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We started a new sermon series on Sunday. This series will cover our relationship to money.

I really like our congregation. We are loving. We extend ourselves to a diverse group. And we feel free to speak up during the worship. It isn’t chaotic; there’s good interaction.

Last night I was finishing up the taxes. I needed Traci’s help on a couple of areas. She sat watching me as I finished the remainder of the return. That was probably a mistake. In the upper right hand corner, the tax software I use displays the amount you owe or will receive based on your return at the current point.

The problem is that the figure changes dramatically as you go through the return. At one point Traci looked over and cried, “We owe HOW much?” I had to explain I hadn’t entered everything yet.

When the return was finished, we wound up getting money back. This is unusual for us. We pay estimated taxes every quarter, but we still end up paying in April. That’s one of the reasons I wait until near the end to do my taxes. (The other is that I tend to procrastinate, but that’s another post . . . for a later time . . . if I get to it.)

I thought about Traci’s reaction to our taxes and our relationship to God. Traci was upset by the ups and downs of our return. Sometimes we were getting a refund. Sometimes we were owing more. The numbers fluctuated wildly depending on where we were in the return. But it was never the final picture until all the questions answered and all the numbers entered.

Too often our relationship with God depends on our circumstances. We are happy when we perceive things to be going well; sad when they’re not. But it’s not the whole picture. We are still in the middle and not all the numbers have been entered yet. God calls us to steadfastness that doesn’t depend upon our circumstances.

“One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘ …you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…[and] you must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12)
“The great conversion [of our life is to] learn the courage to say, ‘I don’t have to ask permission from the world to live. I am not what other people say I am. I am not what I produce. I am not what I own. What I truly am is the chosen, beloved child of Divine God.'” – Henri Nouwen.