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.

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First century Roman coins, found in Bath, England. Denarius on the left. Photo by Katya Ouchakof. Permission granted to reproduce, with attribution.

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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8 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Money Edition

  1. Oh, thank you for this! This week, I find myself with the rare opportunity to get in some early prep work. I am certain this means I’ve forgotten several other things, but I will make the most of this moment.

    “…the sacredness of the human body…” This one phrase has started the spirit wheels a-turnin’. Are not our whole selves God’s? This is going to be fun!

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  2. We’re in the middle of a stewardship series “Growing in Gratitude” and this week I’m preaching on the Matthew text. If anyone hadn’t already figured out we’re in a stewardship series, this is the week they’ll surely get it, since we’re talking about money. My sermon title borrows a line from the Simpson episode in which Bart’s dinner prayer is, “We paid for all of this ourselves, so thanks for nothing.” For a second reading, I’m using Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. We spend so much of our time earning, managing and worrying about money, it’s easy for it to become our focus. We have very different understandings about money depending on our age, according to a recent Barna study. How do we reconcile all of this with God’s perspective? How do Jesus’ words help us? Lots yet to think about and research, but that’s where I am so far.

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  3. Just finished a funeral sermon..now on to Sunday. Using Matthew..perhaps a different perspective? All belongs to God..ALL..could be a time to talk about holding on to grudges, forgiveness…giving God our sorrow and despair, things that keep us from fully accepting the joy that God has given us and living into the grace and freedom of our Lord? Just thinking out loud. Blessings upon your week, dear Sisters!

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