Sales tax and Easter sermons

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My ponderings this week begin with the public hearing held Tuesday night at City Hall. It looks like the City Council may benefit from the mistake made last fall that led to the nullification of the senior service sales tax. We can argue if they should, but it looks like they will – potentially at least.

After having its own sales tax soundly defeated last fall, they are going to give it another go to get more cash for the coffers. Look for a half-cent sales tax proposal to reach the August ballot with 1/8 cent going to senior services and the rest to the City, probably for more or less defined storm water type projects and purchases. We have to wait until Tuesday to see how the proposed ordinance is worded, assuming the Council takes the question up. They have until the end of May to get it on the ballot.

Some at the meeting wanted a 50/50 split on the tax. Others didn’t seem to mind that it would be 1/8-3/8. Many are skeptical whether any sales tax connected to the City will pass.

I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I’ll let you know when I decide. I’m still in favor of a half-cent sales tax for senior services standing alone on the ballot. That is not going to happen.

I know this – the City has no chance of passing a tax without a firm partnership with the senior citizens. Our headline the other day in the DDD alluded to a tentative partnership. I think that’s what we have now. It might firm up as we go along. As I told one councilman a couple of weeks ago, the City Council needs the seniors a lot more than the seniors need them. They’ve already proved they can pass a sales tax in spite of the naysayers and odds against them.

Now to my Easter pondering. Many but I’m sure not all of our readers know I spent many years as a pastor. These days my life is so busy that I don’t miss pastoring churches 51 weeks a year, but I do miss it on Easter week -- which was my favorite for obvious reasons. Everybody loves Christmas, but without Easter, Christmas is meaningless. Without an empty tomb all we have is a little baby in a cradle. That’s nice; little babies are cute, but they grow up, grow old, die, and that’s pretty much it. With an empty tomb, we have hope – today, tomorrow, and forever.

I digressed with a little theology. Back to my point – Pastors actually have a hard time at Easter. You wouldn’t think so, but they do. The problem is how to tell the same story, the story of the Resurrection, which everyone assumes they will hear when they head to church Easter Sunday, in a way that will catch attention.

All four Gospels tell the story, of course, and if you’ve been to church on many Easters, you’ve heard it from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

So, I used to try to find Easter texts outside the Gospels to grab a little more attention. A good one is Acts 17:32-34 from the account of Paul’s sermon at Athens -- “When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.’ At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.”

The responses to the resurrection are the same today as then. Some mock it, believing it is ridiculous that anyone could believe that a dead human being can be alive again. Others are intrigued. These folks may be persuaded at some point of the reality of the Resurrection. They are open minded to the possibility at least.

Thankfully, some believe. There are just a few of those in Athens, but those were the folks Paul was interested in anyway. He’d probably say, “If there were just one, my trip to Athens was worth it.”

For any pastor friend reading this, go ahead and take the outline – you might use it sometime, and you won’t have to give me credit. I probably got it from somebody else anyway. After all, doesn’t the Good Book say there’s nothing new under the sun?

Happy Easter!

Until next week . . .

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