Proper 24 Year A—
Who has authority



(Continuing to present both Tracks of the Lectionary)

Jesus says pay your taxes! Is it really that simple? For some, it is paying tribute to the authority of the land. But is it? Most of us live in an organized society and thereby choose to live within the constraints and parameters of such a society—responsibilities toward the society of which we are a part. And within that society, we choose where we live (neighborhood), worship (denomination), work, and so on. So our choices in life give authority to governments, religious leaders, neighborhood associations, and so forth. Thus, we grant authority by our choices. The brain food “Crevace” helps us to see that “God is with us” even when we had not noticed.

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Matthew 22:15-22

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

From “Jesus also said “Give to God what belongs to God.” The Bible says that we were created by God and that we were created in the image of God. If we are created by God, and we were created in His image, we must belong to Him. That means we must give ourselves to Him!”

Scripture: October 18, 2020—Isaiah 45:1-7 (image); Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13) (image); 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (image); and Matthew 22:15-22 (image). Illuminating the scripture, an image and audio journey. Track 1 lesson and psalm are Exodus 33:12-23 (image) and Psalm 99 (image). From the editor: Click on “image” following each appointed scripture for an illumination of that passage.  

Collect: 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.

Reflection: This week, set aside some time to take inventory of your life. Consider your spiritual gifts. How do you use them in the service of God and others? Consider your material goods. How do you make use of these possessions? [from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion]

Saint Focus: Schereschewsky’s tale is remarkable. His zeal was to bring the Bible to the Chinese in their language. Read how he got there but note that eventually he became paralyzed with movement only in his fingers. He spent more than 25 years translating the Bible into Mandarin while he was thus paralyzed. So remarkable, good and faithful servant. Be sure to follow the link below though more detail is here.

This week, the saints under consideration were:

Image is “The Tribute Money” (1425) by Masaccio in the Basilica of Our Lady of Carmel (downloaded from on October 14, 2020).


Eye Candy: “Show me your glory” by Jan Richardson; “Jesus and Tribute Money to Caesar” (1880), Gustav Dore Bible art; The tribute money (1630-1635) by Bernardo Strozzi

Ear Worm: “Holy is the Lord” by Chris Tomlin; “Santo, santo, santo“, Argentinian praise hymn; “Hush, somebody’s calling my name“, gospel hymn

Brain Food: “Show me the Glory” by Rachel Hackenburg (RevGalBlogPals); “Whose image is stamped on your heart” by Doug Mendenhall; “Crevace” by Rick Morley, short powerful reflection on Exodus reading

Contemporary Parables: “The pursuit of happyness” (2006)—struggling to survive; “Avartar” (2009), “in sync with contemporary spirituality movements”; “Limitless” (2011), pairing of sci-fi and human emotions


: Study guide, group activity, snacks, kid video.




activity; bulletin games; craft





:  activity; bulletin games; craft



: In Sunday’s gospel, Jesus reminds us to pay taxes when they are due. Sounds a bit peculiar from a rabble-rouser and kinda renegade. But the point might be that we live within a governed society and thus owe that government its due. We also are governed by our acceptance of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as found are in the words of the Apostles Creed. So, “Whose are you?” We all belong to God, and that is very good news. What does it mean to belong to God rather than focusing on what might belong to us. That’s tough! How does this reframe our lives and our approach to everyday living? (excerpted from “Belonging to God” from the Stewardship of Life website

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As we draw near the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the opposition to Jesus intensifies. Today the Pharisees seek to entrap Jesus, asking if it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor. The trap would be to offend either zealous Jewish patriots or else offend the ruling class in Jerusalem including the Romans. Jesus’ answer points instead to Jewish teaching that the government, even a pagan one, has legitimate authority, but that authority cannot be allowed to interfere with our duty toward God.

Track 1. In our ongoing story of the Exodus, it is time for the Jews to move on in their journey to the land of promise. Moses asks for a sign of God’s favor. God gives two signs. One is his promise to go with the people on their journey to the Promised Land and the other is to give Moses a glimpse of God.

Track 2. Five hundred years earlier, the Jews, exiled in Babylon, were rescued by a pagan king, Cyrus. Today’s first reading refers to that time and we find the Persian king referred to by the prophet Isaiah as God’s anointed.

The second reading today begins several weeks of reading Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. This is probably the earliest of Paul’s letters. Things have gone well since he left and he begins by giving thanks for their faithfulness. This church, however, had some problems and confusion about the second coming of Christ. In coming weeks we will hear Paul’s teaching about that.

Central to every gathering of Christians for worship is intercessory prayer. Our prayer is always for the church and the world. A striking illustration was that the early Christians prayed for the emperor who was persecuting them. Our faith calls us to pray for and to minister to all aspects of life. The liturgy reminds us that God is concerned for all creation and is the Savior of all.

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