The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday:

“The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.” Matthew 22:15-22

In Matthew’s telling of the story, this event comes toward the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus. As word of his teachings and miracles spread, the crowds became larger. This posed a threat to the status quo in the religious authority, so they sought ways to test him and, hopefully, entrap him by his own words. His answer left them with little to go on, but also a great deal to think about in terms of their own lives.

For the most part, we don’t have political emperors these days, but we are beset by calls for allegiance from many, many directions.

The bottom line question for us as people of God and followers of Jesus remains the same: What belongs to God?

The next question comes from the reality of our daily lives as human beings: how do we balance the demands of our earthly lives with the call from God, and the realization that everything we have comes from God?

We are in the midst of our financial stewardship campaign at St Thomas. Your pledge to St Thomas Church is one important way to support God’s work in this world through your local church, your diocese, and the larger Episcopal Church in this country and around the world. We are part of something much larger than this small, beautiful stone church in the heart of Hunterdon County. We are part of the Jesus Movement that goes well beyond all of us, sharing the love of God and God’s abundant mercy and Grace.

Please consider this as you make your pledge to St Thomas for this coming year.

This week we celebrated the life and ministry of St Luke, physician and evangelist. There is an article in this week’s eblast from Growing Christians about Luke and his connection with the Nativity. It’s a very interesting piece and I commend it to you. I admit: my first response was “Ugh – too early to be thinking about Christmas!” Perhaps it is – but it is time to think and act on the upcoming Tricky Tray – a place where many folks seem to do a lot of Christmas shopping each year. See the information about donations to the Tricky Tray, and be part of making this Tricky Tray the best one ever! Oh, and do read the Growing Christians article.

Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In Christ’s love,
Carol+