I bought my copy of Turbo Tax for 2012 this week.  It’s time to get prepared for Tax Day.  Gather up all the income paperwork, W-2, 1099’s, etc.  Collect all the interest statements; what a laugh.  Compile the deduction receipts, medical, mortgage, higher education, etc.  Sharpen pencils, pull out the calculator and check its batteries.  There’s so much to do to prepare for a single day in April.

There is another day for which we are to prepare.  This year it is at the end of March—Easter Sunday.  On February 13, 2013 we start the preparation for Easter with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  During Lent we are to spend our time in self-examination.  Seriously examine how well we have been living up to the claimed title of Christian.  Do we pray enough?  DO we really love our neighbor?  Do we feed, clothe, visit, and extend fellowship to the people on the edges of our society as Jesus did?

On Ash Wednesday, many people give up something they enjoy (do not confuse Lenten sacrifice as another shot at meeting your New Year’s resolutions) and devoting the resources or time spent in that enjoyable activity in more closely following the Way of Christ.  People donate to those in need, give time to help at food pantries or shelters, increase the time they spend in prayer and the study of the Bible.  Any or all of these can become tools in our preparation.

Easter is often portrayed as the end reward of our faith, but Jesus didn’t teach his disciples to do things so that they could get into Heaven; rather, Jesus taught them to act as though the Kingdom of God was NOW in the world.  Behave as if this were the Heavenly Realm on earth.  Our faith is not to be in a future reward but to prepare us for living in the present Kingdom of God that is all around us.  He taught that we were to be ambassadors for the rule of God now.  Love God with all that you are and love others as we love our selves!

In an effort to trick Jesus, he was asked if the people in Israel should pay taxes to Caesar.  He told them to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.  Thinking of all the time and work put in to preparing your taxes to meet the April 15 deadline, how does that time and energy compare with all that you do in meeting the requirement to return to God what has always belonged to God?

Shalom, Darrell