On our first medical mission trip to China and Tibet one of the team members purchased two terracotta statues of the Qin Dynasty ruler Shihuangdi and had them shipped back to Fresno. They arrived in excellent shape and were placed in our meditation garden in front of the church. They have stood there for eleven years mostly unmolested. There have been cracks and some abuse but they have continued their watch much like those first soldiers day and night year after year.
Then one day I went out to the garden not paying much attention. When I realized something was missing. It was the emperor’s head. It had been knocked, chipped, levered, I’m not sure the method used, but the head was gone. I looked in the fountain, in the flower beds, along the path but the result was the same. We had a ruler with no head.
Read with me from the Gospel according to Mark 12:14-17, “They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity…Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?’…But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s, they replied. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.'”
Dear God, we know this world is not our home. That the rulers of this world are often merely terracotta. They try to look good but are merely plaster. They make laws that do not lift people up. Nations go to war out of greed. So…what is the answer? We must be a changed people, we must ask God to give our leaders the heads of government wisdom, ask that they think not merely for their own agendas but look to raise a nation up. But…this is not always possible so we pray that you will stamp your image on our lives. You will guide us by your wisdom, by your light so we might bring hope to the hopeless, light to the darkness. Today we give our hearts, our souls our minds(heads) to you. Amen.