Love is a verb…

Too often we think of love being a noun.
We think of love as something we possess.
Love as if it is something that we own, that we can either receive or give.
At its best, feelings of love can be abundant.
At its worst, feelings of love can be scarce.
We forget that love is not a noun.
Love is a verb.
“Love God, love neighbor… The whole of scripture hangs on these two commands.”
Love is action that feeds our feelings.
Love is not necessarily a feeling that leads to action.
When we don’t “feel the love” it’s okay, we love through action anyway!

A Matter of Trust…

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Is the coin story about taxation? Money? Politics? Civics?
Or is it about trust?
Today, the Upper New York Annual Conference will vote to empower our trustees to make an offer on property for a new conference center location.
Regardless of the decision’s outcome, there is an interesting title we’ve applied in our organizations.
A trustee.
Someone in whom we place trust to carry out work on our behalf.
What’s the barometer on trust right now?
In our families?
In our churches?
Toward ourselves?
Toward God?
How much do we trust?
There’s another coin more recent that says
“In God we Trust”
Do we?
That’s what Jesus is asking those testing him.
“Give these coins back to the emperor and give ______ back to God.”
What should be in the blank?
Fill it in with whatever God can be trusted to work out on our behalf.

Call It…

The Earth is the Lord’s

Could Jesus be doing a head fake?

Could Matthew as he’s writing out his version of the gospel be doing an homage to an earlier writer?

As Jesus certainly is handing the coin back to the testers who were trying to trap him into a political sticky wicket, Jesus says, “…give to God what is God’s.”

What, then, is God’s?

In fourth grade I had to memorize Psalm 24… so I immediately began to recite this passage when I asked myself the question aloud, “what is the Lord’s?”

Psalm 24 King James Version (KJV)

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

A Flipside to the Coin Story

The Tribute Money – James Tissot

Could it be that Jesus is not giving us a civics lesson?

Is Jesus giving us a priority lesson instead?

Trying to trap Jesus in a civics catch-22, the Pharisees and Herodians show Jesus a coin. Jesus asks whose face is on the coin and they reply it’s the Emperor’s. Jesus says, then give it back to him!

Is Jesus saying, “pay your taxes”?

Could this be the wrong question to ask this text?

Is asking the question, “should I eat a healthy diet everyday?” the right question to pose when reading the Lord’s Supper text.

Sure, there’s eating in that Great and Wonderful Story, but it’s the wrong question for the text.

Could it be that Jesus is saying, “why are you all so worried about this money thing?”

It’s like he’s wrapping up loose ends about the Kingdom of God.

He’s already shown that God will provide food (with tons of leftovers) in the feeding of the 5000. (Matthew 14:13-21)

He’s already said do not worry about clothing. (Matthew 6:28)

He’s already said to his disciples, carry no gold or silver. (Matthew 10:9-10)

And he’s already said what must be done to inherit the Kingdom to the rich young ruler, “go and sell your possessions, give it to the poor and then follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

Indeed, this story about the coin is more about letting go of that which holds us, namely in this account, the anxiety of worldly treasures.

Jesus teaches: “Seek first God’s Kingdom.” – Matthew 6:33

How can you prioritize God’s community today in your life?

Run For A Great Cause!

Woman Jogging Blur“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us!” – Hebrews 12:1

We have an opportunity to run to make a difference. Lee & Linda Pollock are traveling to Nepal in March to continue working with the village where Lee taught during his Peace Corps days in the 70s. The Goblin Gallop is October 25th. The 5K is at 9AM and the walk is at 10am. Both are at the Abe Wing School. Registration is online here.

What’s in a Coin?

What’s in a coin? That which we call money with any other face could still hold us captive…

I wonder if this would be Shakespeare’s take on Jesus that time when Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and Herodians (an odd-couple match-up to the extreme!).

They kiss up and Jesus can see through their silly attempt at flattery.

They ask, “should we pay taxes to Rome?”

They think they’ve backed him into a corner… somehow Jesus is going to have to show his political affiliation…

Is Jesus for the Empire? Or is Jesus for Israel? Or even worse, is he going to be a hypocrite and play to both sides, like his testers?

What we miss often times with this story is how Jesus won the moment even before he said the famous phrase…

He gets them to trap themselves!

Jesus says, “show me the coin.”

They pull out a denarius, a Roman coin that was forbidden to be used or brought into the Temple because the coin contained the graven image of a man who referred to himself as the son of God.

Right there!

They were in the temple and they had a roman coin on them… against the Jewish Law!

Notice that Jesus didn’t pull one out… because he didn’t have any!

“Whose face is on the coin?”, Jesus asks.

“The Emperor’s”, they reply.

Jesus basically responds, “then if it has Caesar’s face on it, why do you have it?”

Jesus, in essence, says to them, “it’s not yours… don’t act like it’s yours, don’t live as if it’s yours…don’t hold onto it as if it’s yours… don’t let it rule you, don’t let it have power over you…”

“What you should be concerned about, however, is how you are God’s” is the second part of Jesus’ statement.

and if you belong to God… what should you be giving back to God?

how can we live as if we belong to God?

Community-Wide Trick or Treat Fest!

Pumpkin Face

Trick or Treat on Sat. Oct. 25th from 6-7

Invite friends and family from around the community to come to the Trick or Treat Fest on Oct. 25th, 6-7pm.

The lower level of the Church will have every door ready to hand out treats to children as they “trick or treat” in a safe, warm location!

REQUESTS: We need 13 church members to be door “answerers” for community Trick or Treaters. This can be adults or teens for 1 hr.  We also could use a few (ok… a TON) of bags of candy to hand out! Please notify the church office if you are able.

Also, mark your calendars… the Church Talent Show and Potluck: November 15th, 6pm

Community Harvest Dinner Coming Soon…

Harvest Dinner

Our Church’s Harvest Dinner is Delicious!

Invite everyone you know to dine on Sat., Nov. 8, 4:30-6:30pm.

Menu: turkey, homemade gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrot salad and homemade pies.

Price: adults, $11.00; seniors $10.00; children (4-11), $6.00; children under 4 years of age, free.

Contact Jim Dexter: 480-3054; jcdexter718@gmail.com.

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