Due to copywrite limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.

In-person worship has resumed at the Morris United Church at 11:00 AM.  Since we are still in the midst of a pandemic and desire to keep each other as safe as possible, we ask that you sanitize your hands when you enter the building.  Masks are mandatory as is social distancing.  We will speak the liturgy but will not be singing the songs.  The musicians will play the music.  You are invited to hum along, move with the beat and meditate on the words.

We realize this is not our preferred way to worship, yet worship does not depend upon our outward appearance and distancing.  It is our connection to God and each other that sets our hearts and minds to praise and worship our glorious creator!

If you are not feeling well, we request that you remain at home and continue to worship online or with the printed service.  We understand if you do not feel secure about in-person worship and desire to worship from home.

However you choose to worship, know that we are worshipping together and that we continue to pray for each other and look out for our neighbour.


“Our world is not divided by race, color, gender or religion.  Our world is divided into wise people and fools.  And fools divide themselves by race, color, gender or religion.”

~Nelson Mandela



The Pharisees approach Jesus in a thinly veiled attempt to trap him on issues of financial obligations to the Roman government. Their question of Jesus, simplified to the extreme, is “who gets your wallet?” If Jesus answered one way, he would be guilty of treason. If he answered the other way, he would have been considered guilty of heresy in the eyes of the religious leaders. Jesus responds by issuing a challenge of his own—give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God. This statement challenges us to ponder: if God created the world and everything in it, what doesn’t belong to God? God wants a whole lot more than just your wallet. God wants your life, wallet and all!


Call to Worship

In the darkest valley,

at the banquet table;

in the hard work of life,

at the moments of ease;

in our day to-day reality,

at times set aside–

like this time, now–

for worship, for listening, for paying attention;

with every step we take:

goodness and mercy follow us; our cups overflow.

(written by Joanna Harader and posted on Spacious Faith. www.spaciousfaith.com)

CHILDREN’S SONG:    VU #289  It Only Takes A Spark


Gracious God, in love You open wide the doors and welcome us into Your presence— saints and sinners alike. You spread a table before us, filled with the richest fare— a feast of love and mercy for the body and soul. We come with joy to meet You here, to eat and drink at Your table, to taste and see Your goodness, to celebrate Your grace and mercy in our lives. May Your Spirit inspire our praise and thanksgiving, our prayers and petitions as we worship together in Your presence. In the name of Jesus Christ, our host and Lord. Amen.


We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


Before we begin, I want you to taste this whipping cream.  Taste it with the tip of your tongue, its sweetness, stick your finger in it  – feel its creaminess!  Now, lick off your finger and eat the whipping cream!  Doesn’t it taste wonderful?!  It is so smooth it just melts in your mouth!

            In today’s gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus has some people come to him to “butter him up”, flatter him, praise him, hope that he takes the bait and then hook him like a fish!  When someone tries to “butter you up”, it usually means they want something from you.  They use words that are so sweet you could be covered in whipping cream!  Oh, those words are smooth, complimentary, usually said with a smile, all the while hoping you will say yes to their request. 

Hmmm, just a minute!  That is what children will do to their parents when they want something!  Especially when they are of driving age and want to borrow the car!  “Pleeeeeeaaaaasssee mooooommmm, may I borrow the car?  You are looking so lovely this morning in your pyjamas!  Did I mention I cut the grass yesterday and cleaned my room?  So, may I borrow the car?  Huh?  Can I?  Can I?” Now that is some serious buttering up!

            Sometimes we like to be “buttered up”.  It makes us feel wanted, needed, liked.  Yet, is what others are telling us the truth, or just what we want to hear? 

Hmmm… Would it not be better to be treated honestly and with respect?  The truth can be hard sometimes.  It’s like eating one of these sour candies.  It rearranges your face and makes your lips pucker!  Some people may tell you the truth, but do so without any regard to your feelings.  Not helpful. 

            Hmmmm… what if we told the truth, AND threw in respect as well so that it would be like a whipped cream-coated sour candy?  Sometimes the truth can be hard, yet if we speak the truth with lots of respect and love, it is easier to swallow and accept.

            Perhaps that is how Jesus would like us to treat each other – with honesty, respect and love.



Sharing circle lifts indigenous voices

Our gifts for Mission & Service support community ministries as well as Healing Fund projects like the weekly sharing circle at St. Matthews Maryland.  This community ministry offers health and wellness programs to meet basic needs and help families thrive.

One of the programs is a weekly sharing circle led by an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, followed by a simple lunch.  One participant describes her experience there:

The Elder opened the sharing circle with a prayer and lit some sage, one of the traditional medicines used by Indigenous peoples.  When sage is burned, the smoke cleanses a person’s body, mind, and spirit so they can put aside their worries and be present.  Also, it is believed that smoke can carry a person’s prayers to the Creator.

Once the circle opened, we all took turns sharing anything we wanted.  The elder taught us about the Anishinaabe Creation Story, and later we talked about what we learned.

After the sharing circle we had lunch.  The bannock was delicious!  I was happy to chat with one of the Indigenous participants who was a long way from home on the west coast of British Columbia.  She first came to St. Matthews Maryland three years ago looking for services, and the warm reception encouraged her to return for programming.  Eventually, she started to volunteer and built her confidence as a helper.

I was grateful to them for providing such a safe place for the participants to build relationships, learn about health issues, and support their goals for health and wellness.

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much!  If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith.  Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.


Give praise to God, who accompanies us on our journey, who hears our cries and anguish, and who remains faithful and answers our prayers. Give glory to God, who brings life out of death and joy out of sorrow!  Feed us with your Word so that we may nourish others with your love and generosity.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 45:1-7

The prophet announces that Cyrus the Persian emperor is the one the Lord has anointed to end Israel’s exile. 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.

     1Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open  doors before him—and the gates shall not be closed:  2I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

4For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me.  5I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god.  I arm you, though you do not know me, 6so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.  7I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.


Psalm 96:1-13

R:  Ascribe to the Lord honor and power. (Ps. 96:7)

1Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2Sing to the Lord, bless the name of the Lord; proclaim God’s salvation from day to day.
3Declare God’s glory among the nations and God’s wonders among all peoples.
4For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, more to be feared than all gods. R
5As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; but you, O Lord, have made the heavens.
6Majesty and magnificence are in your presence; power and splendor are in your sanctuary.
7Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord honor and power.
8Ascribe to the Lord the honor due the holy name; bring offerings and enter the courts of the Lord. R
9Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; tremble before the Lord, all the earth.
10Tell it out among the nations: “The Lord is king!  The one who made the world so firm that it cannot be moved will judge the peoples with equity.”
11Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
12Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy at your coming, O Lord, for you come to judge the earth.
13You will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with your truth. R

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Most likely this letter is the first written by Paul. Paul gives pastoral encouragement and reassurances to new Christians living in an antagonistic environment. Their commitment of faith, love, and hope makes them a model for other new Christian communities.

1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

  To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

  Grace to you and peace.

  2We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because 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. 6And 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, 7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8For 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. 9For 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, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22

After Jesus begins teaching in the temple, religious leaders try to trap him with questions. First they ask if God’s people should pay taxes to an earthly tyrant like Caesar.

15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap  in what he said. 16So 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. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21They 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.” 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.


Let us take a moment to learn some of the players in this drama that unfolds before us:

Pharisees:  were members of a Jewish party that believed in resurrection and in following legal traditions that were ascribed, not to the Bible, but to “the traditions of the fathers.” They followed strict observance of the traditional and written law, and often thought of themselves as holier than others. They were also well-known legal experts.

Herodians:  held political power, and most scholars believe that they were a political party that supported King Herod Antipas, the Roman Empire’s ruler over much of the land of the Jews from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39.

Just about the only thing Pharisees and Herodians have in common is that they don’t like Jesus.

So, they haul out the whipped cream, throw in a little sugar add a big smile, and, secure in the knowledge that they believe themselves to be smarter than Jesus, put aside their many differences for a moment, and come together to pose Jesus a question that they hope will put him between a rock and a hard place: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

If Jesus answers that the census taxes are lawful, he will offend the Pharisees and the many in the crowds who hate the Roman Empire’s oppression.  Everyone had to pay a tax.  On the other hand, if Jesus speaks out against the tax, it won’t take long for the Herodians, who are loyal to Rome, to take news of such provocative talk back to the powers that be. It is a well-laid trap, and all the more so because it is prefaced by a flattering reminder that Jesus has a reputation for fearless truth-telling, not political maneuvering.

Jesus is not fooled by the “buttering up”.  He does agree to answer the question.  But first, he manipulates the issue ever so gently by asking to see the coin used to pay the tax. This is a clever move because it allows all onlookers, including the reader, to see for themselves what Jesus already knows: Jesus is the one being put on the spot, but it is his questioners who are more deeply enmeshed with, and party to, the exploitative economics of the Roman Empire. Jesus’ pockets are empty, but his opponents have no trouble supplying a denarius on demand.

When they produce the coin of the realm, Jesus puts off his answer another moment in order to make one more thing clear: “‘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’”.

The consensus at the time seems to have been that Jesus managed to wiggle out of the trap, but it’s not clear that anyone yet has figured out precisely Jesus’ point. Some people point to this passage as proof that God and politics should be kept separate — that things like taxes have absolutely nothing to do with one’s theological commitments. Others say that this story proves that religion is a matter of the heart, and that Jesus doesn’t really care about mundane things like what you do with your money.  Some have cited this passage as proof that Jesus taught that the law is the law, and our duty as Christians is to support the government no matter what. All three of these interpretations are questionable.

Like a lot of things Jesus said, these words are hard to pin down to just one meaning; they seem to gather more layers of meaning the more one contemplates the words. The more we think about this saying, the more it shows us.  Jesus has already spoken on the subject of money and divided loyalties: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth”. Whatever Jesus is getting at here, he must not be describing a compromise that divides human loyalties neatly between Yahweh and the emperor.

By highlighting the physical features of the denarius used to pay the tax, Jesus gives us a number of things to think about. The image of the emperor stamped into the coin’s surface, along with the blasphemous inscription that Caesar is a god, calls to mind the first commandment. We are to have no other gods but Yahweh.  By pointing out that his opponents possess and display such an object within the Temple grounds, Jesus seems to raise, not lower, the stakes of the conversation about money and human loyalty. The issue at stake here is nothing less than idolatry.

When we think about Jesus highlighting the physicality of that denarius — the coin created by human hands for human purposes, and the image of Caesar imprinted on it — it’s hard to ignore the connection to those words from the beginning of Genesis about what God said the first time God created a human being: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”.

Confronted with the question of human loyalty and the coin bearing the image of the earthly emperor, it’s easy to picture Jesus confronting each of his opponents with an unspoken question hanging in the air: “Whose image do you bear?”

Whatever we render to Caesar, or to the retirement fund, or to the offering basket during worship, we can never afford to forget this: we belong entirely to God. We may divide our budget, but we must never divide our allegiance. The coin of our realm bears the image of leaders past, but each of us bears another. Our Emperor said: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” We must never forget to render to God the things that are God’s – body, soul, heart and mind.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  More Voices #134  There Was A Child In Galilee


God, we come into Your presence with praise and thanksgiving for Your faithful love.  Your love never fails—not even when we turn away from You:  when we ignore Your invitation, or desert You for gods of our own making.  Even then You do not abandon us, but reach out—again and again—

inviting us back into relationship once more.  Keep us ever turning back to you.

God, in your mercy; hear our prayer.


As You welcome us, so You welcome our prayers.  We bring them to You with confidence, knowing that You will hear and answer.  We pray for the world You created, and the people who share it with us:  for those caught up in war or violent conflict, for farmers struggling to adapt to the changing climate, for the millions in our world who are starving, for the millions who are chronically hungry for greater action on our part to feed the hungry, for those who harden their hearts against the poor, for all who work to eliminate world hunger, for all our neighbours, both known and unknown to us.  We pray for our family members, friends and community members who are in need of your presence and healing hand:  Mike, Brooke, Tracy, Gordon, Carolyn, Douglas.

God, in your mercy; hear our prayer.


Pour out Your Spirit, unite us as one human family.  Fix our hearts and minds on what is true and honourable and right, as we search for better ways to serve your people and work together to end hunger.  Keep us faithful to the call we have received in Christ Jesus, our Lord, extending Your loving invitation to the world around us.

God, in your mercy; hear our prayer.


All these things, and whatever else you see that we need, grant to us, gracious God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Adapted from Banquet of Praise (1990), published by Bread for the World.



As you have been loved – love. As you have been welcomed – welcome. As you have been fed – feed. As you have received – give. And may the boundless love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit be always with you. Amen.

SENDING SONG:  MV #138  My Love Colours Outside The Lines

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