1 So I got a birthday card from my parents. Once upon a Time, a very special person was born, who was des ned to change the world. Calm down. It s not you, it s Jesus I think he would want you to have a happy birthday. TFE Story- Don t be funny Don t be funn y, is what he said to me or at least what I believe he was saying. We were discussing m y past sermon, at my TFE church in Toronto. He also corrected how I pronounced the w ord harbinger... told me it could only be pr onounced harbing er. Now as many will know, I am open t o correc ng my spelling but it s hard to have your pronuncia on cri qued. He said I shouldn t try to be funny when I was preaching, he said if I am t o be a reverent, I need to be reverent. He told me that morning as well, that when I graduate. He could only see m e as being an associate pastor, someone who g ets in on the lowest rung of minis try, youth minister he said and these ar e all pre y harsh things... But, he was right... doing worry, this is not me resigning. I am saying from his perspec ve, for the type of minis ter that he wanted, He was right. If the church was filled with people jus t like him, I was not the minis ter for them. Luckily, there are quirkier churches out there. God in a Box And that is the interes ng thing about chur ch, and God as w ell, luckily, and this is a tr endier way to say it then I would like, but God isn t in the box. We should never say, God doesn t w ork through this, or God isn t in this place, or God isn t e xpressed this way. Now, I say that but I don t mean God is sin, or God w orks through lies, I mean through any truth. Wha t s true is wha t Gods is. Where there is good, that is where God is. God can work through humour, just as God works through serious and though ul ministers and we need both. Just like God isn t only in the bible, or in these walls, or in the w alls of churches. God works through and is mix ed into everything. God is all ed up in everything. That same pu ng of God in to a box isn t just done by older people as w ell, younger people do it too. A congrega on member poin ted out to me last week that I seem to always have a problem with old 75 y ear old ladies, one hit me in the f ace with her c ar door, one wanted to have 34 item in the grocery store in the express lane, one olde r gentlemen wanted to say I couldn t be funny when I preach... but trust me, it s not inten onal, but it was a good catch by her because I seem t o always tell stories that way. And so I do ha ve storeys of younger folks ac ng odd, an example, at Knox collage, there was a youth women who w as just adamantly against celebra ng anything regarding our country in worship. She told me, Flag Day, reference day, have no place in the chur ch. God is for everyone she said, so wh y do we celebrate a group of people? A c ountry, a flag.
2 And hey, immigra on and the c oming together of people ha ve been in the ne ws lately, and what we do cross culturally. When God sa ys, through Jesus, that God loves everyone, and as our w orld moves towards globaliza on, whets the use in celebra ng one country, one flag. What s the point? We are all from everywhere anyway, I myself am Irish, Sco sh, part Jewish, which I know is strange, and Dutch and that to speak of nothing about the div ersity here in this room. And we can look no further than any countries who claim to be Chris an and how much strife exists because of that, the mixing of chur ch and state can be destruc ve absolutely, so we shouldn t do it. And she would quote scripture to me to tell me about ho w Jesus so o en spoke out against the state. And the scrip ture she would use was the one w e are going to read this morning. Its Ma hew 22:15-22 And here it is, The Question about Paying Taxes Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodias, saying, Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and 17 show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, 18 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? 19 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 22 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. Now I know tax seasons coming up, and I will tell you, as someone who tried it, you can t use this passage to get out of paying taxes. But Jesus says doesn t work with the government when you have taxes to pay. Now, it seem like my friend from Knox would have a pre y great argument from this scrip ture. Jesus even splits those tw o things up. What is owed to Censor? And what is owed to God? Those are two separate concepts. Our bible splits them up in this passag e, as well as many others. We have Country over here and God o ver here. And I never said this to her because honestly felt like it might have been a losing ba le, but, this is a pre y common outlook of y oung Chris ans, that God and country don t mix. That God is an - government, where as with those who t end to be older, God is pro- country. But wait... isn t tha t then doing the same t hing that the youth have always accused the older of doing, pu ng God in a bo x. Wasn t she saying, hey, God can t work through patrio sm or lo ve of one s country, just like God can t work though a minis ter who is funny? You see, no ma er what age, we all limit God; we just tend to change how we do it based upon us.
3 An example that may hit a li le closer t o home, when I say God isn t trapped in the bible, tha t doesn t mean God doesn t speak thr ough the bible as well. When we say God is everywhere that also means God is here. It s like this past super bowl Sunday when a few of the people sc ored touchdowns, and they pointed to the sky, I just wish one of them w ould run into the end zone and go like this... because god is everywhere. If we are going to claim God c an work in our ways, we have to admit God c an work in other ways to, or we limit God. But there is one big pr oblem, because what I am saying here may sound good, it makes sense to say God works everywhere but how do we explain the scrip ture? What is going on here? Jesus, as m y female Knox friend points out, even says censor, and God are separate. My friend from Knox s ll has the scripture on her side... or she w ould, if that was what was going on because it s not as it seems. Jesus actually doesn t break up spheres of influence, or split anything. God s ll is everywhere and everything is under God. Because what we have in the scripture is Jesus giving a v ery clever answer to these peo ple who are trying to trick him trying to get him in trouble for not paying taxes? Trying to trip him up, and her e I will show you how. Coin illustra on Image So what Jesus has done, is actually point out that even censor is owned by God, because even the image on the coin is in the imag e of God. There are no two spheres when it comes to God; it s all ed up under God. And so to for our flag, that we celebrate today, In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson se led the debate, and made the lea f our flag and he was made in God s image just like we are and God can work through anything on this plane t. You see, and I am f airly certain this is almos t a Canadian piece of theology but God doesn t work like a mel ng pot country, God is works like mosaic, a li le bit lik e Canada. And if your grade 10 civics class is a li er father away then mine, a mel ng pot is a c ountry that says once you come here, you are from this country and you need to forget all your culture from where you came from, they are, and I am not dispar aging them, like the USA. But Canada, is a mosaic, wher e we say, if you come here, keep your culture, and our country will look mul f aceted, like a mosaic. And if going to look at this scripture, where Jesus says, by the way all of this is under God, whatever ruler you are, even censor, even Trump, even Trudeau, because they are all made in the imag e of God, then if you believe that God isn t Bo xed, then you need to admit that God isn t a mel ng pot God, God is the God of the mosaic acr oss history and crea on. This is one of the reasons why I never understood, and almos t felt like it was an Canadian, when I heard about non-denomina on churches and yes I know, no denomina ons in heaven; I have a hard me believing that when I get to the gates, there will be a Presbyterian door, and an angelskin. One very boring, one less so but they, non- denomina onal, community churches, also seemed lik e the mel ng pots of Chris anity, your here your Chris an, this is what ma ers.
4 But a more Canadian way of thinking about it, and also I f eel, a more scriptural way, is to not be nondenomina onal, but, mul -denomina onal and... I ha te to break this to you, Saint Lawrence is an example of tha t. I know we are s ll a Presbyterian church, trust me, I am not sa ying anything too crazy, but I also kno w, that people here haven t been Presbyterian there whole life, we have angelicas, Catholics... I myself worked in a united church and that awesome. We are a bit mosaic our selves at this church. One migh t say quirky. And the reason why I preach this messag e, and why it makes sense for flag day is because in this w orld of difference, we can understand our faith in those tw o different ways, we can see others and say they aren t welcome, for whatever reason, even though it w ould seem like our scripture only says one way really works and when I look a t our flag, and think abo ut what Canada means, I think back t o what we need to give to God, and tha t is respect and love for all that is Gods. And also, this message was inspired by a guy who w as my friend at Knox, he would o en sit to my le as the young lady I spok e of previously would tell me all about ho w she though t remembrance day was useless in the chur ch, and how flag day was also useless, and ho w she disliked the mixin g of the army, and country and the chur ch. And this man was an army Chaplin, he had lost friends in peace keeping missions in the 90s, and he w as in the army because of his faith. He felt called there, and so you can imagine ho w he who sat on my le, at Knox collage in the loung e, got along with the w omen on the right. And I would ask him, a er she had quot ed her scripture at me, the one w e read today, about what he thought about it... and he didn t r eally have an answer, all he could say to me was, I believe in God, I believe God called me to the army, and my faith func ons tha t way. It s all ed up... he said, it s all ed up. And aren t we all that way, Tom Medland, big scooter, but also big Chris an, and this morning w e see those two func oning t ogether, they are all ed up. Me, I like to tell jokes, but I am also a minis ter, humour and the jo y it brings to people is a big part of my faith that is all ed up. And, each one of us, w e could have so many other things, Music, w ood working, reading, our jobs anything really. They can be a part of our f aith, if we let them, because they are already all ed up with God anyway. Even our country and our flag, it s all ed up with God s work. It makes no sense t o separate the two. Even when the y tried to trick Jesus, he showed them why even censor is under God, they just didn t pick up on it. And so, with this in mind, I am going to give a li le bit of home work, I am going away for two weeks because of my honeymoon, and what would be good is to do what the people trying to trick Jesus didn t do, which is pick up on it. Look ar ound your life, and look a t the ac ons you take, look at the things y ou love, those things which ar e true, and realize that those are sacred, those are all ed up with God. You might be surprised wher e you find God, and where you find God s image. To God be all glor y honour and pr aise