October 22, 2023 – Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, October 22, at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EDT on Sunday, October 22.
Previous livestreams and other worship and musical content is available on our YouTube channel. You can also check out our entire worship services archive. Our SoundCloud channel has yet more music and worship content.
Call to Worship
One: Let us sing to the LORD a new song.
All: We will bless God’s name from day to day.
One: Let us declare God’s marvelous deeds among all the people;
All: For God is great and greatly to be praised.
One: Let us praise God for God’s strength and beauty.
All: We will bring God honour and glory as we worship God’s holy name.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
“When morning gilds the skies” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 438). Original German words (1828), anonymous. English words (1854) by English clergyman and hymnwriter Edward Caswall (1814–1878). Music (1868; tune: “Laudes Domini”) by English composer and conductor Joseph Barnby (1838–1896). Descant by English musician and composer Reginald Sparshatt Thatcher (1888–1957). Words, music and descant in the public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
your mysterious presence stretches to the furthest reaches of the universe, yet you draw near to us in Christ Jesus. In him, you walk beside us, guiding us with wisdom, loving us with boundless grace. We praise you that your love embraces the whole creation, yet you find a place and a purpose for us mortals. Your Spirit gives us the energy and insight we need to serve you. Creator, Christ and Spirit, we are humbled in your presence. In our worship we offer you our love and loyalty, now and always.
we confess we need your mercy. We claim to be your people, but we forget to love as you do. We claim to seek your guidance, but we follow our own ways. Forgive us, O God, amend who we are and direct who you would have us be for the sake of Christ, our Saviour and Friend.
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 forever.
Declaration of Pardon
The mercy of our God is from everlasting to everlasting. In Christ Jesus, we are forgiven and set free to begin again. Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Guildwood Senior Choir Presents
Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
“Spirit, Spirit of gentleness” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 399). Words and music (both 1975; tune “Spirit” or “Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness”) by American songwriter and composer James Keith Manley (1940–). Words and music copyright © 1975 James K. Manley; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Matthew 22:15–22 <– this links to on-line texts of the NRSV bible
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 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. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this and whose title?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed, and they left him and went away.
The scripture reading is followed by:
One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.
The narrative we encountered in today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew illustrates the intense hostility, animosity, and indignation that the religious and political authorities harbored towards Jesus. To gain a deeper understanding of the story, it’s helpful to consider the events in the preceding chapter.
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruits. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
The Pharisees were deeply troubled by Jesus and wanted to get rid of him, yet they faced a significant challenge in doing so. Jesus was held in high esteem by the crowds, the very same people who would later crucify him. At that particular time, the crowds shielded Jesus. Because in the eyes of the people, a prophet was one who acted as a divine messenger, guiding God’s people towards a brighter future, much like the roles of Moses, Isaiah, and Elijah.
In their quest to eliminate Jesus, the Pharisees had to first convince the crowds that he was not a prophet, but an unqualified teacher. They wanted to demonstrate that Jesus’ teachings were riddled with contradictions and falsehoods.
The Pharisees send their disciples along with the Herodians to entrap and to embarrass Jesus. The Pharisees were a religious party, and the Herodians were a political party. Those two groups did not like each other. The Herodians were supporters of Herod Antipas, who collaborated with the Romans. The Pharisees, on the other hand, taught obedience to the Mosaic Law and strongly opposed Roman occupation. Yet, they come together in this situation because Jesus was their common enemy.
Verse 16 to 17, 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. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
Here the Pharisees and the Herodians demands Jesus to take a stance, choose sides. In this situation, Jesus could simply deny their question by saying, “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t have time for you now, can you come back in another day?” “I know what you are doing, but I don’t like the question you are asking.”
However, this is the path that Jesus selects, a practice he frequently follows. He extends a welcome to everyone, including those who hold different viewpoints, and even those who might potentially betray him, akin to Judas Iscariot. Jesus makes the choice to listen, to accept questions arising from anger, jealousy, or hatred. Jesus never shies away from offering his opinions or rebukes, he does not shy away from engaging a debate, argument, or disagreement, yet he embraces and listens to all who approach him. This embodies the essence of Jesus, the very heart of Jesus Christ. We can even argue that is the essence of our Christian faith.
This is how Jesus chooses to respond to this angry and hostile group of people who are ready to cast stones at him, verse 19, “Show me the coin used for the tax.”
The Pharisees and the Herodians ask, “Tell us what you think….” Jesus responds to them by saying, “Show me the coin… show me what you have and what you use.”
Do you see what Jesus is doing here? Jesus is not responding the question he is asked; he is transforming the question they are asking. The Pharisees and the Herodians desire to engage in a contentious debate and argument with Jesus, urging him to choose sides. Jesus extends an invitation to them and to all of us to show what we believe and what we practice. The Pharisees demand Jesus to tell them what he thinks and engages in a debate, but Jesus invites them to reflect on their own practice, beliefs, and thoughts. Do our actions align with our convictions? Do our practices contract our words?
Do you see that subtle and minor shift? The question of “Tell me what you think,” becomes the question of “Show me what you believe.” Although it may seem like a minor change this small, but we also know from our life journey that how that small change can yield a life affirming transformation.
That is not to disregard the importance of our thoughts, what we believe, what we profess or what we think. Certainly, faith always encourages us to think deeper and think healthy. (…omitted)
Jesus invites us to take another step, verse 21, “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus receives the divisive question stemming from anger and hostility, “Tell us whether you are with us or with them and transforms into the profound question of faith, “Where is God in all this?” “What about God?” In the passage we’ve encountered today from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus doesn’t provide a swift and uncomplicated answer but instead presents us with another question we should never stop asking….
May we present our gifts to God in response to what we have received from God?
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Our offering will now be received.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306). Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.
Prayer of dedication
God of abundance, we bring what we have to share, a portion of your goodness to us. Bless our gifts and our lives, so that generosity and justice will join hands, and your goodness touches those in need, in Jesus’ name.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
God of our imaginations and insights,
We thank you for all the ways you inspire human minds to create things which bring beauty and joy, as well as relief and healing for the earth and its people. Guide those who explore possibilities and develop new products to consider the costs as well as the benefits. Inspire us all to consider the effects of what we enjoy on the land and the lives of others.
God of neighbours and neighbourhoods,
we praise you for those who work to maintain healthy communities: for teachers and librarians, healthcare workers and administrators, coaches and construction workers, farmers and labourers, store clerks and wait staff. We take them for granted until there are too few. Give each worker a sense of their value to the common good and sustain them in their efforts. Make us good neighbours to all who serve our community and remind us to say thank you.
God of comfort and compassion,
We remember before you those facing illness or waiting for treatment,… those who worry about winter expenses or finding shelter,… those who are grieving the loss of someone close,… and those whose mental health is under pressure these days…. Awaken us to the needs of those at risk in our communities and help us respond with your comfort and compassion.
And now with gratitude for your love poured into the world through Christ Jesus, Amen.
“We are one in the Spirit” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 471). Words and music completed 1966 by American priest and author Peter Scholtes (1938–2009). Words and music © Copyright F.E.L Publications, assigned to The Lorenz Corporation, 1991, Dayton, OH. All rights reserved. Words and music used in the Book of Praise by permission, license #401891. Words and music used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
“Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2023-10-24 22:55 – Added Sermon text.