Greetings on this beautiful October day!

Dear Congregation,

Greetings on this beautiful October day with its blue skies and cooler 80-degree temperatures that help us believe it really is fall! I know that the contrast between the green loveliness of our environment here in Palmetto Bay and what so many are experiencing in the bombed-out rubble of Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine is almost surreal to consider. The loss of life, injuries sustained by thousands of people, the plight of Israeli hostages, and lack of food, water, and fuel for the Palestinian people is heartbreaking. Please join me in praying for peace daily.

In the Gospel lesson for Sunday, Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus responds to the question from the religious authorities, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” Jesus replies, after asking to see a coin stamped with the image of the emperor’s head, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The very concrete image of that coin used as a visual by Jesus, reminded me of a poem I first read back in high school. It has stuck with me all these years. In “Barter” by Sara Teasdale, the poet compares the lovely things of life—the beauty of the natural world, music, dancing firelight, expressions of wonder on children’s faces, and human love—as worthy of spending the coin of our life on. Some of the characteristics of this life-coin are time, attention, appreciation, and the ability to realize what is important. All this beauty has been created by God for our enjoyment when we are wise enough to value and appreciate it.

I share “Barter” with you here and pray for the day when the coin of so many lives will be spent on loveliness instead of the things of war.

In the Peace and Love of Christ.

Pastor Candy

Barter By Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,

   All beautiful and splendid things,

Blue waves whitened on a cliff,

   Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children’s faces looking up

Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,

   Music like a curve of gold,

Scent of pine trees in the rain,

   Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit’s still delight,

Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,

   Buy it and never count the cost;

For one white singing hour of peace

   Count many a year of strife well lost,

And for a breath of ecstasy

Give all you have been, or could be.