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Weekly Bible Readings and Reflections 20th Sunday after PENTECOST 18th October 2020

READINGS 

Exodus 33:12-23: Moses pleads with God for God’s presence to go with the Israelites, which is what will distinguish them from other nations, and God promises to do so. Then Moses asks to see God’s glory and God agrees to pass by Moses, speaking God’s name, while hiding Moses in a cleft in the rock, and then to then allow Moses to see God’s back, but not God’s face.

Psalm 99: A call to honour and worship God, because God is holy and mighty, and has answered Moses, Aaron and  Samuel when they prayed, and has shown that God is forgiving and just.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10: Paul expresses his joy and gratitude for the Thessalonian church, for their faith, hope and love, and for the way they have witnessed to Christ in their part of the world, spreading the word they received in the Holy Spirit’s power, in spite of their suffering.

Matthew 22:15-22: The religious leaders try to trap Jesus by asking him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus responds by asking for a coin, and asking whose inscription is on it. When they reply that it is Caesar’s, Jesus tells them to give Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give God what is God’s.

 

THOUGHTS FOR THIS WEEK – 20th Sunday after PENTECOST 18th October 2020

Rev Tania writes:

The readings this week bring together two powerful and complementary ideas. In the continuous Old Testament reading, we are invited with Moses to seek God’s glory and to rely on God’s presence to empower and guide us as we interact with our world. In the Gospel Jesus challenges us to “render to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s”. In the intersection of these two ideas lies an amazing call – to enter the world in intimate connection with God, such that God’s glory is revealed through us in all times and places, even as we seek to maintain a clear distinction between our role as people of faith, and our role as citizens of the world.

One of the most important questions we face as we seek to follow Christ and manifest God’s reign in our world in some way, is how we respond to the God we’re seeking to serve.

All of the readings this week challenge us to keep God in the place in our lives and thoughts that is rightfully God’s. Moses asks for God’s presence to go with God’s people, and for himself to see God’s glory, revealing a recognition of his and Israel’s need for God to be acknowledged and worshipped and responded to as God.

In the Psalm people of all nations are called to honour and worship God as God deserves, and in the epistle, the Thessalonian Christians are celebrated for their faithful worship and service of God and God’s purposes which reveals their true acknowledgement of God.

In the light of all this, Jesus’ response to the attempted entrapment of the religious leaders is a powerful and challenging word. Where they have missed God and God’s new, creative work among them, and have fallen into domesticating God to their purposes, Jesus challenges them to put God into the proper place of sovereignty and majesty in their lives.

Essentially Jesus turns their question on its head and bypasses the tax question, confronting the leaders with the insignificance of things like taxation in the face of God’s greater claim on our worship and our lives.

In a faith culture in which it is often popular for God to be reduced to simply a divine friend, or “the man up there”, or a “higher” part of ourselves, this call to recognise God’s transcendence is important and life-giving.

May God reveal God’s glory to us and through us as we worship as we start with God, stay with God and end with God. In prayer, Rev Tania.