SUNDAY DEVOTION: COINS
PRELUDE: Today, Lent in Plain Sight: A Devotion through ten objects, invites us to look at Mark 12:13-17. The object is a coin. The title of the meditation is “The Image on the Coin”. If you have the book, read the meditation (pages 67-69). Watch the following video based on the passage: Jesus and Politics. It’s on YouTube.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy never cease,
fresh as the morning and sure as the sunrise.
Listen to “O Come and Sing Unto the Lord” GTG 638: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYyN2Xe4qeQ
PRAYER (Use this prayer or one of your own)
O God, you are infinite,
eternal and unchangeable,
glorious in holiness,
full of love and compassion,
abundant in grace and truth.
Your works everywhere praise you,
and your glory is revealed
in Jesus Christ our Savior.
Therefore we praise you,
blessed and holy Trinity,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 12:13-17 (Common English Bible)
13 They sent some of the Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you’re genuine and you don’t worry about what people think. You don’t show favoritism but teach God’s way as it really is. Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay taxes or not?” 15 Since Jesus recognized their deceit, he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a coin. Show it to me.” 16 And they brought one. He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” His reply left them overcome with wonder.
REFLECTION (Pastor Marissa)
In today’s devotional, Jill Duffield asks what seems to be a simple question: “If Jesus is Lord of all and the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, how can anything truly belong to the Emperor?”
It reminded me of a representation I saw of this passage (which appears also in Matthew) in a movie called The Miracle Maker, which is one of my favorite movies about Jesus’ life. In it, Jesus says the words “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” looking directly into the eyes of the Pharisees and supporters of Herod that want to trick him with his questions and then says out loud to anyone that wants to hear “And to God what belongs to God!”.
I think some people interpret this passage to impose Christianity upon the world. Since everything belongs to God, then those in power should be placed there by God, or every law in the land should represent “Christian” values, meaning that anyone that disagrees find themselves at a disadvantage or in a place where they are rejected or forgotten.
Others interpret the passage to say that everything should be divided. The church should not speak about politics, it should not take sides, and the state should not have any say about religion.
I think both of these interpretations are extreme. I certainly believe that everything belongs to God, and that we should function, as a society, with our eyes on the values of the kin-dom. Our priorities should align with the ones that Jesus taught us, and our loyalties should be given to God, who created the world and everything in it. I truly believe that the coin that is given to Jesus belongs, not to Caesar, but to God… but if that is the case, then I also believe it is our responsibility to take care of everything that belongs to God, and to extend God’s grace in the same fashion that I imagine Jesus did… even to those Pharisees and supporters of Herod.
I read some words said by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II that I invite you to reflect on. He says, in the context of the world-wide crisis that we are living with the COVID-19 virus: “Take time to meditate on our interrelated humanity. This virus can infect anyone, black, white, or brown, rich or poor, gay or straight. We should see every issue like this.”
Jesus invites us to see every issue like this, when he says out loud “And to God what belongs to God!” What Jesus may be doing there is calling us to stop determining who is right, and who is wrong, who is worthy or has the money to receive good care, who belongs to our group or who doesn’t… and to start caring for everything that belongs to God. We should always ask: What are God’s priorities in this particular situation that we find ourselves in as God’s creation? And then go out… and take care of those that have been forgotten, rejected, made invisible on purpose, or incapacitated because of their age, color of skin, etc… knowing that they too, belong to God.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION (From Lent In Plain Sight, a Devotion Through Ten Objects. p. 69)
Notice the coins that you have. Look at the words and images and consider how they reflect the gospel and how they contradict it.
Where do you place your ultimate loyalty? What things, ideas, or even people are you tempted to put before God?
HYMN: When We Are Living / Pues si vivimos GtG 822: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfTY-uU7ON0
THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION (Book of Common Worship. Flash Drive Version.)
Satisfy us with your love in the morning, Ps. 90:14
and we will live this day in joy and praise.
Mighty God of mercy,
we thank you for the resurrection dawn
bringing the glory of our risen Lord
who makes every day new.
Especially we thank you for
the mission and ministry of the church . . .
every service that proclaims your love . . .
the people and relationships that sustain us . . .
our calling to daily discipleship . . .
signs of new life and hope . . .
Merciful God of might,
renew this weary world,
heal the hurts of all your children,
and bring about your peace for all
in Christ Jesus, the living Lord.
Especially we pray for
the church of Jesus Christ in every land . . .
the stewardship and healing of creation . . .
friends and family members . . .
neighbors in special need . . .
all who serve your mission in the world . . .
Eternal God, our beginning and our end,
be our starting point and our haven,
and accompany us in this day’s journey.
Use our hands
to do the work of your creation,
and use our lives
to bring others the new life you give this world
in Jesus Christ, redeemer of all. Amen.
Unison: The grace of God be with us all, 1 Tim. 6:21
now and always. Amen.
Bless the Lord. The Lord’s name be praised.