
Being dual citizen’s, being part of the UK requires that we pay our taxes properly for the services and benefits we receive, but our primary citizenship and commitment is to the Kingdom of God trying our best to live as Jesus would want us to live in this 21st century world in order to bring about Gods kingdom here on earth.
StF 662 – Have you heard God’s voice
Have you heard God’s voice; has your heart been stirred? Are you still prepared to follow? Have you made a choice to remain and serve, though the way be rough and narrow?
Refrain (except the last time) Will you walk the path that will cost you much and embrace the pain and sorrow? Will you trust in One who entrusts to you the disciples of tomorrow?
Will you use your voice; will you not sit down when the multitudes are silent? Will you make a choice to stand your ground when the crowds are turning violent?
In your city streets will you be God’s heart? Will you listen to the voiceless? Will you stop and eat, and when friendships start, will you share your faith with the faithless?
Will you watch the news with the eyes of faith and believe it could be different? Will you share your views using words of grace? Will you leave a thoughtful imprint?
We will walk the path that will cost us much and embrace the pain and sorrow. We will trust in One who entrusts to us the disciples of tomorrow.
A sending out prayer:
Lord, this day and every day, may we touch many lives for you by our living, by allowing your love to flow in and through us, reaching all among whom we live, and work, and play.
May we be generous with our time and resources, and may you be glorified in all we do.
In Jesus’ name we pray.