Sunday Worship, 18 October 2020

CCL 125049              Charity No SC002937


  • Welcome
  • Hymn             153 Great is thy faithfulness Tune Faithfulness (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
  • All age time
  • Prayer
  • Reading         Matthew 22: 15-22 (Good News Bible)
  • Hymn             251 I, The Lord Of Sea And Sky Tune Here I am Lord (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
  • Reflection
  • Prayer for others
  • Hymn             363 We Have A Gospel To Proclaim Tune Walton (Fulda) (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
  • Blessing


Welcome and let us worship God

‘What does the LORD your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the LORD your God, to conform to all his ways, to love him, and to serve him with all your heart and soul’

Deuteronomy 10: 12

Watch our service from 10:30am on YouTube:

Hymn 153

All age time (for ages 0-100)

Today’s Bible story

In today’s Bible story Jesus has to answer a trick question about paying taxes

Something to do:

If you have coins in the house, use a blank sheet of paper and a pencil to ‘rub’ the coins front and back and see what different ones look like

Something to think about

  • If you were Chancellor or Finance Secretary
    • would you increase government expenditure, reduce government expenditure, or refocus where the expenditure goes?
    • would you raise taxes, lower taxes, or re-arrange what is taxed?
  • When there is talk about government expenditure or taxation, do you naturally think about what is best for the wider community, or what is best for you?

Opening Prayer

Lord, you are our God

Help us to recognise how much we depend on you

You have given us life

 and enabled us to think about its meaning and purpose

you have given us the ability to choose to do what is good

  what is positive, what is constructive

and you have given us the power

 to turn from what is hurtful and negative

In a world where there are many temptations to follow other ways

 you have given us your word to guide us

 we have the life and teaching of your Son

the example of many faithful Christians

and we have the constant presence of your Spirit

Yet we confess: there are times we have gone astray

 when we have heard voices other than yours

 when we have followed ways that are not your ways

and we are sorry

Forgive us

Restore us

Your presence transforms us and our lives:

 with you we need never be afraid

Nothing can separate us from your love

We have known your hand holding us fast

 your steps marking out a way for us:

 and we long to keep knowing you

 knowing you more and more.

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

Bible reading           Matthew 22: 15-22

The Pharisees went off and made a plan to trap Jesus with some questions. Then they sent to him some of their disciples and some members of Herod’s party. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you tell the truth. You teach the truth about God’s will for humanity, without worrying about what people think, because you pay no attention to a person’s status. Tell us, then, what do you think? Is it against our Law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, or not?”

Jesus, however, was aware of their evil plan, and so he said, “You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin for paying the tax!”

They brought him the coin, and he asked them, “Whose face and name are these?”

“The Emperor’s,” they answered.

So Jesus said to them, “Well, then, pay the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay God what belongs to God.”

When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Hymn 251


What one of the disciples might have been thinking after he heard the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees

I don’t know why they are asking Jesus about paying taxes: it’s not as if he has much money. Well, I do know really: they are trying to trap him. If he says, ‘No, Jews shouldn’t pay taxes to the Roman authorities’, they’ll denounce him as a rebel, a terrorist, a threat to public peace. If he says, ‘Yes’, they’ll denounce him for collaborating with the Occupying Power. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t!

None of us likes paying taxes. Who gets up in the morning and says, ‘Oh, please, please, please, I want to give some of my hard-earned pay to the Government?” On the other hand, governments have the power to make positive changes for the good of us all – they can improve things like roads, the water supply, drainage; they could help unemployed people find work; they could provide assistance for ‘the poor, the widow and the fatherless’, people who are struggling to survive; they could ensure that we are safe from threats at home and abroad (no more muggings on the Jerusalem to Jericho road, peaceful travel between Galilee and Judaea).

But what do the authorities in Jerusalem (Jewish and Roman) do with all the money they get: line their own pockets! I heard Jesus say something along the lines of, ‘To every person who has something, even more will be given, and they will have more than enough; but the person who has nothing, even the little they have will be taken away from them.’ Need I say more?

The whole system of paying taxes is a mess. Look at that guy Zac we met in Jericho (or even Matt standing over there). They enter a contract with the government to raise so much tax, and it is left up to them to decide how to do it. There is nothing in the contract about covering their costs, or giving them a ‘reasonable’ return. They can charge the tax-payers what they like. Let’s say they have to raise 20,000 denarii: that could be 200 people paying 100 each. If they were allowed a 5% mark-up to cover costs we might be asked for 105 each, but in practice we’re more likely to be charged 150, 200 or 300. It may be legal but it’s not right!

I don’t think Jesus is an anarchist who wants to do away with ‘government’ as a feature of life. Rather, I think he sees it as a part of God’s plan for the world, providing safety and security for people, to improve their quality of life and provide a ‘safety-net’ when people need help. I don’t think he sees a division between loyalty to God and loyalty to country and government – rather he sees the state, its leaders and its structures, all countries and their societies, all individuals, being accountable to God for their actions, that all are expected to live by his values and standards.

Listening to Jesus answering those questions from the Pharisees, I think he’s better than a political leader ever could be in dodging the awkward questions, and yet making his point.

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father

We pray for all who are involved in planning

 public expenditure and taxation

 at international, central or local government level

may they be inspired to strive for your priorities by your values

We pray for the situations around the world

 especially in poorer countries

 where there is widespread corruption

 and political leaders syphon off public money

 or international grants

 for their own purposes 

We pray that in all areas where money is involved

 – trade, business, finance

   scams, money laundering, theft, bribery, blackmail –

your values and your standards may prevail

We pray for all who are ill,

 those who look after them

 and those who worry about them

those waiting for or receiving treatment

 and those for whom there is no treatment

those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one

those who are worried about home, work or money

 a friend or a relative

those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters

those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home

those who long to live in peace and safety

those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

We pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

We pray for your church

 our own congregation

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 the world-wide church

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

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 debts,

 as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation;

 but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

 the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Hymn 363


God the Father sends you out

 to be his witnesses wherever you go

 to work to bring healing and wholeness in all you do

and the blessing of God Almighty

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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