OCTOBER 18, 2020 SUNDAY
Dear Beloved Sisters and Brothers,
A few comments about the Collect – please read it slowly and carefully. Pray it out loud. Listen closely to the words you say to God. In these days when this world, the nations feel so out of control, may we be comforted and reminded that God continuously reveals divine glory, whether we see it or not. Our existence as this community of Christ’s Body depends upon God’s grace — and our faith, deepening and growing in Christ for the sake of others.
The reading from Exodus tells of Moses’ ongoing role as mediator between Yahweh and the children of Israel. Moses speaks on behalf of each to the other. Their sinfulness and rejection of Yahweh’s guidance makes the pain of judgment inevitable. Moses argues with Yahweh, making a convincing case Yahweh needs to expand divine care for these people Moses represents, and Yahweh set free. We also learn that Yahweh will not show his face to Moses, but allows Moses to glimpse his back after he passes by. These are ways the writer expresses the human qualities of a God who loves and understands, and loves us enough to shape and form you and me into the person we have been created to be — a theme picked up in Paul and the Gospel.
The Psalm praises the kingship of Yahweh, who rules through human agents – Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each one is a mediator of God’s purposes to the people. By their faithfulness Yahweh’s mercy sustains his people. Ultimately Yahweh bestows grace and forgiving love.
Paul begins his letter to the church in Thessaloniki with a different approach to evangelism. In contrast to evangelism as a unilateral proclamation of the gospel to a passive recipient, Paul and his associates change because of the witness of the Thessalonians. They readily accept the Gospel and in so doing become a living proclamation of God’s salvific work in their lives to others. In spite of persecution and hardship, they have remained faithful to the Word preached, and lived so that people readily repent from idol worship.
The gospel in Matthew for Sunday is familiar. Pharisees and Herodians unite to try and trip up Jesus – a question that could divide his followers, and place him on Rome’s Most Wanted List. Rather answering their question, Jesus asks one of his own. Now the trappers become the trapped. “Any of you have a tax coin? Okay, whose head is on it, and what’s his title?” Jesus is not advocating here for separation of “church and state.” What becomes clear as the story leading to Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection imply — the door that opens to death has become to passage way to new life. All of life is reshaped in response to God, present fully in Jesus. We are baptized and liberated in Christ – and the God who liberates still has definitive and uncompromising demands of us. God’s grace and love cast out fear. When we realize this, our desire then is let Caesar have what’s his, and follow Jesus.
Read and pray the scripture texts for Sunday. Listen carefully for ways God is speaking to you – nudging you gently. We read scripture for more than gaining knowledge and information. We read and pray scripture as God’s word to lift us from death into life everlasting now.
Blessings we shall look forward to gathering in our homes to participate together in our service of worship this Sunday, Fr. Steve
20th Sunday After Pentecost – October 18, 2020
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
1 The Lord is King;
let the people tremble; *
he is enthroned upon the cherubim;
let the earth shake.
2 The Lord is great in Zion; *
he is high above all peoples.
3 Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome; *
he is the Holy One.
4 “O mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity; *
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”
5 Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
and fall down before his footstool; *
he is the Holy One.
6 Moses and Aaron among his priests,
and Samuel among those who call upon his Name, *
they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; *
they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.
8 O Lord our God, you answered them indeed; *
you were a God who forgave them,
yet punished them for their evil deeds.
9 Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
and worship him upon his holy hill; *
for the Lord our God is the Holy One.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead– Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus 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 the emperor, 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, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.