Midweek Devotion 21/7/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 21st July 2022

Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod

The Psalmist says: O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! 
You have set your glory above the heavens. 

                                                Psalm 8: 1

Let us worship God

The lesson is written in Mark 12: 13-17

13Then they sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. 14And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? 15Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” 16And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” 17Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

The Word of the Lord: thanks be to God

Reflection

The classic ‘clash of empires’ story.

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”

This is how the King James Version of the bible famously translates Jesus’ response to the question that his hostile interlocutors have posed. “Should we pay taxes to the Roman authorities or not?”

As the text tells us, this is not some sort of parlor game they are playing; the religious authorities are trying to trap Jesus in a kind of ‘lose-lose’ where to say ‘yes’ would be to acknowledge the emperor and his quasi-divine status and to say ‘no’ could be seen as a seditious act, rebelling against the occupying Romans.

Jesus knows all about the clash of empires for he has come to proclaim God’s reign among his people who are oppressed under the yoke of Rome. God’s reign, which Jesus calls ‘the kingdom of God” is the rule of love and it stands over against the rule of Rome which is the rule of power.

The devastating response by Jesus (devastating to the questioners!) challenges them as to who they have allegiance to – Rome or their God, the rule of power or the rule of love.

For it can’t be both!

A Peruvian prayer

The Lord of heaven is thirsty
for justice and for peace;
God’s battle is unending
Till hate and oppression cease.  Amen

Let us pray

We bless you in the name of Jesus Christ,
for the gift of our lives;
for the trust which bind us to the people we love and care for,
for the gifts you allow us to discover within ourselves,
and for the gifts that others have given us by giving of themselves.

We give you thanks, God of our lives,
for the daily rhythm of work and leisure,
family and friendship, homes to live in, love to share.
And we pray for those who have lost that rhythm;
those whose job is in danger;
those who are sick and incapacitated.

Your world cries out for peace and for your kingdom to come;
your kingdom of goodness and wholeness and equality.

Amen.

O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

The Benediction

Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.

Organ Music

J.S.Bach Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten BWV 647