18th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 24

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Third Sunday in Advent December 11, 2011 Third Sunday of Advent, Year B Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Canticle 15; John 1:6-8, 19-28
Second Sunday in Advent December 4, 2011 Second Sunday in Advent, Year B Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
First Sunday in Advent November 27, 2011 First Sunday in Advent, Year B Genesis 28:10-17; Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37
Last Sunday After Pentecost November 20, 2011 Christ the King Sunday, Year A Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Matthew 25:31-46
22st Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 28 November 13, 2011 Sermon, Proper 28 Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
21st Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 27 November 6, 2011 Sermon, Proper 27, Year A, All Saints’ Sunday Matthew 25:1-13; Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-20
20th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 26 October 30, 2011 Proper 26, Year A Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12
19th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 25 October 23, 2011 Proper 25, Year A Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
18th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 24 October 16, 2011 Proper 24, Year A Matthew 22:15-22, Psalm 96
17th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 23 October 9, 2011 Proper 23, Year A Isaiah 25:1-12; Matthew 22:1-14
15th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 21 September 25, 2011 Proper 21, Year A Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-8; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32
13th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 19 September 11, 2011 Sermon, Proper 19, Year A Matthew 18:21-35; Romans 14:1-12
12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 18 September 4, 2011 Sermon, Proper 18, Year A Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20
10th Sunday After Pentecost – “But who do you say that I am?” August 21, 2011 Proper 16, Year A Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20
9th Sunday after Pentecost Year A – Canaanite Woman August 14, 2011 Sermon, Proper 15, Year A Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

 

18th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 24

Sermon Date:October 16, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22, Psalm 96

Liturgy Calendar: Proper 24, Year A


In the week before his death and resurrection, while Jesus was teaching in the temple, the Pharisees and the Herodians came to Jesus with a question.  They hoped either to turn the crowd against him, or to have him commit blasphemy against Rome. 

The question–
“Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Caesar, or not?”

And Jesus asked for a denarius. 

The  denarius was the most common coin found in the Roman Empire, and with one denarius, a person could buy about seven loaves of bread.  A laborer earned the equivalent of about a denarius a day.

On the denarius was the head of Caesar, the ruler of the Roman Empire.  Caesar was involved in every transaction.  Caesar was everywhere.  Money, which everyone needed to survive, was literally made in Caesar’s image, so that people were constantly reminded that all things ultimately came from Caesar and belonged to Caesar—because in the Roman Empire

Caesar was God.

Holding the denarius, Jesus said,

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

 And what exactly are the things that belong to God? 

Jesus reminds the Pharisees and the Herodians and everyone in the crowd that Caesar may rule an empire, but that God created the heavens and the earth and that all of creation, including Ceasar’s empire, belongs to God.   We are stamped with God’s own image. 

The things that belong to God are each and every one of us and all of creation.   

Think about it.  Because we are made in God’s image, God deeply desires that each and every one of us will offer ourselves to be used for God’s work and for God’s glory in this world so that God can be more visible and known in the world.    

Now let’s take a look at the images on our dollar bill.

We find on our dollar bill the ideas that God is watching over us, that God approves our participation in the ongoing creation of this great nation and that this civilization represents something new.  And all of our undertakings, ideally, are based on our trust in God. 

On the back of the bill we find the Great Seal of the United States. 

On the left hand side of the bill we see the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. 

According to Wikipedia—In  1782, the Eye of Providence was adopted as part of the symbolism of the seal.  The Eye of Providence, the all-seeing eye of God, is a symbol showing an eye often surrounded by rays of light and enclosed by a triangle.  This eye represents the eye of God watching over us, divine providence.  The triangle represents the Trinity. 

The unfinished pyramid has thirteen steps, which represent the first thirteen colonies and the future growth of the country.  It’s really hard to see, but on the bottom step of the foundation, you can see the year 1776 written out in Roman numerals. 

This seal contains two Latin inscriptions. 

Around the eye we find the words Annuit Coeptis, Latin meaning “He has approved our undertakings.”

Novus Ordo Seclorum, the Latin at the bottom of the seal, means “New Order of the Ages.”

 In the middle of the bill we find the words “In God we Trust,” with the word “One” spelled out beneath.   

Now each of us is one person, made in God’s image, placed here on earth to carry out God’s work in the world. 

Imagine with me that instead of that One spelled out on the dollar bill, a portrait of you appears there instead.  One person, appointed by God, watched over by God, to create a new order for the ages—and as Christians, that new order that we long for is what we pray for in the Lord’s prayer—

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

Now imagine that every time you spend a dollar, you yourself  go to  the place that dollar goes.  For instance, let’s say that you decide to  send $1000 to help the people who are starving in Somalia.  It’s as if you have  just sent one thousand of yourself to the assistance of those who are hungry in the world, so that God is more visible and God’s love and care is more tangible in that place because you have gone there through your offering of money.     

As St Augustine said, “"To come to the aid of the poor, members of Christ, is to come to the aid of Christ the Head who is present and in need in the poor" (St. Augustine, Sermon 53 A, 6; Sermon 236, 3).

Or what if you spend $1000 on illegal drugs?  It’s as if 1000 of you are involved in a life of crime. 

According  to the symbolism on our dollar bill, God is watching us, and God is a witness to what we do with our money, how we spend ourselves—for something good, or something bad, or maybe just something we need to survive. 

So often, we spend money with little or no thought behind what we are doing. 

But if  I think of myself, being made in God’s image, being present and  visible in how I use what I buy or give away , then I find that my perspective changes. 

I find myself asking, “Where do I want to be found doing God’s work?”

Every Sunday we take up an offering.  The money we pledge to the church and place in the plate is an offering of ourselves, symbolized by our money, that allows us to be in the world as the Body of Christ.

God is visible in the wonderful ways in which we, the body of Christ here at St Peter’s, reach out to one another and to our community through using money that we have given to the church. That money is used for outreach—through the discretionary fund, through our community dinners, for the Samaritan’s Purse boxes, for the outreach projects all over the world that are funded by the United Thank Offering…..

And our church building itself, like that unfinished pyramid on the dollar bill, represents the future growth of God’s kingdom.  How well we maintain and grow our church speaks volumes to the world about our hope for the future of Christianity and of God’s visible presence in this nation.  

Today, when the offering plate comes around, you are welcome to place your dollar bill in the offering plate, remembering that you, yourself, made in the image of God, are offering yourself back to God, so that through your actions, God will be more visible in the world. 

Or you are welcome to take the dollar bill with you, and use the money somewhere out in the world  so that God can become more visible and present to someone  based on what you choose to do with this money. 

Remember, each one of us is made in the image of God.  Each one of us belongs to God. 

As the Psalmist  reminds us, “Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth…..”  because God is doing something new in us and through us, we sing a new song. 

In thanksgiving then, “Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; bring offerings and come into his courts.”

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Amen

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