Sermon for October 18, 2020 20th after Pentecost
Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16
In the Exodus teaching we hear that God has seen Moses and knows his name. This extends throughout time even to this day, God knows our name and embraces who we are and becoming. When Moses asked to see God, God was a little reluctant to show Moses or anyone His full image and face. I have a sense that God knew that when the mystery was fully exposed then God would become ordinary. We know plenty about God but not completely. That I find intriguing.
I suspect that many find magic tricks interesting and fascinating. But would they be so if you knew what was happening? The unknown, mysterious and intriguing are alluring to us humans. Which perhaps explains the foundations for space exploration. Which also explains that thousands of years we have been trying to understand God. For those who cannot live with this mysterious God the solution is simply that God is dead. We can get so close but there is always mystery, and that keeps me and us searching. And how good is that, that we continue to know a bit of God and Jesus in our day and context.
Skip ahead a few thousand years and the politicians are wanting to catch Jesus in a trap. The question is: should taxes be paid. This was certainly the unanswerable question because Jesus was going to alienate the politicians or the Jews. No way to get of this one…or is there. The question is a political one and the expectation is that it would be answered in the same fashion.
Jesus responds with a theologically by asking for a coin and asking whose inscription is on it? And then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. and the scribes and Pharisees simply say huh! And walk away.
God is after something considerable more valuable than our money, God is looking for us. Our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. God smiles at our curiosity and places in our way all sorts of ways to be in awe of God. Always enough to keep us seeking and never enough to totally and completely discover. In an age that demands quick, neat, clean answers our God simply says; look around, look in the mirror. One of the greatest attributes of God and Jesus for me is that there is always something new. No matter how many times I have preached the lectionary, no matter how many bible studies, no matter how many documentaries and studies there are about God and Jesus, there is always something new. A new aha moment, a, I never looked at it that way before and new insight form a new perspective. God is not revealed in a moment and then shelved for all time. Remember the ancient stories of God; do not put me in a box, do build stone around me, a simple open flapped tent will do so that I may be in the midst of the people. It is we humans that wanted to define God, Box God in, package God up neatly and wrap God up with ribbon and bow. But God says no, I will be a mystery and curiosity for the people so that will not lose interest. And it has been that way forever.
The paradox is: that the harder we look for God the more elusive God becomes. If we just stop…God becomes nearer than we ever imagined. Our ego designed constructs keep God at a distance, our opening to mystery and wonder draw God closer.
Jesus asks; whose image is on the coin?
Jesus says; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body and spirit and there is more, you shall love your neighbour. Then maybe, just maybe we glimpse God.
God says: I know you by name, I have imprinted my name on your heart, you have found grace in my sight.
So yes, give the finite coins to Caesar…but give your infinite heart to God.