Wednesday, October 19, 2011

render unto God

May my words be in the Name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit - Amen.

Given the topic of the Gospel, the fact that the 'pay & file' deadline is fast approaching, & that I used to be a tax inspector, I was very tempted to preach about paying your taxes!

But instead, I want to talk about how the crowd must have reacted when Jesus turned the tables on the Pharisees when they were trying to trap him. The Pharisees were bright boys … very full of themselves … we might call them the Jesuits of their time … they thought they were being very clever, setting Jesus a question which whatever way he answered he was going to look wrong … but Jesus instead made them look foolish … and I think the crowd of on-lookers must have roared with laughter to see them being caught out … Jesus was one of their own, from a working class background … there is nothing quite so sweet as seeing someone who thinks he's better than everyone else being put firmly in his place!

In fact, I think there must have been a lot of laughter around Jesus … we know he gave his disciples nick-names, for example; not the mark of someone who was grim & serious all the time; he certainly enjoyed a party … the wedding feast at Cana … and his critics called him a glutton and a drunkard … because he loved sitting down at table with his disciples, instead of going around all gloomy and fasting all the time … and it would be hard to believe, when you read about how Jesus and his disciples were waling all over the country side that they didn't shorten the road with some jokes and funny stories … his companions were fishermen and farmworkers … and having spent time in the Navy & spent half my youth on farms, I know full well that jokes and laughter are the order of the day … the same as you get when any group of people gather … and of course, we have to remember that Jesus was fully human … and a sense of humour is one of our most precious gifts from God … joking, smiling, & laughing … the sheer joy of being alive … must have been very much a part of Jesus life … and the lives of those who spent time with him …

The joy and the laughter must have been part of what drew people to him … that brought the every-increasing circle of followers to gather around him … and thinking about our Gospel today, I wonder if that is what we need to 'render unto God' more than anything else today … the sense of joy and fun that there is in being a follower of Christ … church attendance is plummeting everywhere … and yet, given the economic conditions & other causes of misery that are so widespread in our world, one might think that what people need more than anything is the warm glow one gets in one's heart that comes from knowing Christ and following him.

Perhaps we haven't been too good in the past at communicating that sense of joy … maybe we have focused too much on the negatives the 'you mustn't do thats' rather than the positives … we have given ourselves some pretty bad PR … and the time has come to change! Because Jesus wanted people to follow him … and he gave his disciples the job of making disciples of all nations … which means it is our job … and one of the ways we can do that is by showing people how wonderful it is to follow him … and to do that people have to see how much fun we have that comes from that … if we let them think that all the joy in our life comes from other things, secular things, then we are 'rendering unto Caesar' the things that belong to God … and so I pray the you & I & all others will share the joy we have in Christ with all others always … Amen.

Sermon notes for Sunday, 16 October 2011

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