Sunday, October 19, 2008

render unto caesar

“Whose picture is on the money?”
he asked, before there was paper money
peopled with presidents. I’ve got a Lincoln,
Hamilton, and a couple of Washingtons
bunched up in my pants pocket; wait –
lucky day: there’s a Jackson in there, too.
Not too many Benjamins around our house.

“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's,”
he said, centuries before rendering had
anything to do with cooking. Still, for
centuries chefs have rendered the fat from
ducks and pigs, cooking it long and slow until
the impurities burn away, and straining it to leave
a clear , pure fat that holds heat and flavor.

I can burn through a pocket full of money
as well as the next person, without even looking
at the pictures, turning presidents into
groceries, gasoline, and a coffee or two along
the way. The long, slow flame of intentionality
is harder to feed, and wait on. My purchasing
doesn’t necessarily point to purification.

“Render to God what is God's,” he said.
If the picture of a president points to possession,
the same is true of the image of the Creator.
I own nothing and owe everything; I’m not
the renderer, but the one being rendered: purified,
clarified, flavored (if you will), in a refiner’s fire,
down to the obvious inscription: “In God We Trust.”


1 comment:

Maureen said...

Ah, yes! Gold in the refiner's furnace is a biblical image that I admire but can't relate to personally. But your image of being rendered or clarified I understand. A long, slow, process, indeed...and the heat burns badly if you're not careful. God is a great and skillful chef.

The homily this morning spoke of us being marked by the cross of Christ as a coin is stamped with an image. A permanent impression, made by God to claim us in love.

Your words always remind me of God's creativity and compassion.
Thank you, Milton.
Peace and blessings to you.