Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 25th June 2024

Tax – to pay or not?

Dear friends,

Jesus famously once got into a row about taxes. The Roman Empire paid for itself by imposing levies upon the lands it conquered, arousing no little ire in the conquered peoples who were possibly less enthusiastic about the Roman empire than the Romans themselves. Some Jewish leaders, fed up with Jesus’ popularity with the common people, attempted to catch him out (in the manner of a Radio 4 interviewer) by asking him directly in public (in the Jerusalem Temple, no less) whether he supported this paying of taxes to Rome. The trap being that if Jesus said yes, then he’d lose face with the populace for siding with the oppressor, and if he’d said no, then he could be reported to the local militia for sedition.

Jesus, in wonderful brilliance, asks to see a coin – a denarius – about a day’s wages. “Who’s this?” he says, pointing at the image on the coin. “Caesar,” comes back the reply. “Well then,” says Jesus. “You’d better give to Caesar what belongs to hm. And give to God what belongs to God.”

In a stroke, he demonstrates both the leader’s duplicity  (found in cahoots with the Roman system – with Caesar’s image in their very purses) and God’s overarching Lordship. I can imagine him giving a sweeping gesture to encompass the whole Temple as he says “give to God….” The smallness of the coin and Caesar’s image, contrasted with the vastness of the Temple buildings, symbolising God’s rule and reign over the whole Universe. Caesar is put in his place, the Jewish leaders are exposed, and God is glorified. All in two sentences. No wonder people “were amazed  at him”. Read it for yourself in Mark 12:13-17.

Worship Services for Sunday 30th June

10.30am Team Service of Holy Communion at St Mary’s Whitchurch on Thames. Celebrant – the Revd Dr James Leach. Preacher – the Revd Canon Kevin Davies. A great chance to come together as a Team, and enjoy worship, and refreshments afterwards in the garden of St Mary’s House.

Midweek zoom service: Wednesday at 5.00pm  410 935 129

Always read the small print

This beautiful clematis has really enjoyed the cool, wet, spring, and is now giving everything in a vibrant splash of generosity and praise. The variety is “Comptesse de Bouchard” and I perceive it to be included in the sweep of Jesus’ arm: not a penny of tax is due – no PAYE, VAT, CGT or even IHT. Caesar has no claim here.

Your servant, for Christ’s sake. Revd Kevin.



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