Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost- Week of October 18, 2020
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: 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. (Collects: Contemporary, Book of Common Prayer, p. 235)
Adult and Small Child
Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Reflect: Most of us came to know about Jesus for the first time because someone shared with us. Do you remember who first told you about Jesus? Maybe you were so little that you don’t remember who first told you!
We learn about God, about what Jesus taught and did, and about how to grow in our faith as Christians by doing things the Church does. We read or listen to the Bible to learn the stories of God’s people. We pray with words from our hearts or prayer books to talk to God. We worship with other people who make up the church community- in a building, online, outside, in a home, or somewhere else. Did you know that one of the oldest and most important ways people learn about God’s love is through the words and actions of others? The earliest Christians didn’t have a New Testament, prayer books or church buildings yet, but they shared how to follow Jesus with their words and by showing lots of love and welcome to others in the name of God. They knew that the love they shared with one another and others came right from God!
Respond: Draw a picture of a time when you felt God’s love because of something another person in the church said or did. Take turns sharing who is in your picture and what the people in the picture are doing or saying. Talk about all the ways God teaches us about Jesus, love, and faith through other people. How can the ways we treat each other or the stories we share help others know that God loves them, too?
- Michelle Bullock
Adult and Elementary
Read: Matthew 22:15-22
Reflect: Many people have heard the old saying: “Don’t talk about religion and politics.” But I think there’s grave danger in abiding by this saying. Our reluctance to talk about religion and politics is one of the reasons we’re facing such a hostile environment these days. Instead of digging into the difficult work of learning how to talk (and disagree) with one another on serious matters of the heart and soul, we punted and let the adage create a false narrative that polite folks don’t engage in such conversations.
First, as Christians, we must talk about our faith. Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, to share the good news of love and light with all we meet. Our faith is fundamental to the why of our lives. And politics is central to the how we live our lives. Political systems provide an infrastructure for safety, education, health, care for creation, our financial system, and so much more. If we can’t talk about the why and how of our lives, what is there to talk about besides the weather?! In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is clear about maintaining a separation of church (religion) and state (politics), but that doesn’t mean they’re not connected. Our civic decisions should be deeply rooted in our faith values. The two are not separate streams never to run together but ones that feed into the same body of water, this world in which we live and love.
Respond: Talking about religion and politics is important, but it isn’t always easy. However, it’s critical that we give our children the tools to navigate these conversations and the opportunity to develop the skills. Over this next week, spend time talking about how government works. For older elementary students, look into the Who Was/What Was series. Then, ask your children about the role of faith in government decisions. You might compare the Baptismal Promises with the Bill of Rights. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Don’t worry if these conversations are awkward at first. We have been trained all our lives to avoid these kinds of talks. Let us not repeat that mistake with this generation.
- Richelle Thompson
Adult and Youth
Read: Matthew 22:15-22
Reflect: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 15:21, NRSV) Once again, we find Jesus being questioned. A group of pharisees who were really out to trick Jesus. So, they asked him, “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” Now, this might not sound like a trick question, but it was. The imperial tax meant that the Romans forcefully took money from the Jews and if the Jews did not pay it, they were punished. If Jesus said yes to paying taxes, it would make the Jews very angry. But if Jesus said no, this was reason to send him straight to jail for defying Emperor Caesar. Instead, Jesus does not say yes or no. On the other hand, his answer was quite simple. He instructed them to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.
Respond: Today’s lesson from Matthew is one used often during stewardship season. Are we remembering to give to God what is God’s? Stewardship isn’t just about money though. It’s so much more. When I think of stewardship, I think about superheroes because stewardship is also about using your gifts and talents and giving those to God as well. Superheroes use their gifts and talents so clearly and wear them visibly on their sleeves. They live their lives based on those special gifts. What if we chose to be stewards like them? What are your gifts and talents? How can you be a good steward? Can you sing? - join the choir. Can you serve? - be an acolyte. Do you have hands willing to work? - help clean a neighbor’s yard. Remember, there is a superhero in all of us.
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Read: Matthew 22:15-22
Reflect: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 15:21, NRSV) This narrative that tells the story of Jesus’s response to the inquiry about whether it is lawful to pay taxes is a familiar story to many of us. What makes Jesus’s response so profound in this moment of him being challenged, is that he isn’t speaking negatively about the law or expectation to “pay taxes,” but yet, Jesus is calling his followers, as well as those who are gathered being witnesses to his message, to think about how they are giving to God. Something that I know at times can easily be forgotten. In this season where many of us are being asked to think about being good stewards, I find myself asking: how am I giving to God what is God’s? Each of us have been entrusted with the care of all of God’s creations: the land, the animals, and one another. God has blessed us with gifts and passions to do such work, to be such stewards, and yet, we forget to use these blessings for such a cause, sometimes we forget to give of ourselves to God.
Respond: As we think about the ways that we might financially support our faith communities in our various stewardship seasons, I challenge ourselves, to additionally ask the questions: How am I giving of my time to my faith community? How am I living out my Christian Vocation, my baptismal vocation, ensuring that I am giving myself through acts of calling for Justice, giving of myself of through acts of Love, hope and peace, in my community, in my work, and in this world? Taking the time to list and record these things, just as we do our pledges, may also serve as an accountability for how we are pledging and giving of ourselves to our God.
- Christopher Decatur
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