Sermon for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity

“Whose is this image and superscription?”

A coin? A bitcoin? No. An actual coin, a physical object, and not the term coined, if you will pardon the pun, for a computational algorithm belonging to the realm of bits and bytes in the digital world. All this fuss about a coin? Well, yes, it seems so. “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not?” The Pharisees and the Herodians ask Jesus but only so as to “entangle him in his talk”. All this fuss about a coin turns on an image and a superscription, a picture and the words which surround or are about an image on a coin. Coins as physical objects have a powerful symbolical significance. Jesus uses something as ordinary and basic as a coin, a penny, to teach us something powerful about our identities and the structuring of our loyalties.

The picture is an image, a depiction of Caesar, the ruling authority of the political world of Jesus’ day. The superscription identifies in writing that authority. Our coins, to the extent that we still have them, are stamped with the image of the Queen – the sovereign principle of this nation of Canada. All on a coin. It suggests the interplay between politics and economics.

It is a much vexed problem which we can never entirely escape. The challenge is to think the relation between economics and politics, on the one hand, and, far more importantly, the relation between them both and spiritual life, on the other hand. It is the latter about which Jesus is most concerned. In a way, it is a question about what is the fundamental nature of reality. Is the real simply the social, the economic and the political? Or does the spiritual and the intellectual, the philosophical and the theological point us to the reality of God which in turn engages the realms of the social, the economic and the political?

This gospel story, like so many of the gospel stories, challenges our assumptions. They disquiet and disturb us. This gospel story confronts us with the fundamental question about our spiritual identity. In a way, Jesus’ question is really asking about us in relation to God. Whose image and superscription are we? The analogy here is between the coin, symbolizing economic and political might, and ourselves as made in the image of God as spiritual and intellectual creatures.

But if we define ourselves primarily and essentially by money, property, and power then we deny the one in whose image we are made and remade. It is the challenge and the issue for contemporary culture. What is a means to end, a medium of exchange, becomes instead the defining reality of our lives. We forget what money really is because we forget who we truly are. The consequences are enormous and inescapable.

Continue reading

Week at a Glance, 31 October – 6 November

Monday, October 31st
4:35-5:05pm Bible Study/Inquirer’s Class – Room 206 KES

Tuesday, November 1st, All Saints’ Day
6:00pm ‘Prayers & Praises’ – Haliburton Place
6:30-8:00pm Girl Guides – Parish Hall
7:00pm Holy Communion

Wednesday, November 2nd, All Souls’ Day
6:30-8:00pm Brownies – Parish Hall

Friday, November 4th
6:00-9:00pm Pathfinders & Rangers – Parish Hall

Sunday, November 6th, Trinity XXIV/In the Octave of All Saints
8:00am Holy Communion
10:30am Holy Communion
4:00pm Choral Evensong, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Charlottetown, sponsored by the PBSC NS/PEI, Fr. Curry preaching

Upcoming Events and Changes to the Tentative Schedule:

Saturday, November 19th
4:30-6:00pm Annual Ham Supper – Parish Hall

Tuesday, December 20th
7:00pm, Capella Regalis Concert, “To Bethlehem with Kings”.

The Twenty-Third Sunday After Trinity

The collect for today, the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness: Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: Philippians 3:17-21
The Gospel: St Matthew 22:15-22

Preti, Tribute MoneyArtwork: Mattia Preti, The Tribute Money, c. 1640. Oil on canvas, Brera, Milan.

James Hannington, Bishop, Missionary and Martyr

The collect for today, the commemoration of James Hannington (1847-85), first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Missionary to Uganda, Martyr (source):

James HanningtonPrecious in your sight, O Lord,
is the death of your martyrs
James Hannington and his companions,
who purchased with their blood a road into Uganda
for the proclamation of the gospel;
and we pray that with them
we also may obtain the crown of righteousness
which is laid up for all
who love the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Epistle: 1 St. Peter 3:14-18,22
The Gospel: St. Matthew 10:16-22

St. Simon and St. Jude the Apostles

The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Simon the Zealot and Saint Jude, Apostles, with Saint Jude the Brother of the Lord, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The collect for the Brethren of the Lord, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

O HEAVENLY Father, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning: We bless thy holy Name for the witness of James and Jude, the kinsmen of the Lord, and pray that we may be made true members of thy heavenly family; through him who willed to be the firstborn among many brethren, even the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: St. Jude 1-4
The Gospel: St. John 14:21-27

Cozzarelli, Martyrdom of SS Simon and ThaddaeusIn the various New Testament lists of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon and Judas son of James, also called Thaddeus.

To distinguish Simon from Simon Peter, Matthew and Mark refer to him as Simon the Cananaean, while Luke refers to him as Simon the Zealot. Both surnames have the same signification and are a translation of the Hebrew qana (the Zealous). The name does not signify that he belonged to the party of Zealots, but that he had zeal for the Jewish law, which he practised before his call. The translation of Matthew and Mark as Simon “the Canaanite” (as, e.g., KJV has it) is simply mistaken.

The New Testament contains a variety of names for the apostle Jude: Matthew and Mark refer to Thaddeus (a variant reading of Matthew has “Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus”), while Luke calls him Judas son of James. Christian tradition regards Saint Jude and Saint Thaddeus as different names for the same person. The various names are understood as efforts to avoid associating Saint Jude with the name of the traitor Judas Iscariot. The only time words of Jude are recorded, in St. John 14:22-23, the Evangelist is quick to add “(not Iscariot)” after his name.

Continue reading