simply Christmas coverSATURDAY

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.
Psalm 21:13
Where did you see God this week?
What did you learn about hope this week?
How did you practice being a light of hope this week?

Light the Advent Candle    Gospel Reading: Matt. 22:15-22

In our country, the holiday season is kicked off by Black Friday consumeristic deals, and it continues throughout the season.  There are certain practices that are typical of our society — we use Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments to decorate our homes. We bake certain foods and we do different activities. We shop more than we normally would, and we sing songs that are only typical of this time of year.

Today’s gospel passage talks about a similar thing in the culture of Jesus’ day.  During Jesus’ life, the Roman government was occupying the land, and all the Jewish citizens were required to pay certain taxes to Caesar, even though most of the Jews only begrudgingly did so, because as God’s chosen people it seemed to them that they shouldn’t have to serve another ruler who did not serve God.  So the religious leaders are trying to trap Jesus, asking him a trick question about what people of the day should do about paying Roman taxes.

Jesus is not trapped by this question, though, because he distinguishes between cultural customs and God’s customs.  He says to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.  Caesar was the determiner of the culture of the day, but God is the determiner and giver of life.

In this season, as we engage in our culture, take the time and reflection to make sure you’re only giving the culture what belongs to it, but make sure that your heart and mind remain with the God they belong to.  It’s neither good nor bad to engage in the gift giving and the decorating, but this season of Advent is also the time to give to God what belongs to God.

What have you given yourself to this week?

Lord Jesus, the Advent candle burns with hope. Its faint glow serves to remind us that we share the hope the prophets held – that you will return in time. We long for the day your light will pierce the darkness.1


1)Adapted from Paul Sheneman, Illuminate: an Advent Experience. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill of Kansas City, 2011. Print.