Laity Sunday, October 18, 2020, Twentieth Sunday after Pentacost

Tribute Penny Cover Image

Denarius of the Emperor Tiberius, commonly referred to as the Tribute Penny.
The inscription reads “Ti[berivs] Caesar Divi Avg[vsti] F[ilivs] Avgvstvs” (“Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus”) –image from wikipedia

Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service

“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”

For your reflection:  “I’ve spent so many years talking about poverty and economic justice, I’m strongly tempted to get biblical. Jesus’ teachings are so radical; they’re just insanely generous and apocalyptic. Christians become more fascinated by the dead Jesus. They don’t like the living Jesus.”     –Barbara Ehrenreich

Question:   What does “economic justice” mean to you?  What do you see as the role and function of taxes in our society?  What is the difference between a “living” Jesus and a “dead” Jesus for you?  Can you imagine a different kind of economy practiced by our society or any society?

Welcome and Call to Worship    (responsive)

Rev. Dee

Through prayer and practice, we pursue what is just, what is true, what is kind.

With each new day, we hope for Love to lead us.

With discernment, we wade bravely into the struggles of life together.

We yearn for wisdom that satisfies.

Persistently, faithfully, relentlessly, we keep our gaze set upon righteousness.

Determined in hope, may the Holy be our firm foundation.


We prepare ourselves for worship

God’s Light Grows

You are invited to light a candle as you worship with us.

Gathering Prayer   (Unison)

Beloved One, in the midst of worrisome and troubled days, we seek refuge in your presence.

In your care, we find a place to tend our fears and air our grief, to hold our anger, and to renew our passion for collective good.

Draw us near to you, O God, and meet us as we are with your restorative love. Amen

Passing the Peace

Leader:       The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

People:      And also with you.

A Word with the Children

Rev. Dee

Gathering Hymn

#436    God of Grace and God of Glory

God of Grace and God of Glory

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

The Contemporary Reading

by Patrick T. Reardon   reprinted/used with permission from author

read by Dorothy/Jerry Liddel

Caesar will do what Caesar will do.

Do the lilies worry?

Do the lilies give orders to the sun?

The rain? The soil food?


The rain does what the rain does.

The lily stretches to the sun.

The lily turns its face to the sun.

The lily reaches out roots.

The roots reach and reach and suck in the soil food.

The rain comes. The soil drinks. The lily drinks.


The soul of the soil is silent.

The soil’s soul is as deep as the pain of breathing,

as deep as the delight of the lily in the bright-white sun.


Amen. Alleluia.

The Lord gives. The Lord takes away.

Caesar will do what Caesar will do.


I am a lily among lilies on the mountainside,

a field of lilies with roots that reach out,

stretch, wrap and intertwine, sharing soil-food,

the rain, the hug of the sun. And the danger of

a hoof and the nibble of a rabbit and a passing stroller

who takes a fancy to the bloom.


It is autumn now. The snow of winter will come.

Each flower will die and, in the spring, be reborn.

Is this consolation?


The seasons do what the seasons do.

I bloom and endure until enduring is over.


Patrick T. Reardon, 11.9.16

Musical Meditation

A Reading from the Gospel

read by Zeke Ross

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.


Render  by Rev. Dee Ledger


#551    Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior


Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Faith and Democracy Moment

We encourage you to view this message by Rev. Matthew Braddock, Senior Minister, Christ Congregational Church UCC, Silver Spring, MD

Stewardship Moment

Jim Smith   


If you wish to give to support the work of Bethesda UCC, you can donate via Venmo @Bethesda-UCC or send a check via mail to Bethesda UCC c/o Treasurer; 10010 Fernwood Road; Bethesda, MD 20817

We grieve the broken and unjust economic systems that surround us. We remember all who are left without needs met this day, and seek to be faithful, just, and generous in the stewardship of all our resources. Renouncing all loyalties to wealth and power, let us bring our offerings to God and one another.

We thank you for your generous support of this faith community and of our ministry together.

Unison Prayer of Dedication

God of Redemption, by your grace we learn to perceive differently. Where we once justified our complicity with evil, you set us on a new path.

With humility, we keep seeking to understand your truths more deeply. To refine our love. To release all that keeps us from the great re-ordering of things and the Kin-dom come on earth. With thanks and determination, we bring our gifts to you. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Our Mother/Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.


#77     Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing

Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing lyrics and music

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Benediction  (responsive)

Faithful are we when we remain the course,

clinging to the promises of resurrection until the day of liberation.

May we be courageous in renouncing evil in word and practice.

May we be undeterred through mistakes and setbacks.

May we be attentive to the motivations of our own hearts.

The Spirit will rise up among the willing.

Let us go with peace to join in the work of God.


Musical Selection

Liturgical Resources/Credits:   Except where specifically noted, our liturgy today is from and adapted to our setting.  

More Food for Spiritual Thought: “The less you have of Caesar’s the less you have to render to Caesar.” – Dorothy Day

More about us

Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church.  United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:

Bethesda United Church of Christ
10010 Fernwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland  20817

Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger

Music Director: Kay Krekow

Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.

Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.

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