Daily Devotions

It Is Tax Day, Yea!

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Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:7)

Well, if it isn’t another Tax Day. Yuck! It is as American as apple pie and baseball to complain about taxes. While I hate taxes as much as anyone else, taxes remain a blessing. Even if Bostonians didn’t think so, as they dumped their tea in the harbor. Without taxation, there would be no roadways, (although, with all the potholes this may not be the best example). Taxation helps care for the elderly and those with special challenges. It provides our protection for our municipalities, for our states, for our national and global security.

As an American, I’ve tried to view paying my taxes as a patriotic duty. As a Christian, I’ve tried to view my taxes as another form of spiritual giving. Taxation provides care in so many ways, from providing environmental accountability, to global support for those in war-torn countries. Yes, there is corruption. When I was young, I regularly heard adults talking about the Pentagon spending $5,000 on a toilet seat. I still wonder if this was nothing more than an urban myth. Yet, amidst our sinful, human world there will always be corruption, but taxation’s benefits far out way its concerns.

For me, the concern is justice. In our contemporary society, taxation is often unfairly laid at the feet of those with less power. The middle classes are often responsible for more than their share, while the wealthiest of our citizens have been given any number of ways of avoiding vast amount of taxable dollars. I remember hearing the story of the Johnson family, of the Johnson & Johnson corporation. A grandson developed a sense of justice and challenged the family, with the family accountant present. The family tried to defend the way their family’s money was being manipulated to avoid as much tax as possible. While the family could argue their actions were legal, they failed in their attempt to defend the ethics of their decisions.

On this Tax Day, celebrate the good being used by your patriotic obligation. Celebrate your taxes as a gift in God’s name, for the benefit of all. Then, pray for justice. Taxation is an ancient practice that is controversial, even in the Bible. Corruption has been a legitimate complaint as long as we’ve had taxation. Pray that our great nation can strive to bring justice and fairness to our taxation, so all classes of people, including the one percent, will provide their fair share. Finally, pray that our tax system will not produce waste, but use our taxes with wisdom so all may benefit, and our nation and world can become stronger which can bring lasting peace and security for all people.

Home Economics Parenting Eggs

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God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

It seems hard to believe, but this month is the sixth anniversary of my mother’s death. My mother was a Home Economics teacher. She retired in 2000. She retired before parenting classes had computerized babies. My mom’s kids were required to carry eggs around as their pretend infants. I got such a kick out of the kids bringing their eggs to work or even basketball practice. The kids were always thrilled to celebrate the end of the week, and the end of the egg parenthood. On that Friday, they spent their class period talking about how demanding it was to care for something so fragile. The eggs crack so easily.

I was drawn to an article with eggs on the cover, and the title, “To Everyone Who’s Just Barely Holding It Together.” Hanna Brooks Olsen writes, “I remember a lot of days feeling like an egg; an intact shell that looked smooth and clean, with an inside that was messy and maybe even rotten. You’d have to break it to find out, I guess, but it never quite broke. A thin membrane was all that was keeping it together.” Hanna isn’t alone in experiencing these feelings. Most of us have felt the type of fragility Hanna describes.

Hanna Brooks Olsen continues, “In spite of whatever it is that keeps picking, picking, picking little pieces of your shell away, you still manage to make it to school or work, or to pick up the kids, or to go to the store, or hell, to walk the dog. And for that, I want to say: Good job.” In this era of Facebook, everyone else looks like they have it all together. It often appears that we are the only ones who are fragile, and in fear of cracking. Just getting through the day can be almost impossible. Celebrate a tough day survived.

As people of faith, we are blessed with the reality that we do not go it alone in this world. Yes, we have our church family, but we have even more on our side. You have a pastor, or pastors, who can step in and listen, pray, and provide other opportunities for support. This is great, but there is even more support. You are not alone because you have the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life, every minute of every day. Yes, each one of us is fragile and capable of cracking. If too many challenges, like Job, come crashing down, we are all capable of cracking. But with the blessed care of God’s Spirit, we are capable of enduring, receiving support, and the wisdom of making decisions that will bring us through to a renewed hope and joy. Don’t give up. While we are capable of breaking, the Spirit can protect us and make us strong. Invite the Holy Spirit into your fragile places, and feel the Spirit fill in the cracks, making us stronger than ever before.

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