The Revised Common Lectionary continues to bring us complicated teachings of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. In an attempt to catch Jesus teaching against the government, the Pharisees ask him about paying taxes. Is it lawful or not? Jesus says to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God the things that are God’s.
This begs the question, what is God’s? Is there another currency that we should throw into the offering plate at church, that’s different than the cash issued by the government? Is Jesus talking about offering our time, bodies, possessions, families, homes, etc up to God? What does it look like to give an offering to God?
Depending on how you take Jesus’ words, this passage could be a great launching point for a stewardship sermon. Many congregations are in that season right now, reminding members that financial support of the church is necessary in order for us to continue to do ministry together.
Or, this story could be seen as promoting a clear division between church and state, between secular and sacred things. What does that mean on a practical level? What concerns arise for your local setting?
This week, sexual harassment and assault have been in the news more than usual. Many folks responded by posting their own experiences on social media. Is there an opening for you to preach on the sacredness of the human body, regardless of gender? What other current events are touching your life or your community’s?
Hebrew Bible readings keep us in either Exodus or Isaiah for another week, while the Epistle moves us into 1 Thessalonians. Will one of these readings be the basis for your sermon? Which of this week’s texts are speaking to you?
Preachers have a sacred responsibility to interpret the biblical text for a new time and place. This is holy work you are doing! Listen to the guidance of the Spirit, and keep on doing your best. God called you to this ministry, so whether you like the lectionary texts or not, you have the gifts you need to proclaim the good news through them! Blessings in your sermon preparation this week.
Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor, writer, chaplain, and canoeing instructor located in Madison, WI. Her garden is still producing ridiculous amounts of zucchini. Anyone want a few?
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