the Word: 19th Sunday after Pentecost

God speaks this week through these scriptures:

Isaiah 45:1-7An earthly ruler as the instrument of God’s will
Psalm 96:1-9Ascribe to the Lord honor and power.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10Thanksgiving for the church at Thessalonica
Matthew 22:15-22A teaching on giving to the emperor and to God

In Isaiah, God uses the Gentile ruler Cyrus to accomplish divine purposes. The Lord makes this choice so that the whole world will recognize this Lord as the only God. Persia had a god of light and a god of darkness; the Lord claims sovereignty over both light and darkness.

Paul praises the Christian community for its turn from Roman civil religion to the worship of the true God, despite persecution, and he encourages their faith in the resurrection in Christ. Their commitment of faith, love, and hope makes them a model for other new Christian communities.

When the Pharisees try to trap Jesus, he tells them to give the emperor what belongs to him and to God what belongs to God.

To gather for worship reminds us that our ultimate allegiance is to God rather than to any earthly authority. Created in the image of God, we offer our entire selves in the service of God and for the sake of the world.

Come to worship this Sunday, to hear Matthew’s words about allegiance to country and to God, and join with the community to pray for wisdom to be God’s people in our time and place.

—from and Gail Ramshaw—

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