Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

The Rendered

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

November 10:

Call:    Stewardship Moment
Text:    Luke 20: 20-26
Prophet: Haggai 2: 4-5

            The Rendered

I received my first Bible when I was about nine or ten.
   That was in the mid fifties

It was a "Revised Standard Version."
   I used it in the sixties at youth group
   And when I gave my first Sunday Morning sermon
      At the Baldwinsville MC (not yet United)
      As a senior in high school on children's day

Ironically, one of the worshippers that day most likely would have been a girl by whose name then was Wendy Hudson
   She was in the class behind mine
   She later lived in the very house in which I now live
      Because she married Gary Rhodehamel
   Too, she was my first DS upon in the North Country

I used that Bible in the early 1970s
   When the pastor was away & I preached at Oneida 1st UMC
      Where I worshipped for nearly a quarter century
         Before accepting the call to the pulpit.

But by the late 1980s or early 1990s
that Bible began to fall apart
And so I purchased a new one
   This one was an NRSV which had in the meantime replaced the RSV
That Bible, despite twice (Yes, twice!) being returned to me
   After falling off the top of my car (where I had put it while opening the door)
   Accompanied me into the ministry in Jordanville in 1995
   Traveled with me to Massena in 2002
      Where it too began to fall apart.

And so, after eight and a half years in the ministry,
Marge bought this one   [hold it up]   also NRSV
And gave it to me for Christmas of 2003.

I have used it every service for what is now almost ten years
   But sadly, I noticed the other night
   That it is now falling apart between the last page of Luke
      And the first page of John.

And so this year my Christmas list will be topped by a request
   For a new, large print NRSV Bible.

I have several other Bibles at home or in my office
   But there is only one non NRSV Bible (or its predecessor) that I have used while leading worship

And that is this one.   [hold up KJV]

This one is a King James Version
   My older children, Justin and Melanie gave it to me
      On Father's Day, 1988.

You will notice that it is in much better condition than my NRSV
   Despite being 15 ½ years older.

That is because I only use it for three scriptures:
The 23rd psalm, The telling of the Christmas story in Luke 2
- and this morning's text:    Luke 20: 20-26
Because the KJV 23rd psalm is at page 137 of the hymnal
   I don't need this Bible for it during worship.

I read Luke 2 from it every year on Christmas Eve
   And about once every three years I use it for the story of Jesus being asked whether it is legal to pay taxes to the emperor.

I have a strong preference for the NRSV
   I think it is the better translation

BUT
   These three passages never sound right
in any thing but the KJV.

And that is especially true of this story.
Actually that is the case because of one word:  "render."

   The NRSV    uses the word "give"
   The CEV     uses the word "give"
   The NIV     uses the word "give"
   The Message uses the word "give"

But I learned this story with the word "render"
And it doesn't sound right without it
   Even though "render" means "give" or "provide"

I believe that the first time I ever heard the word "render"
   Was when - years ago - I first heard this story.
   And to be honest,    initially, I wondered what it meant
Perhaps it was because of that wonder that it stuck so deeply,
that the word "give" even today seems insufficient.

The word "render" has a tone of official formality
After all, judges and juries render verdicts
They don't just give them
And so, despite my many years with judges and juries,
       for me, the word "render" will always bring to mind images of
      Jesus,
a coin,
and some spies looking to trap him.

Thus, this morning,
As I share with you Luke 20: 20-26
I do so from my King James Version of our scriptures. [read]

The scribes and chief priests realized
that a parable Jesus had told about wicked tenants
   was deliberately about them.
They were upset and they sent spies to trick and trap Jesus.

These spies asked a question trying to force Jesus to say either:
   That paying taxes to Caesar was illegal
      In which case certain Jewish elements would be happy
      But the Romans would not
            OR
   That paying taxes to Caesar was legal
      In which case the Romans would be pleased
      But those Jewish elements would not.

The intention was to trap this man from Nazareth
   In a lose - lose situation
   Where    whatever he said  would get someone upset.

But Jesus' answer
   Showed respect for the legitimacy of the Romans
      The coinage came from Rome - render it to Caesar
      But other things came from God - render them to God.

And here I ask you to take note that the message title
   is    "The rendered"    NOT      "The renderers"
For in order for us as renderers to apply Jesus' answer
We first have to come to an understanding
   Of what it is that we are to render to God

From my reading of the scriptures
From my observing Christians who have set examples for me
From my own experiences with God
   I believe that what we render to God
      Is our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength
      Our obedience and greatest loyalty.

Caesar and Caesar's taxes are realities of life
   Like food, clothing, and shelter
We recognize them and we deal with them

But   as to       our lives and how we lead them
         Our gifts and how we use them
Our neighbors and how we treat them
      and   our moral and ethical decisions
            and how we make them
we render those to God.

Life is not always simple

Thus rendering those things to God
means that there will be times when we have to make choices

Choices between what our friends want and expect us to do
      And what God wants and expects us to do
Choices between what our families want and expect us to do
      And what God wants and expects us to do
Choices between what society wants and expects us to do
      And what God wants and expects us to do
Choices between what our country wants and expects us to do
      And what God wants and expects us to do
And, of course, there will be times when we have to make choices
   between what we want to do
   And what God wants and expects us to do

As we make those choices we understand through Jesus the Christ
   What God wants is love and justice
      The prophets tell us that
      The words of Jesus tell us that
      The actions of Jesus tell us that

But too often our culture teaches us
   That love is only for those who are most like us
      Despite Jesus' teachings that it is for all our neighbors
         Even our enemies.

Too often our culture teaches us
   That justice is punishment - even revenge
      Despite Jesus' teachings that it is fairness to others
         Particularly the poor
   And   Despite Jesus' teachings us that it is also
about forgiveness and mercy.

Too often our culture teaches us
   That we should be selfish and self centered
Despite Jesus' teachings on sacrifice, forgiveness, and generosity

Restating Jesus' answer to the question designed to trap him
   Is pretty easy:   "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's
            And unto God what is God's

But rendering to God what is God's requires
Not only choices, but changes
And this is the case, no matter what translation we use.