As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” Matthew 17:22-27
I have been traveling since last week and have just returned from the 40th Convocation of the Church in Navajoland. The delays getting home were annoying and I am a day late being home. The joy of that occasion cannot be shattered by the difficulties in traveling. God has blessed the work of the church and the leadership. Travel is a small price to pay to celebrate with these unique people of God. Despite the challenges and hardships they have faced, they are loving, compassionate people, raising up new leaders and new hopes for the future. The children are free to hope in what is to come.
Jesus is challenged again by the religious leadership. How he behaves does not match with religious policy and procedure. Jesus came for a very different purpose - to bring God's love to those cast aside and neglected. Some wanted to point our his difference as failings. And yet God blessed the people by another sign - providing the needed money from the strangest place. God delights in providing what we need, and delights when we honor the outcast and the different among us.
As this day comes to a close, I thank God for the joy of being home and returning from a place of such joy and blessing. May we find God's delight as we journey to new places, among new people and in places of difference.