Some of you may be interested to know that I am now editing and blogging over at our church blog, Jesus & Taxes (<— click to visit!).
What’s in a name? In the name of this blog, a few things.
Jesus & Taxes.
There is a nod, to be sure, towards the well known quotation, “but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, we might add that Jesus is certain, and that because Jesus is certain the certainty of death is transformed. Death is no longer the enemy it once was, for Christ trampled down death by his death so that for those of us who are in Christ there is life in death. This is the mystery of Christ.
There is another reason for the name Jesus & Taxes that cuts closer to home, though. We are St. Matthew’s Riverdale. Now, Matthew, as perhaps you may know was not always a saint. Indeed, Matthew (or, Levi) used to be a tax-collector. That is, he collected taxes (and then some) for the Roman Empire. The scandal here is that Matthew was a Jew. A Jew, oppressing and taking money from his own people to give to the Romans, the very people that were occupying the land in which the Jews lived. He was working for the enemy. Yeah. So, maybe you can see why “tax-collectors” were lumped in with “sinners” and perhaps get a sense of why the religious leaders were so bothered when Jesus went to eat at this man’s home: “When the scribes and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?'” (Mark 2:16).
Now, Matthew left his tax-collecting ways to follow Jesus after Jesus had approached him at his place of work and called him to leave everything to go on an adventure (Mark 2:13-14). This is the man that our little church is named after and that’s fantastic because we’re trying to be like Matthew in our day-to-day lives right here in Riverdale.
Jesus & Taxes. Sometimes you have to leave what you’re familiar with to follow Jesus, like Matthew did. And that’s risky. I’ll leave you with these thoughts:
1) Jesus saw Matthew. In the same way, Jesus sees me and he sees you. We are in his view. Jesus was engaged in something very personal with Matthew to the point that he entered into his home and ate with him. In the same way, Jesus in interested in you and I personally (though not privately, that’s another blog post!). We try to live our lives together in Riverdale knowing that we are seen by Jesus so that we ourselves might see the risen and living Jesus here in our midst.
2) Jesus calls Matthew to follow him and, here’s the crazy part, Matthew did! The church is a community of followers, a nomadic community, a community on-the-move. The uncertainty involved in this can be uncomfortable and unsettling. But any adventure worth having involves risk. Following Jesus is risky, it may well involve leaving some things behind, but we can trust Jesus who is certain in the midst of uncertainty. We know that Jesus is on the move in Riverdale and he has called us to follow him right here in this place. We want to extend that invitation to you also! Would you join in with us as we follow in the way of Jesus?
3) Jesus freely associates with “sinners” to the point where he is numbered among them. Jesus didn’t come for those who are well, he came for the sick. Maybe you’ve experienced the weight of this in your own life. You know what it is like to experience brokenness and death. You’ve been hurt and you’ve hurt others. Jesus comes into the middle of this mess as the only one who can set things right. And he does. Our lives are messy and Jesus calls us to follow him before we have time to clean ourselves up. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, Jesus welcomes you and wants to dine with you. Will you come to the table?
There you have it, some of our hopes for this blog. We’ll be posting content here at least twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and we’d love for you to join in on the discussion!
Grace and peace.