In this passage, Jesus asks to see the coin used to pay the taxes to the emperor. He asks what image is on the coin and counsels to “Give . . . to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Earlier in this week we examined our “coins” and the things on which we place value through our time, attention, resources, and energy.
As those who belong to God, let us consider that it is our human image that is written on God’s “coin.” Created in God’s image in the womb of creation, God forever marked us as beloved. God carries our image stamped on God’s heart, cherished, cared for, loved, and nurtured. God holds us in great value.
Like the children of Israel in Exodus 33, we have been selfish and “stiff-necked.” We often make decisions that do not offer life to one another or to the world that God has created. We spend our lives seeking the treasures of the earth and losing our way in a culture that values riches over relationships. We cannot recognize our own selfishness and greed. Yet God continues to woo us and to love us. This God of creation, the one to whom we belong, holds us in love and invites us into a new commandment, that we should love God and love our neighbors.
Holy One, creator of the universe, creator of us, you lovingly formed us in your image at the dawn of creation. We are beloved children of yours, and you love us more than we can imagine. We are astounded at the possibility that you carry our picture written on your heart. We are beloved children of yours, the one who created us and loves us no matter who we are or what we have done. Create in us desire to serve you, to love you with all our hearts, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Amen.
Popular images often portray God as a passive grandfather figure. However, this is not the picture scripture provides. God’s presence has a profound impact on the physical world. In Exodus, Moses feels insecure about the calling on his life and asks to see God’s glory. God in part grants this request, but no one can experience the presence of God completely and live. The psalmist describes how God is exalted and how God’s holiness shakes the earth itself. The New Testament readings explore different themes. Paul opens his letter to the Thessalonians by commending them for their faith and partnership in the spreading of the gospel. In Matthew, the Pharisees attempt to trap Jesus in his words, yet he confounds their efforts.
Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you struggled to believe that God is with you? How did you find a sign of God’s presence?
Read Psalm 99. How has God heard your cry? How can you listen with God for the cries of others?
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. When does your faith call you to live in a countercultural way? How do you show the world how to live?
Read Matthew 22:15-22. You belong to God. How do you feel God’s call on your life?
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