Sunday (Zoom from the sanctuary) message: Hard to figure out

Worship on the Lord’s Day

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: From you, Lord, and through You,
and to You, are all things
P: To Christ be the glory forever
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Here I am to worship

Light of the world,
You step down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with you.

Here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,
You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

Songwriter: Tim Hughes © Universal Music Publishing Group
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:

L: God knows us by name,
and calls us to follow.
P: The presence of the Lord is with us
     as we venture out.
L: Just as Moses was led by God’s goodness,
so are we guided.
P: God’s ways are sure
    and lead the faithful
    to righteousness.
L: Together let us seek God’s leading
in Word and in prayer.
P: Let us worship God together!

Prayers of approach and confession

Response: Glory, glory, hallelujah

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

We listen for the voice of God

Book of Praise: The Lord’s my shepherd    11

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff my comfort still.

Words public domain
music: Jessie Seymour
harmony by Thomas C.I. Prichard
© Oxford University Press
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture reading:

Matthew 22:15-22         p.24 NT(NRSV)

The Question about Paying Taxes

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 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. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 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.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Response:  His truth is marching on

Message: “Hard to figure out”

One of the hardest lessons that we learn in life might well be that life is not all that simple.

Often we want to simplify things and see matters in clear cut black and white, right and wrong categories. If only life was that simple!

I must say, when I was a youngster, I loved mathematics for this exact reason. Math is a very exact exercise, even when it gets to complicated algebra, geometry and trigonometry. When you take 7 times 12, it’s 84 and 6 times 14 is also 84, as is 3 multiplied by 28! There are tons of such examples and this in itself is fascinating.

We do know, however, that there are situations where we get stumped.

The Pharisees, according to our passage that we read, were up against a mindset of having studied the law in all its details and now encountering the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was and is not to be pinned down to simple logic. Jesus came to this world to dwell in our complexities.

Jesus knew the dilemma of the Roman Empire and He knew how different every person’s heart is.

When the Pharisees sent some of their followers to go and entrap Jesus, along with some Herodians, Jesus saw right through their schmoozing attitude, trying to tell Jesus what a wonderful human being He is. No, Jesus knew right away that their question about paying taxes was filled with malice and was cleverly-crafted.

Jesus came out clear and deftly, acknowledging that life is not all that simple. Life is not exact, even if we wish it were.

If there has ever been a time in which we’ve learned how complicated life can be, it is now. There just aren’t absolute answers, as much as we wish for them. With the knowledge that we have today, we try to navigate an uncertain future. We know too little to be able to make decisions that will solve all our troubles.

There are times when there are so many options to choose from, and many consequences for each choice that we make. This is when we might find this thing we call “life” so daunting that it isn’t even clear whether the way to go is “possible” or “permissible.”

Quite often we find ourselves before a matter of you are damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know.

At times we worry that no matter what we do, no matter which way we turn, there is no good and truly acceptable solution.

The good news, however, is that God does give us resources to cope. Perhaps we are tempted to ask, is this some sort of cruel joke then? Did God plunge us into a world without clear answers so that God could drive us mad?

No. Not at all. God wants us to struggle, to persevere, and to overcome, just as his Son, Jesus, did on our behalf. God wants God’s children to be resourceful, and for that task, we have been given resources. We have been given each other, we have received knowledge, means to do research. If it weren’t for this, we might have struggled endlessly without the possibility to worship through Zoom each Sunday since the pandemic started in mid-March.

Are we doing the exact right thing every time? Perhaps and perhaps not, and I think that this is the beauty of life.

Is it right to drill for oil in landlocked Alberta? In Jesus’ time it might have been the same as asking whether it is right to pay Caesar taxes. Would it be better to abandon fossil fuels completely? Perhaps this is a response of being obedient to God. But then again, if we stop the oil industry, we might not be able to get around in the many gas-driven cars that we still use. Would that be a responsible choice? Perhaps yes and no.

Is Medical Assistance in Dying the right thing to do? There aren’t always clear-cut answers to this. In certain instances it could be right, in other circumstances not. When is it the one or the other?

If I struggle with seemingly insoluble questions and difficulties, it will help me to remember that God walks beside me at such times, that God gives encouragement, that God strengthens me, that my victory over the Evil One and his purposes is of ultimate importance, and that there is a final destination at which I am promised an eventual arrival.

Today we are embarking on the path of worshipping in the sanctuary while having online worship available through Zoom. Some would say it is highly unsafe to go this route. For some it is. For others it is highly important to interact with our fellow Christian brothers and sisters and this brings back emotional health in the long run.

We just don’t have the exact right answer.

Sometimes we need to trust God for wisdom. And yes, it might be unwise to blindly trust God. But then there are situations where God’s wisdom is glaringly obvious.

Christians are cast into a strange and fascinating paradox when it comes to the use of reason and the powers of our minds.

God’s ways are not our ways in part because we are rational, calculating beings; love, and the miraculous, mystery and eternal hope do not fall into rational categories: they seem to defy reason. Still, we affirm them because our experience and the promises of God insist we must.

Until we see God face to face, we still will face a broken, sin-filled, ambiguous creation, where several evils crowd in on us at every turn and pure choices elude us.

Rely upon the resources God has given you, the Master says. Then leap into what’s so unknown, and God will be beside you, strengthening you for the task. Amen

Book of Praise: Praise, my soul              407

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress;
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Words public domain
Music  public domain

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving

Book of Praise: God, we praise you        436

God, we praise you for the morning;
hope springs forth with each new day,
new beginning, prayer and promise,
joy in work and in play.

God, we praise you for creation,
mountains, seas and prairie land.
Waking souls find joy and healing
in your bountiful hand.

God, we praise you for compassion,
all the loving that you show;
human touching, tears and laughter,
help your children to grow.

Words Jim and Jean Strathdee
music Jim Strathdee © Desert Flower Musi
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: God to enfold you

10:00 am October 18, 2020

led by Rev. Heinrich Grosskopf

Elder: Gina Kottke

Vocalist: Linda Farrah Basford

Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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Posted in Recent Sermons.