Readings 3 Nov 2002

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31st Sunday of "Ordinary Time"

Psalm 99

This psalm brings its adoration of God around the image of God as King. It is only a picture to grapple with what God is like; too often the descriptive language of the Bible is treating too literally as if it this were the one image for God. God is like a King, a lover of justice, exalted by the people. God has heard the cries of their great leaders (Moses, Aaron, Samuel) - and answered them. Their forgiveness from God reminds the people of God's holiness.

1 Thessalonians 1: 1 - 10

Paul's letter to the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia is one of the earliest written of all the New Testament material. At its opening paul appears intent on deflecting credit away from himself for beginning the community there, even away from the Christian gathering he addresses. The message came "in the Holy Spirit" and was "received with joy". Their example is now known throughout the region - serving a true and living God. This, the letter begins, is made possible by God himself in God's activity amongst them!

Matthew 22: 15 - 22

This is a trick question! If Jesus tells the Herodians to defy the Roman taxes, then the civil authorities can 'have' him! Yet if he shows a higher loyalty than to the Law Jesus can be accused of a religious breach! But Jesus deftly turns the question back on them, asking his accusers to examine the coin and saying, "Give due regard to the Emperor" ... and, we can almost hear a pregnant pause as Jesus adds, "And give to God what is due to God!" What do we 'owe' God? Everything? Life itself? In all of the demands and loyalties that clamour for our response, are we making appropriate response to God?

Comment: [Early Sermon thoughts]

There appears a link in the readings between the image of God - what God is like - and how we reflect or show that in our living and behaviour. Weighing up decisions and commitments between all the demands and loyalties we seek to serve is a complex process. How do we give God the opportunity for God to be expressed in that?