20 Pentecost

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Jesus said to [those trying to entrap him], “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Reverend Karen will bring to us Sunday morning the results of her time with the Spirit of God and her reflections on ‘what things belong to God and what things do not.’ [HINT: There is nothing that ain’t.]

In the past, this passage was used to validate the importance for paying taxes or the necessity to pledge to your church. What those interpretations leave out, however, is that Jesus is implying  —so as not to fall into the trap — that everything belongs to God! All things we encounter – in society, culture, politics (not partisanship), and community rightly belong to God. Everything we have comes from God — not to exploit or deplete, but to manage and to sustain for use by succeeding generations. This is called “stewardship.”

Having not only to do with money (for our income is also a gift from God), stewardship is our birthright – our unique and universal calling from God to take care of creation so it may be enjoyed by our children’s children, to the thousandth generation.

Today, I was struck by the enormity of this duty as it pertains to stewardship of the environment. I am a child of the 1950s, raised though the ‘60s and ‘70s when the groundwork for the utopian holiday “Earth Day” was laid. In those days, I remember the social conversations taking human beings to task for its “mismanagement” of the earth’s resources. From the Cuyahoga river fire to the commercial with the indigenous man shedding a tear as a tossed bag of trash went skidding from a passing car across the pavement landing at his feet, I was inundated with images and reminders that we weren’t doing so well at this God-given task. Will there be clean air and water and tillable soil for maybe two generations? Frankly, it wasn’t looking good. I used to wonder if I was reflecting only the media of the day, or if there is truth behind those images.

This came to mind today as I was out riding my bike. It was hot! Then I realized that it is a hot day, during a hot October, after the hottest September, after the hottest summer in California — and so on. Stay with me here; I am not a scientist, though I have no doubt what they are telling us; that the average global temperature is climbing at an alarming rate. Whether climate change is related to generations of our poor stewardship, I only have an informed opinion. To me, though, it does not matter! What matters is that if we — the human race as a whole — go blithely forward with our sinfully bad management, aka stewardship, of the gifts we have been given by God, the costs are going to kill us.

Rather than trying to figure out the effects of dumping sewage into the ocean, or carbon monoxide into the air, or for hiding evidence of our comfortable plastic lives under the soil, or how we let the value of human beings be determined by stock markets or actuarial tables – rather than any of these and more, if we were to apply “The Mind of Christ” (as Paul has been urging us to do over the last weeks in his letters) to these wounded systems, couldn’t that solve them all? If we took seriously Jesus’ profession that all things belong to God and then to let that inform our behavior and our choices, would our air be cleaner? Would we use as much plastic as we do? Could we “afford” to treat one group of people as if they have fewer rights and less dignity than other people?

Or, is my sixties/seventies Utopian Ethos just refusing to die?

I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Please make your reservations for next Saturday’s in-person outdoor worship on the courtyard on our website’s homepage beginning Monday morning.

Our schedule of ZOOM services remains the same:
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Morning Prayer at 9 a.m.  Here is the worship bulletin for Sunday, October 18.
• Nighttime Prayer is prayed Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Bible Fellowship, open to all, continues Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m.

To ensure participants’ online security, we don’t publish the worship/study ZOOM links; if you did not receive the church-wide email from me with the links, and would like to attend services, please email me and I’ll add you to the e-blast, and send you the links.

Our Sunday morning Adult Forum meets on ZOOM at 10 a.m. We are on a journey with the book, “I’m Still Here; Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,” by Austin Channing Brown. Reading this book is essential in order to join coherently in the discussions. If you’d like to join the discussion, please email Scotty King.

As always, I have my office hours Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. This is meant for general communication for any who wish to ‘drop by’. If you need to speak to me on a private basis, email me that we can find some common time.

Rev. Karen has her office hours on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

May we be vigilant stewards of God’s gifts, even changing our behavior (God forbid), if it would make a difference.