Home Service 6th November 2022

Prayers of Approach

We come from a world full of questions – some simple, some hard, some seemingly trivial, some immense, some quick to answer, some seemingly impossible.

God, our parent, teacher, mentor and guide, as we come to worship may we come to you with enquiring hearts, eager to learn, confident that you will never reject our smallest question, and willing to walk with you in faith when no answers can be given.

God of life and death, we bring to you our hearts and minds, our questions and our fears, our understanding and our uncertainty, those we love and those who are in trouble, knowing that with you all are safe, as we are, in life, in death and beyond.

God of all, we thank you for Scripture and those around us who remind us that you are greater than our greatest fears, that you are the giver of life and do not let us go, even in death, but draw us into the resurrection life of your kingdom, which, now, we only glimpse – but one day will see clearly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn 96 Great is thy faithfulness (R&S 96)

Readings: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Luke 20:27-38


Some Sadducees ask Jesus about belief in the resurrection of the dead, framed around a hypothetical situation involving widows and remarriage. Their intention is to catch him out and challenge his authority. Jesus’ response is that the important thing about resurrection is that God is God of the living, not the dead.

The Sadducees seem to have come to Jesus with an important question, but their intention – and even the question itself – is ill conceived. This leads us to consider more genuine and appropriate forms of asking questions, and the vital role they play in an open exploration of faith.

The Thessalonians have been shaken by a message that ‘the day of the Lord is already here’, so they are reminded of the good news. Jesus will return at the right time, and for now he is strengthening them in word and deed.

Hymn 264 He is Lord, he is Lord (R&S 264)


Most of us, at some time or another, have probably wondered what life after death will be like, or what heaven is like, and will we go there? As our Gospel reading today shows it is an age old question, one which has divided opinions and to which there can be no definitive answers. The Sadducees were an influential group in first century Jewish society but they did not believe in resurrection or life after death so their question to Jesus probably had an ulterior motive, although it may have seemed perfectly reasonable to the crowd.

The law of levirate marriage provided for the welfare of widows and the continuation of the family for those men who had died without having children. It said that the brother of the man who had died should marry his widow and any children of that marriage would be considered to be the children of the deceased man. In that way the woman would not be left destitute with no sons to support her and the dead man’s family would continue. The Sadducees however seemed determined to take it to extremes. Seven brothers each married the woman and each died without having children – after the resurrection whose wife is she? The question has become ridiculous.

But could the question be genuine? There are many questions in life that seem ridiculous, but even so they need to be considered seriously and some of them even deserve answers. Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) is a regular Wednesday lunchtime feature of UK parliamentary life but we might wonder if the questions are ‘genuine’ and, even more so, the ‘answers’, which seldom seem to answer the question posed. If they are not genuine, what is

really going on? But what about the Sadducees’ question – was it genuine? And Jesus’ answer? What is a real or genuine question? What kind of questions do we find most helpful in exploring our faith?

Do we sometimes fail to ask questions either because we are afraid of looking foolish or of showing doubt? Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of heaven, people had to become like little children but we often misunderstand what this means because we have a mistaken idea of what little children are like. We think that being like children means we should just accept things without question. Anyone who has or deals with young children however knows that the very last thing children do is accept without question! Children delight in the word, ‘Why?’ And they are relentless in using it. Everything an adult says seems to provoke another ‘Why?’ Every answer leads to another, until the adult runs out of information or patience and, in desperation, resorts to, ‘Oh, just because!’ That endless questioning however is because the child is genuinely engaged with life, fascinated by it, passionate about wanting to understand.

And isn’t it passionate engagement with the world that has led to all the discoveries humanity has every made about the cosmos and ourselves? And these discoveries, when properly used, have enabled us to do so much good – and, for people of faith, have magnified the wonder of our creator beyond calculation. Science, like religion, requires people who are childlike in their insatiable curiosity and craving to question.

There is much about our faith that is only partially understood, or beyond our understanding. Where do we find such situations today? Situations where we don’t know what is going to happen next, but we have to carry on – in faith? Perhaps the question the Sadducees and Jesus were wrestling with – after death, what next? – is one of them. Perhaps the challenge for Christian faith is to do likewise – to wrestle with those questions and to be childlike in our unrelenting use of the word ‘why?’

Hymn 588 Blest be the everlasting God (R&S 588)

Prayers of Intercession

We praise you, loving God, for the breath of life, for the assurance of eternal life, for the lives of all those we love, and for your kingdom where all fear will pass and all questions be answered, as we grow into life in all its fullness.

God of truth and justice, we pray for our world, a world in which corruption and deceit are all too easily seen, where misplaced ambition becomes idolatry, and where those in need are often disregarded or trampled underfoot.

God of truth and justice, we pray that your kingdom will be made known among us and through us; that your Spirit will cut through human greed, cruelty and lies, and point to a better way of living.

God of truth and justice, we pray for those with influence – may those who advise be wise and not self-serving, may those who lead remember the lost and the least, and may those who proclaim your name do so with integrity and compassion. May Jesus be the way, the truth and the life in our world, in our community, in your church, in our lives. Amen.

Hymn 569 We pause to give thanks (R&S 569)


Heavenly Father, send us out into the world as children full of wonder. Give us the boldness of children in asking awkward questions, a child’s playful delight in the mystery of things, and a childlike trust in you – the one who knows what we cannot. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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