Welcome to St. Bartholomew’s, Burwash

19th Sunday after Trinity - 10.00am Parish Communion - CW - 18.10.20

Collect

O God, forasmuch as without you
we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

 

1 Thessalonians 1.1-10 

1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters[a] beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions[b] report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

 

Matthew 22.15-22

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.

 

 

Address

There was a survey conducted some time ago where people were asked to use one word to describe a Christian. I wonder if you know what the most common response was?   Sadly, it was ‘hypocrite’.

You may know that the word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypokrites — “an actor” or “a stage player.” It translates literally as “an interpreter from underneath”, reminding us that ancient Greek actors wore masks and the actor spoke from underneath that mask. So we often talk about people being two-faced, or hiding behind a mask, when thinking about hypocrisy. “Do as I say, rather than do as I do” is one way of looking at it.

The Pharisees generally get a bad press in scripture and it’s because of stories like our gospel reading. In reality, many Pharisees were probably sincere scholars of the Scriptures, trying to live out their lives in obedience to the Law of Moses. The Herodians were another matter. Who were the Herodians?   Well, the clue’s in the name really.   They were politicians and held political power. Need I say more? They were the political party that supported King Herod Antipas, the Roman Empire's puppet ruler of the day in that region. The Herodians favoured submitting to the Herods, and therefore to Rome, purely out of political expediency. But from the Pharisees’ perspective, support of Herod compromised Jewish independence, making it difficult for the Herodians and Pharisees to agree on anything.   But one thing did unite them—opposition to Jesus. We know from Luke 13:31 that Herod himself wanted Jesus dead, and John 11:53 tells us that the Pharisees had already hatched plots against Him, so here we see the two groups pool their efforts to achieve a common goal. Strange bedfellows.

But we’ve seen these types of political machinations in our own country, with the Lib-Lab pact of the 1970s and, more recently, when the Liberal Democrats joined forces with the Conservatives in 2010, resulting in a coalition government. The LibDems were accused of hypocrisy for selling out on some of their liberal principles. And even within the Church we find similar relationships of expediency: groups who would not normally associate with one another in theology or praxis have aligned themselves, in opposing women to the priesthood. Anglo Catholics aligning with Evangelicals for example, and it’s still going on within our own Diocese.

That’s one kind of hypocrisy and we regularly see other kinds, don’t we? One rule for us and another for those who make the rules! I won’t mention any names but we all know of instances during the current pandemic where the behaviour of some of our politicians and advisors has left many in the country incandescent with rage.

Sadly the prevalence of hypocrisy among Christians has been all too evident this week with the publication of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Living behind masks was a way of life for an alarming number of clergy and it’s now time to acknowledge the truth and for people to repent.

But back to our gospel reading. By now Jesus has been preaching, teaching and healing for about 3 years. Large crowds have gathered to listen to Him and there was even some talk about making Him the new king of Israel. The people could see what he could do.

• He could inspire huge crowds with His words.

• He could feed thousands with very little food.

• He could heal the sick, the lame and the insane.

• He even had the power to raise people from the dead.

If Jesus could just be their King, there’d be no power on earth that could stand against Israel. Not even the hated Romans could hold them back. Israel would once again become a great nation.

But there was a problem: the job of King was already taken - by Herod Antipas, the one who’d killed John Baptist. And because they didn’t want Jesus to be King, the Herodians conspired with the Pharisees to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people. The Pharisees and the Herodians.   Strange bedfellows. The Pharisees hated Rome and claimed it was heresy to pay Roman taxes. And the Herodians wanted better relations with Rome and approved Roman taxation. And because of their differences, this encounter with Jesus, this attempt to trip him up, is rightly seen by Jesus as abject hypocrisy.

vs17:   They approached Jesus and asked: “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

If Jesus answered that the people had to pay their taxes, the Pharisees could condemn Him to the crowds as a friend of the hated Romans. BUT if Jesus replied that people should not pay their taxes, the Herodians would brand Him as an enemy of Rome and have Him arrested.

It was the perfect trap. They start by flattering him. “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity…” ‘But Jesus, aware of their evil intent, said “You hypocrites…”

The tax that’s in question was probably the Roman head-tax introduced in 6AD when Judea became a Roman province. It was a hugely divisive issue. The tax could only be paid in Roman coinage, which contained an image and inscription regarded as blasphemous by many Jews. It read, ‘Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, high priest.

’Son of the divine.’ That means Son of God, or a god. I think I see their point… Pretty offensive to a Jew.

Typically, Jesus responds to a question with a question. “Why are you putting me to the test? Whose head is on the coin?” And he asks to see one – he doesn’t have a coin on him himself – and there, in the precincts of the Temple, the Pharisees produce the coin with its idolatrous inscription. And they acknowledge that, well, yes, it is Caesar’s head on the coin and it is the coin of the realm, so to speak. Now that’s hypocrisy! According to their religion, the Pharisees weren’t even supposed to touch this money, and yet there they have it with them in the Temple…

Notice that Jesus avoids giving a direct yes or no to the question ‘Is it lawful…’ and he leaves the Pharisees silent, yet unconvinced. The Romans had systematically crucified vast numbers of revolutionaries who had refused to pay the tax. If Jesus said people were not to pay, he’d be accused of stirring up the people. And yet the Pharisees, so zealous in their adherence to their religion, could not deny that they were participating in the economic system of the Romans, at the very least. Jesus turns the tables on them by challenging them on their compromises. Where was their commitment to God? Were they flirting with the Romans? Were they no better than the Herodians?

And as for the Herodians in this ill-advised plot, Jesus gives nothing away about his bid for the Kingdom. But he knew, and we know now, that he would end up on a cross. Not for paying tax, not for with-holding tax, but for refusing to compromise with the will of his heavenly Father.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s. How might you or I compromise on being squeaky clean? I’m not asking about your tax returns – that’s between you and the tax man, or your financial advisor, which reminds me I have an appointment tomorrow morning!

But what about compromise with God? There’s no help in the text about how we work out what is Caesar’s or his equivalent, and what is God’s. We are free to make these distinctions ourselves. With freedom comes responsibility… God looks at the heart and our hearts must be blameless before him.

We human beings can be guilty of compartmentalising our lives (or is that just me?) But that’s not the Christian way. Every aspect of life must be surrendered to God. Every important decision we make: what work we do, who we marry, even where we live. God is to be involved. Through Jesus, he has given us life itself: salvation; a fresh start, forgiveness, the hope of eternity spent with him. If we believe this to be true, how can we not want to surrender all, to love him, to serve him, to follow him, whole-heartedly and willingly, all the days of our lives?

The challenge is there for you and for me, to recognize who Jesus is, our King and our Saviour, and to allow him, his life and his example, to inform and empower the way we live. Totally.   Uncompromisingly.   Sincerely. And without hypocrisy.

 

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From the Churchwardens

 

We now embark on a long period – perhaps between one and two years – while a new Rector is found and appointed. It is a complicated process which has to follow a strict legal pathway and which has to satisfy not just Burwash but also Burwash Weald and Etchingham, as nowadays we are all together in a united benefice.

During the vacancy, a number of priests and a lay reader have kindly agreed to look after us week by week, for which we are truly grateful. There are arrangements (listed in the village magazine each month and on this website) for giving pastoral care and dealing with weddings and baptisms.

We want to try to keep things going as near to normally as possible, but the Covid restrictions do make that difficult. We are only able at present to hold one service a week, with limited numbers. We still ask you to continue to email us each week that you would like to attend. Special services like Remembrance Sunday and Christmas regrettably look very likely to be far from normal. We will try to keep everyone informed of developments via this website, the magazine and the e-bulletins.

During this vacancy, we particularly ask for your whole-hearted help and support, and please do contact one of us if you think things are going wrong. We really need to know.

Vicky Patterson ( thymeplace@gmail.com )

Richard Harden ( rh@richardharden.co.uk )

                        

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The work to replace the roof on St Bartholomew's church has begun. Please take care when walking through the churchyard. During the duration of the work the church will remain closed except for services.

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United Benefice of Burwash,  Burwash Weald & Etchingham  

Normal weekly pattern of Churches opened for private prayer                                                                        

Monday

All Churches

Closed

Tuesday

All Churches

Closed

Wednesday

Assumption of Blessed Mary &

St Nicholas

9am – 4pm

Thursday

St Philip

9am - 4pm

Friday

All Churches

Closed

Saturday

All Churches

Closed

Sunday

All Churches

Closed following Morning Services

             

                                          

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                                   Parish Safegaurding notice12.1905/12/19

If you are unfamiliar with any of our services we hope these notes will be of  use to you and that we will be able to welcome you into our Parish family:

 

Our normal* service pattern is as follows :

  • Every Sunday at 8am – Holy Communion - a traditional said celebration of the Eucharist taken from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) 
  • 1st Sunday of each month at 10.00- Family Service- a short service aimed at families to come along to worship and have fun. Children and young people are encouraged to actively participate.. Coffee is served afterwards.  
  • 1st Sunday of each month at 6pm- Evensong – a traditional evening service as set out in the Book of Common prayer. The service includes readings, psalms and hymns 
  • 2nd Sunday of each month at 10am - Matins - a traditional morning  service as set out in the Book of Common prayer. The service includes readings, psalms and hymns. 
  • 3rd Sunday (& 5th if applicable) of each month at 10am - Family Communion – using a version of Common Worship liturgy which reflects the richness and variety of worship which is available for use Sunday by Sunday. Coffee is served afterwards. 
  • 4th Sunday of each month at 10am - Parish Communion - a celebration of the Eucharist using Common Worship which uses more modern language together with additional readings and hymns

  • Also on the 2nd & 4th Sunday of each month our Sunday Club meets during the main 10am service at the Rectory from 9.45am. The Sunday Club then normally join the Church Family in the Church at 10.45am. Please contact Celia Merchant or one of the Sunday Club Leaders for more details.

At all our services there are facilities for pre school children.Toys & books are always available in our Childrens Corner.

*Please check for changes to service patterns in the Burwash Village Magazine each month or on our website.

 

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