I’ve been putting my sermon together over the last few days while my thoughts have been flooded with political commercials, debate, and commentaries. I finally came up with a less than original working theme: “politics and living out our faith.” I wish I could say that my words would be provocative enough to do more than make you let out a huge sigh. Jesus spoke directly to the issue of politics and faith almost 2,000 years ago. We are invited, along with all of our sisters and brothers in Christ, to hear once again his answer about God and government. (Gospel of Matthew 22:15-22: "Render unto Caesar ...")
As we look deeper at the question that is delivered by the disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians who, by the way, have been sent to trick or entrap Jesus in vs 15, the question isn’t really about whether or not you should pay your taxes or to whom you should pay your taxes. The question is: Who has the authority?
This question about authority immediately makes us tilt our heads a bit and say, "Wait! What about separation of church and state?" To this, we can smile together and say, "Ah! When I say, 'the Lord is my Savior,' I am making my political statement." This does not give us the right to throw out the name of Jesus as an assault or insult to anyone else. Instead, we humbly and faithfully stand with a heart of mercy and compassion for the hungry, naked, mistreated, disrespected, abused, and abuser. We stand as well with all of our sisters and brothers in witness to God’s gift of creation. We do so out of love.
We hear in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 this message of hope that, as children of God, we have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to be imitators of the Lord making God known to everyone, serving only God and sharing the Good News that it is Jesus who rescues us from death. May this Good News be our new song in a hurting world for all to hear this day.
O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.
Believing it strongly,