Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of 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 of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.


Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.

~Morihei Ueshiba


Isaiah describes a time in which God’s work in the world happens through the service of Cyrus, founder of the Achaemenid Empire (Isa. 45:1-7). Throughout time, people and organizations have justified their use of power in a variety of ways, including sometimes appealing to a God-ordained right. But power is a slippery thing, which the prophets of the Bible often warned about (even in this passage, the prophet Isaiah shows through the voice of God that Cyrus may be about to conquer nations, but it’s really God who is in charge!). It might take some training to evaluate who has power and why and how that power might be used. The organization Agency by Design has produced a protocol of questions for evaluating people, systems, power, and participation. This type of power analysis can be helpful for critical evaluation of power imbalances and identifying issues of justice.   


    We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

    Gracious God, we pray for the courage to be our best selves and to give of our best selves. Help us to heal each other, to be allies to those who most need allies.  We pray for the health and well-being of all people and of this place. Guide us, Heavenly Spirit, on new and different paths, paths of love, understanding, compassion, and commitment to serving others, loving all those known to us, and known only to you, your children in whom your Spirit resides. Amen.


In the meeting of our lives,
be the focus of all that we are.
In the singing of the hymns,
the prayers that we shall make,
the reading of your Word
and the preaching of the same.
Speak to us, encourage and forgive us.
In the meeting of our lives, Lord, be the focus of all that we are.

CHILDREN’S SONG:  The Trees Of The Field


Lord God, in this short time together, open our ears and our eyes to see your vision for this place and our part within it. Teach us, hear our prayers and enable us for service wherever you might take us, to your praise and glory. Amen.

MISSION & SERVICE:  Ecumenical Church Loan Fund: Anert’s Story

     Fifty-three-year-old Anert Mwenda is a bubbly and cheerful clothing trader in Syokimau, Kenya. Her path from housewife to entrepreneur has been filled with barriers, but with the help of Mission and Service partner Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF), her business is flourishing.

     After recognizing that her personal savings weren’t meeting the rising needs of her business, Anert turned to a self-help group set up by ECLOF Kenya. While taking training programs on business and entrepreneurship, her business grew alongside her skillset. Today, her business employs three workers.

     When her husband passed away after a long illness, Anert and her five children were faced with tremendous hospital debt. The loan from ECLOF Kenya alleviated some financial strain, while her peers and ECLOF’s loan officer provided emotional support to help her process her grief.

     Your gifts to Mission and Service make it possible for partners to walk alongside women like Anert as they work to achieve their entrepreneurial goals.

     Anert says, “ECLOF Kenya is a good listening partner who is ready to walk the journey of possibilities and impossibilities with their customers.” ECLOF shares that they feel Anert’s commitment, perseverance. and passion have truly made it possible for her to achieve her dreams.


     A number of years ago I found a purse.  It was left in a woman’s bathroom.  Rather than leave it there, I took it to the lost and found centre at the mall.  And what do you think the person in charge did?  They looked in the purse to see if there was anything in it with a name and a phone number.  That way, they could phone the person and let them know they had the purse.  Without that name and number, that purse could have remained lost!

     God doesn’t need a piece of paper, a photo or a phone number to find us if we get lost – because we are never lost!!  We are not an accessory that God takes shopping, such as a purse.  We ARE God’s children.  God has said in our baptism, “You are my child.  I love you.  I accept you.  I forgive you.  I hug you.”  No matter where we are, how we are feeling, who is with us, God is right there beside us.  We can talk to God anywhere, anytime. 

     As an adult, I got lost driving around in a city I did not know.  I was worried.  I was a tiny bit scared.  What did I do?  I talked to God the whole time, stopped and checked a map (yep, it was before cell phones were invented), used my brain, got back on track and carried on.  Then, I thanked God for the help, turned on the radio and sang my way to where I was headed!

     Never alone, my peeps.  Always God’s.  That gives comfort. 

     Thanks God!  


We worship a God of Promise, whose saving Grace brought a people from captivity into a land of promise, whose enduring love still leads us from places of captivity into a promise of peace, forgiveness and eternal life. The promises of God endure forever. The promises of God will be fulfilled. Amen.


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

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

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. 
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. 
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.

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.

HYMN:  VU 220  Praise To The Lord, The Almighty


My thanks to Pastor David Hunter, who serves Peace Lutheran in Vernon, BC, for sharing his sermon.

The game of chess requires more than an understanding of the playing board and the specific characteristics of each piece’s movements on the board. It is not enough to know that the bishop moves diagonally, and the knight takes two steps straight forward or back or sideways and then turns 90 degrees for one more step in that direction. Players need to be aware of all the pieces on the board and understand where your pieces and your opponent’s pieces may move. Strategic moves are made by anticipating the most likely response to that move, and being prepared with an answer. To play the game well one has to plan at least three moves ahead of the present one.

I am no expert at chess, but when I hear today’s gospel, it makes me think of the subtle strategic moves of a chess game.  This was no casual question being lobbed to Jesus by the Pharisees and Herodians. To begin with, a collaboration between these two distinct groups was suspicious. They were not typically on the same page. The Pharisees were critical of Roman influence on their homeland, but the Herodians were participants in it, relying on the Empire to support the prominent ruling Herodian dynasty who were puppets of Rome. Getting these two groups on the same page required agreeing on a common interest, which in this case was to impair Jesus’ authority and crush his ”kingdom of God” movement by asking him a politically driven question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?.

This clever question was asked strategically to trap Jesus. They were confident that this question would trouble and alienate him because he would find it difficult to answer either way. A simple “yes” seemingly contradicts his general teaching about God since true loyalty is rendered to God only. A dauntless “no” will

make him an anti-imperial radical revolutionary. They expected Jesus to choose an “all-or-nothing” position whose logic is “If you give everything to God, there is nothing you can spare to give to Caesar, or if you are loyal to Caesar, you are betraying God.”[1] Either way, the interrogators expect that whichever answer he gives Jesus will weaken his Kingdom of God message or he will cast himself as a dangerous opponent to the Roman Empire; too radical to safely follow.

The Pharisees and Herodians baited their trap with honey.  “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.” It is an encouragement to resist bending a knee to Caesar and deny paying tribute to anyone other than God. It is an affirmation of the God-only-loyalty which they believe he will endorse.

Isn’t it interesting that as Christians we are often pushed into these either/or dilemmas by others. Our faith is often used to build expectations of what social positions we should take. It is assumed that Christians will stand against the moral behaviours that have traditionally been condemned by the mainstream of society.

The latest example was the anti SOGI demonstration in September. SOGI stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which is an approach to practicing broad inclusion in schools and trying to provide a space where all will feel safe.  The premise of the opposition movement is that young children are being sexualized and systematically confused about gender.  Allegations of harmful literature being introduced into school curriculum are designed to stir up mass fears about institutional brainwashing of children. Fear has proven to be a strong rallying cry for many people all over the world, including here in Canada.

The actual reality of what is happening in schools is that young people are being taught to be more accepting of others and inclusive when it comes to people who are different than them.

A teacher told me that children in grade 3 may be taught, for example, not to think negatively about others, even if they have two dads or two moms. ALL PEOPLE ARE WORTHY OF RESPECT. All children are welcome and belong in school, where they should feel safe and free of bullying.  Most of us can remember during our own upbringing and school experience that some people were treated like outsiders because they looked different or had a different ethnic heritage or mannerisms. Modern Christians will recognize that we can do better at showing God’s love to all people than we have done in the past and it may just begin with affirming the people who traditionally feel excluded and devalued by the social systems we take for granted. So, when people expect Christians to uphold traditional moral values, we may need to go back a little deeper into our faith tradition to embrace the radical love of Jesus who included the outcasts of society in his circle of love.

In spite of this, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees and Herodians may seem harsh when he says to them, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?”  They are called hypocrites because they know and teach who God is, but they do not do what they teach. Jesus doesn’t buy the ‘either/or’ option of their entrapping question. Instead, he asks them to show him the coin used for the tax, which is a denarius—the usual daily wage for typical labour. He knows that everyday life is hard and that this coin represents hard work. His followers are part of the local economy no matter how complex or abusive it may be.

Recognizing the Roman Empire’s economy and politics, Jesus asks: “Whose head is this and whose title?” The Pharisees answered, “Caesar’s,” which is a correct answer. Then, Jesus said to them: “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus’ answer is both evasive but penetrating.

On the one hand, he averted the Pharisees’ trap. But on the other hand, it rings true to all his hearers, both his followers and his opponents.  From Matthew’s perspective, the goal of life is not merely to defeat the empire or adopt an “all-or-nothing” policy but to love people, including enemies, strive after God’s kingdom and righteousness, and live in hope between now and the future. Until the end, they must continue to pursue God’s way, progressively and radically.

It is the inevitable tangle of spiritual vocation and political activism that brought the Pharisees and Herodians to collude against Jesus in this trick question. They set their trap with some sweet flattery about Jesus’ moral character. Then they pushed him into a corner with their yes or no question. The question was meant to offer Jesus no alternative but to either defy Caesar or offend those who are resisting Rome, which likely included most of his supporters.  Jesus’ answer carried the conversation beyond the political and legal implications into a practical and theological realm. After all, what is legal is not necessarily moral. What is lawful is not always acceptable to God. It is fine to pay taxes to Caesar, but that is not enough.

Yes, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, AND to God the things that are God’s.” It was not just a matter of keeping both God and the state equally happy. The implications are more subtle and complex. While people pay taxes to Rome out of obligation, they “pay” to God because of their calling and their commitment to promote an alternative kingdom.  An imperial tax can be paid without implying support for the Empire and its values. It is more an acknowledgement of political power. What we give to God has a different implication.

Listen to how Dr. Raj Nadella from Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, describes it.

The “coinage” of God’s kingdom is of a radically different nature than that of Caesar. God does not trade in Caesar’s currency.  The whole nature and trajectory of God’s kingdom that Jesus has inaugurated, and is inviting people to participate in, is fundamentally at odds with Caesar’s. Which is why while people must pay to both Caesar and God, they must pay them not only for different reasons but in entirely different currencies. Paying to God and participating in the divine kingdom entails repenting of the ways they have been complicit in the Roman empire and its agenda. Paradoxically, then, people should pay the taxes the empire has imposed upon them while actively resisting it and working to promote the God’s kingdom.[2]

So even while we fulfill our civic duty and pay our dues to government, we meet a higher obligation to God by opposing injustice, oppression, violence and hatred. At times giving to God the things that are God’s, may put us at odds with the unjust systems and the morally corrupt or bankrupt forces of authority around us. The debt we owe is described in the Beatitudes which urge us to pursue wholeness, transformation and healing in community. These are the signs of God’s realm which we offer in faithful response to God’s call in us.

In other words, we do not defeat the Empire by withholding taxes. We undermine it by upholding God’s realm among us.  The way of love and compassion, repentance and forgiveness, reconciliation and healing, all of these restore the wholeness of our world in spite of destructive forces of political power. Our

faithful commitment to God’s realm and our hope-filled response to persistent evil are part of the currency that we owe to God.  This will transform our current reality and bring about God’s will on earth. 

Remember that we are created in the image of God and bear the mark of the creator to whom we owe everything that we are.  So may our hearts be inspired and our witness to God’s love in the world be strengthened as we resolve to give to God what belongs to God.  AMEN

HOM:  MV 173  Put Peace Into Each Other’s Hand


Trusting in the transformative power of God’s loving Spirit, let us pray for the church, the world, and all in need.

Faithful God, your Spirit animates the church throughout the world and binds believers near and far into the body of Christ. Equip us for the work of faith, and enlarge our hearts for the labor of love. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Creating God, the sea roars, the earth rejoices, and the heavens are glad at the wonder of all you have made. Bless the work of ecologists and conservationists and all those who safeguard the riches of creation. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Sovereign God, your rule and authority is over the cosmos. As you once worked through the ruler Cyrus for the good of your people, accomplish your purposes through the work of elected leaders and public servants. Guide them with your wisdom and compassion. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Caring God, your arms enfold all who are lonely, oppressed, despairing, sick, and suffering. Pour out your abundant mercy on all whom this world has neglected, abandoned, and forgotten, that they may know your joy. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Almighty God, all our life belongs to you. When earthly idols threaten to lead your church astray, remind us that you alone are the source of our eternal hope. Direct the work of church treasurers, councils, and all who manage financial matters. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Everlasting God, the saints of every age have sung your praise and shared your word. We give you thanks for their witness and pray that we may join them as citizens of your unending kingdom. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Gracious God, into your hands we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your unending love and amazing grace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.



SENDING SONG:  VU 664  What A Friend We Have In Jesus


May the strength of God sustain us; may the power of God preserve us; may the hands of God protect us; may the way of God direct us; may the love of God go with us this day and forever.    Amen.  





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[1] Commentary on Matthew 22:15-22 – Working Preacher from Luther Seminary