Matthew 22:15-22 (NRSV)
Verse 15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. Verse 16So 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. Verse 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" Verse 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Verse 19Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Verse 20Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" Verse 21They 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." Verse 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
The church body of which I am a part of is called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is not the Evangelical Lutheran Church “above” America or “of” America. It is a Church that is “in” this nation and “in” this world. We, who are part of this church body, live among all people and have the same privileges and responsibilities as everyone else, even though we are claimed by Christ in Baptism and claim Jesus Christ as our Lord. While trying to trap and trick Jesus, the Pharisees and Herodians wanted Jesus to take sides regarding a government many hated. The late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in one of his devotionals that it is right into the middle of our lives that Jesus comes to us and lives with us. It is in the thick of life and citizenship that we lift high the cross and proclaim the love of God for all people.
God of All Nations, make us good and responsible citizens, while anchoring us in your mercy. In Jesus Name. Amen.