Musings from the Manse 18 October 2020

Matthew 22:1-15

A group of pharisees were out to trick Jesus. So, they asked him, “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” Now, this might not sound like a trick question, but it was. The imperial tax meant that the Romans forcefully took money from the Jews and if the Jews did not pay it, they were punished. If Jesus said yes to paying taxes, it would make the Jews very angry. But if Jesus said no, this was reason to send him straight to jail for defying Emperor Caesar. Instead, Jesus does not say yes or no. On the other hand, his answer was quite simple. He instructed them to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. 

Many people have heard the old saying: “Don’t talk about religion and politics.” But I think there’s grave danger in abiding by this saying. Our reluctance to talk about religion and politics is one of the reasons, as a society, we’re facing such a hostile environment these days. Instead of digging into the difficult work of learning how to talk (and disagree) with one another on serious matters of the heart and soul, we punted and let the adage create a false narrative that polite folks don’t engage in such conversations. 

First, as Christians, we must talk about our faith. Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, to share the good news of love and light with all we meet. Our faith is fundamental to the why of our lives. And politics is central to the how we live our lives. Political systems provide an infrastructure for safety, education, health, care for creation, our financial system, and so much more. If we can’t talk about the why and how of our lives, what is there to talk about besides the weather?! In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is clear about maintaining a separation of church (religion) and state (politics), but that doesn’t mean they’re not connected. Our civic decisions should be deeply rooted in our faith values. The two are not separate streams never to run together but ones that feed into the same body of water, this world in which we live and love. 

This lesson from Matthew is also one often used to start discussions about stewardship. Are we remembering to give to God what is God’s? I often ask myself these questions; Am I giving to God what is God’s? and Am I living out my Christian Vocation, my baptismal vocation? 

How do we as Christians ensure that we are calling for Justice and giving of ourselves through acts of Love, hope and peace, in our communities, in our work or leisure time, and in this world? Each one of us has been entrusted with the care of all of God’s creations: the land, the animals, and one another. God has blessed us with gifts and passions to do such work, to be such stewards, and yet, we forget to use these blessings for such a cause, sometimes we forget to give of ourselves to God, because stewardship isn’t just about money. It’s so much more. When I think of stewardship, I think about superheroes because stewardship is also about using your gifts and talents and giving those to God as well. Superheroes use their gifts and talents so clearly and wear them visibly on their sleeves. They live their lives based on those special gifts. What if we chose to be stewards like them? What are our gifts and talents? How can we be good stewards? 

And remember, there is a superhero in all of us. 

Let us remember before God our Father our country and its people 
and give thanks for them and for all people. 

We pray you, hear your people.

That everywhere on earth the Church may speak out without fear 
for peace and the rights and dignity of the human person, let us pray: 

We pray you, hear your people.

That justice, love and responsible freedom 
may be the basis of the social order in the world and in our country, 
that all may live in peace and security, let us pray: 

We pray you, hear your people.

That all humanity may share equitably 
in the world’s material and spiritual goods, 
and that the state and civic organizations may help and protect 
the weak and the victims of calamities, let us pray: 

We pray you, hear your people.

That all citizens may have a strong sense of civic responsibility 
and actively participate toward the common welfare; let us pray: 

We pray you, hear your people.

That the Church in our country may bear witness to God’s kingdom; 
that our country may play a role of honour in the family of nations 
and cooperate to world peace and unity, let us pray: 

We pray you, hear your people.

God, you love people and people are your concern. 
Make us share in your care 
through your Son who became one of us, 
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev Nik Wooller

18th October 2020

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