St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Sermon for October 19th, 2008

Sermon for October 19, 2008
St. James’ Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

Is it Lawful to pay taxes? Well it isn’t pleasant. We have been dealing with the property taxes in several counties in Indiana and they each seem to have their own interpretations of the new State of Indiana Law. Is our home a homestead or just a house. Well you all have seen these tax bills go up and then they get adjusted to some other stratosphere. The question asked of Jesus was even more perplexing. Should you pay tax to an occupying Roman Empire, or try to not support the oppression.

The Jewish Temple authorities did not allow payments to the Temple be paid with money from the Roman Empire because that money showed the emperor as a god. Using that tainted money would be blasphemy. So there were money changers at the temple who made a big profit changing Roman currency for temple currency. So those same temple authorities asked Jesus was it lawful to pay taxes. If Jesus said paying taxes was legal then they would say Jesus was willing to support the oppressors, but if he said that paying taxes was not legal then Jesus would be accused of treason, punishable by death. Jesus understood the impossible question with no good yes or no answer. Jesus got out of the no win question with a simple response, “Show me the money that you use to pay taxes.” And they showed him Roman currency, well then pay unto Caesar that which be longs to Caesar, and give to God that which belongs to God.

We do pay our taxes to the state, paying Caesar. We may not like all the tax forms, but we pay the tax. But how well do we pay to God that which is God’s. Do you tithe? That is the minimum. What about Thank Offerings? Thank offerings for family, friends, health, good fortune?

Oh you pay those not with National currency? Hummmmm.
Many years ago during the great Depression there was a wise and honorable man in Memphis, who was trying to raise funds for a church related college. A local well known bootlegger offered to give a great deal of money. Some other church folks learned of the offered gift and were outraged that their church and college would receive a gift of “tainted money.” The man who was receiving the gift said there is only one trouble with “Tainted Money”, is that it ain’t enough. The source of money is not the real question. Money is simply stored power. The question is how is the power of money used? We have been hearing a about huge sums of money being used by governments of the world. $700 Billion to be used quickly by the U. S. Treasury to restore confidence in the banking system and the stock market. Germany almost matched the amount, and Great Brittan, France, and lots of other nations are chipping in huge amounts of money. Will it do good?

The use of money, of any power, must always be looked at with the balance of Justice and Mercy. Just dumping money into the economy is not enough. Is the use of this huge wash of cash, unleashed power, balanced with Justice and Mercy. Will the rich just become even richer, or will those who have little gain some too. Will those people who were enticed to agree to a mortgage too large for them to pay have some mercy. Should we just say you made a bad deal and now you pay the consequences? That is Justice, but not Mercy. How do we work out a balance of Power, Justice and Mercy?

Jesus always reached out to the poor, powerless, sick and weary. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, care for the sick, imprisoned, homeless widows and orphans. Those are the admonitions of Jesus. What’s the problem with Tainted Money, it taint enough. The use of the money must be balanced with Justice and Mercy.

Thanks be to God

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