by Rick Diamond

The question of what money means is huge. Our culture is run by money. Or, rather, our culture sees money as the thing that runs everything.

But Sunday we talked about the larger issue, in not only our culture but in every culture, which is: What drives everything? Every culture, family, society, and nation has ideas and values that drive it. Those ideas inform everything: how to raise children; what work means; what God or gods are; what is good; what is necessary for life to be meaningful. Every culture has its own set of these. Some are stated openly; some are unstated but understood.

These idea systems and rules are taught and modeled. If the culture's members agree with these ideas and obey these rules, the members are rewarded; if they don't, they're punished. It doesn't take long for people to learn how it wo

rks. Teachers, parents, authority figures, politicians, kings and queens and nobles, armies, priests and preachers, salespersons and communications -- all teach and reinforce the rules.

When children become part of these systems, it's hard for the children, once they grow up, to see that these ideas and rules aren't absolute, that the ideas and rules are specific to the culture or family or nation they're part of. (Some cultures don't want their members to question the ideas and rules; those cultures make it not only harder to see the ideas with perspective; they punish those who ask questions.)

So, what if a system is wrong? Or flawed? Or somehow unhealthy?

Jesus came into his system and raised questions about it. There were things in the system that needed to be seen differently. Jesus proposed a way to see the world that was based on plenty, on God's being provider and sustainer. That there was nothing to fear. He taught and modeled and enacted a world of plenty, a world worth trusting.

We Americans live in a culture which reinforces outer lives based on scarcity. Not enough love, enough self-worth, enough possessions, enough money, enough time. It is in everything we do and think and work for. And money is a big part of that system. Money is its measure, its outward manifestation.

Jesus said, "Give to the world what belongs to the world; give to God what belongs to God." He was calling the question. Insisting on a reality check. Calling us to look hard at what we value. It's not easy. But what if we let our time, and our money, and our resources, belong to God? It might take a huge shift -- not in money-management, but in whether we see scarcity or plenty.

Listen to the Service

Today's Program

Gathering Our Spirit to God’s Spirit 

The yarn extravaganza continues. Huge monopoly money dollar bills are on every chair, along with boxes of markers scattered around the room.
  • “Money” by Pink Floyd (Strings Attached version) (iPod) plays 
  • A Journeyer steps up to light the lamp and another rings the bell
  • David welcomes folks and has us breathe… introduces our Lenten series

Worshiping with Our Children

  • A Journeyer leads our children in talking about how the rules of the playground are usually helpful, but it still is always right to treat people with love and kindness, even when nobody else does or notices that you do

From Our Spirit to God’s Spirit

  • Leslie makes announcements
  • A Journeyer reads 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Dave Madden reads excerpts from Atlas Shrugged
  • David explains to the community about writing on the dollar bills in their chairs
  • Beth Wood sings two songs from her new album, "Beachcomber's Daughter"
  • A Journeyer reads Matthew 6:19-21 and then leads an offertory prayer

Giving -- To Help God Do God’s Work in This World  

  • Beth Wood sings two more songs as the ushers pass and collect the offertory baskets and bring them to the cross, but then lay them in the yarn web

Telling The Story and Our Story

  • A Journeyer reads Mark 12:13-17
  • Rick talks 
  • Folks attach their symbolic money somewhere on the yarn web above the congregation

We Go Out to Serve with Mercy and Grace

  • David dismisses
  • “Money” plays again as folks leave