Worship for Sunday 22nd October 2023, by Rev. Catharine Hughes

Creator God, we worship you, 
and we praise you for we are 
wonderfully made. 
For the wonder of who I am 
I praise you; 
safe in your hands 
all creation is made new. Amen. 

Hymn: STF332 – Lord, I lift your name on high 

Lord, I lift your name on high, 

Lord, I love to sing your praises; 

I’m so glad you’re in my life, 

I’m so glad you came to save us. 


You came from heaven to earth to show the way, 

from the earth to the cross my debt to pay, 

from the cross to the grave, 

from the grave to the sky: 

Lord, I lift your name on high. 

Rick Founds 


Prayers: A Litany of hope 

The leaves take on their autumn colours and fall, 

but tiny buds on bare branch promise the green of spring. 

Praise the God of life. 


The flowers wither in the cold,  

but in the heart of the earth bulbs prepare for spring glory. 

Praise the God of life. 


The cold halts growth and earth grows bare,  

but autumn seeds have been sown in the soil. 

Praise the God of life. 


Plants die back and begin to rot,  

but their decay will nourish next year’s growth. 

Praise the God of life. 


We celebrate that with God the end is but a beginning, 

for in Christ, God has shown us that life overcomes death. 


As summer wanes and winter approaches, 

renew our faith, O Lord, in your life-giving presence. 


Cheer us with these signs of earth’s renewing hidden in autumn chill. 

In these quiet signs of resurrection, may we find hope  

and know joy in the God who brings life from death. 


(From ‘Autumn’ © 2021, Wild Goose Publications) 


Reading: Matthew 22.15-22 (The Message) 

Paying Taxes 

That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 

Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece. 

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?” 

They said, “Caesar.” 

“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.” 

The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads. 


Hymn: Christ tells us that we cannot serve both God and money too. 

Tune: St Columba/Erin – 4 verses only on recording 


Christ tells us that we cannot serve both God and money too. 

It’s time to choose which side we’re on, account for what we do. 


While some folk lack enough to thrive and some have wealth to spare, 

Christ sits beside the least of these and calls us all to care. 


For all that we will spread or save, invest or give away. 

is held in trust to be a means to follow in Christ’s way. 


When quests for wealth destroy our world and tides and rivers rise, 

the poorest countries suffer most: take notice of their cries. 


To banks and all with money’s power, the prophets’ voices call: 

‘Repent of all that harms the earth, work for the good of all.’ 


Across the seas, may we reach out with trade that’s just and fair. 

Creation’s riches are for all, Christ’s commonwealth to share. 


Elizabeth Delafield, in ‘Autumn’ 


Prayer of confession 

Faithful God, 
forgive us when we mar your image and others don’t see your compassion mirrored in our lives. 
Forgive us when the mark we leave on the lives of those we encounter is a negative one. 
Forgive us when we seek only to identify with the powerful and not the vulnerable. 
Forgive us when give our allegiance to that which is not healthy. 
Forgive us when we are reluctant to identify as your disciples. 

Lord, have mercy on us. 
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 


Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1.1-10 (Good News Bible) 

From Paul, Silas, and Timothy— 

To the people of the church in Thessalonica, who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 

May grace and peace be yours. 

We always thank God for you all and always mention you in our prayers.For we remember before our God and Father how you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm. Our friends, we know that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own. For we brought the Good News to you, not with words only, but also with power and the Holy Spirit, and with complete conviction of its truth. You know how we lived when we were with you; it was for your own good.You imitated us and the Lord; and even though you suffered much, you received the message with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. So you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For not only did the message about the Lord go out from you throughout Macedonia and Achaia, but the news about your faith in God has gone everywhere. There is nothing, then, that we need to say. All those people speak about how you received us when we visited you, and how you turned away from idols to God, to serve the true and living God and to wait for his Son to come from heaven—his Son Jesus, whom he raised from death and who rescues us from God’s anger that is coming. 



Today our biblical travels take us to Thessalonica, situated to the northwest of Athens. It was an important city on the trade route and it was into this city in about 50 AD that Paul came on what we would now term his 2nd Missionary Journey. As was his habit, on arrival he went to the synagogue and began teaching those present how Jesus was the long-promised Messiah. He won many over, but it didn’t take long – maybe 3 weeks – for him to have angered the hard-line Jews so much that they hunted down the fledgling believers and accused them of hiding Paul, and accused Paul of being a traitor to the Roman Empire. For a hefty bail fee the young believers were released, and they helped Paul leave town as quickly as he could under the cover of night. 

Waiting in Athens, Paul was anxious for them, as his hurried departure meant that he hadn’t left what he considered adequate instructions for the establishment of an infant church. So he sent Timothy back… who reported back to Paul that the Thessalonians were standing firm in their faith and even propagating the gospel. 

It was with this joyous news in mind that Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians: full of joy at their faith, and with the aim of helping them grow – filling in the gaps his rushed departure had left. Our reading today is the beginning of this letter. Paul is so excited by the Thessalonian church, embryonic though it is. He is clearly praying for them: 

For we remember before our God and Father how you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm. [1 Thess 1.4] 


Paul begins verse 4 stating: We remember before God how you put your faith into practice. This small group of believers were having a huge impact in the region because they believed and lived their faith.  

Faith produces works – works of wonder. Think of people like Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador shot down in his own cathedral during mass because he would not concede on his faith. Indeed, in a link to our gospel reading, it was after a sermon in which he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. As soon as he finished his sermon, Romero proceeded to the middle of the altar …and was shot. He was giving not unto Caesar, but unto God. 

People are attracted to people of faith. Think of people closer to home for you. Think of your mother, father, Sunday School teacher: whoever it was who lived their faith, who showed something different, something special, that encouraged you to take a step forward in faith. 

People who put their faith into practice stand out. 


‘Your love made you work so hard…’ 

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as ourselves. A life of faith cannot be lived devoid of love. If we are following Jesus and obedient to him, then we must love – love without bounds, just as He did.  

Love means you have to work – indeed, as Paul wrote, to work hard! Take that from a close circle outwards. Marriage relationships require work in order to last: they aren’t just handed on a plate covered in sugar, modelled on a Disney movie. They require work and commitment. Even more so, children. Or parents. Take that ripple further… to friends, more distant relations, to your community, your church, your town, city, country and world.  

Love demands work. It demands putting yourself out. It demands discomfort and giving of both time and money. 


The Thessalonians stood firm in their hope – hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in his coming again, hope in the promises of eternal life.  

Knowing what they believed in, and the future that held, enabled them to endure the present. It was no easy option to follow Christ: it was tough! And yet, Paul commends them for their endurance, their steadfastness. The glorious hope in which we live helps us to face the present day, whatever it may bring. 

In fact, it is what I think brings a smile to our face! The wonderful assurances that Jesus brings. Forgiveness for sins. A clean sheet. A new start. Friendship, companionship, someone with you all the way. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow – blessings all mine with 10,000 beside.*  

Our hope in Jesus helps us through every day. It is hope that inspires endurance, that helps us to persevere even in the most difficult moments. 

Faith, love and hope. That is the essence of Paul’s prayer to God for the Thessalonians: 

For we remember before our God and Father how you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm. [1 Thess 1.4] 


*STF 51 – Great is thy faithfulness 

Questions to consider. 

Paul is overflowing with thankfulness for the church in Thessalonica.  

Is this what would be said about us and our church?  

How can we put our faith into practice, standing firm in our belief even if it is contrary to the social norm? 

How can we show the love of Jesus to those we meet today and this week?  

Are we lit up by the hope of life eternal, so that we will persevere with the path Jesus has set out for us? 

Are we creating a church that would delight Paul?  

Hymn: STF662 – Have you heard God’s voice 

Have you heard God’s voice; has your heart been stirred? 

Are you still prepared to follow? 

Have you made a choice to remain and serve,  

though the way be rough and narrow? 

Will you walk the path that will cost you much  

and embrace the pain and sorrow? 

Will you trust in One who entrusts to you  

the disciples of tomorrow? 


Will you use your voice; will you not sit down  

when the multitudes are silent? 

Will you make a choice to stand your ground  

when the crowds are turning violent? 


In your city streets will you be God’s heart? 

Will you listen to the voiceless? 

Will you stop and eat, and when friendships start,  

will you share your faith with the faithless? 


Will you watch the news with the eyes of faith  

and believe it could be different? 

Will you share your views using words of grace? 

Will you leave a thoughtful imprint? 

We will walk the path that will cost us much  

and embrace the pain and sorrow. 

We will trust in One who entrusts to us  

the disciples of tomorrow. 

Jacqueline G Jones 


Prayers of Intercession 

Lord God, in our corner of the world it isn’t easy to really feel the pain of persecution for our faith, but we know that it happens.  

We pray for those who are persecuted and punished, violated and scarred because of their faith.  

We pray for those who despite these things speak out and speak up, and witness to you, the living God; and for the families of these people, that they may be given strength and support in their own faith and discipleship.  

We pray for those who teach us of you, who unpack your truths, who explain what living a Christian life is and how to follow you.  

We pray for those who guide us in times of struggles with our faith, those who stand by us in times of denial and bewilderment.  

We pray for those who are dying in the faith, and those who are struggling to find their faith before they die.  

For these and all your witnesses, Lord, we pray. Amen. 

The Lord’s Prayer  

Our Father, who art in heaven, 

Hallowed by your name. 

Your kingdom come, your will be done 

On earth, as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread 

And forgive us our sins 

As we forgive those who sin against us. 

Lead us not into temptation, 

But deliver us from evil. 

For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, 

For ever and ever, Amen. 

Hymn: STF564 – O thou who camest from above 


O thou who camest from above 

The pure celestial fire to impart, 

Kindle a flame of sacred love 

On the mean altar of my heart! 


There let it for they glory burn 

With inextinguishable blaze, 

And trembling to its source return,  

In humble prayer and fervent praise. 


Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire 

To work, and speak, and think for thee; 

Still let me guard the holy fire, 

And still stir up thy gift in me — 


Ready for all they perfect will, 

My acts of faith and love repeat, 

Till death thy endless mercies seal, 

And make the sacrifice complete. 

 Charles Wesley (1707-1788) 


This day and every day, 
may we put our faith into practice, 
that all may see the labours of our love. 

May we stand firm in the hope we have in Jesus; 
and may we be generous with our time and resources,  

that God’s glory may be seen. Amen. 


Prayers of confession and intercession from rootsontheweb.com