Archive for September, 2013
1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” [NRSV]
The shrewd manager takes justice into his own hands.
It is most likely the custom that those who would lend to the poor would also be those who took advantage of the poor. Charting higher interest rates to those at greater risk.
Intuitively it is a practice that never makes sense. If lenders and retailers who extend credit want to charge those who have the least to spend the highest rate, it seems to be a set up for failure and a greater oppression than not extended credit in the first place.
In the recent years of banking giving loans to those who would not qualify and investment firms reselling debt accounts to the highest bidder, so collection agencies can profit even further from oppressing the poor. Where is the justice in this practice?
Traditionally the parable has been only about the juggling of the accounting without regard to why the bills were so high in the first place.
If you drive around a large city, you will find the the gas prices higher in the poorest communities. You will find grocery stores higher priced with lower quality good near communities where neighbors have no other transportation and only have the option to walk to the closest store. In this text the owner has charged twenty or thirty percent more than the usual rate.
So the manager is trying to show some justice in the situation, hoping that when he is laid off the poor would look kindly and graciously at them.
Think of it, if you were about to loose your job from a tyrant of an employer and you could bring some justice in the community, playing the part of Robin Hood and his merry followers. Would you want to steal from the king to win the hears of the common folk?
So much political rhetoric is preached everyday about the evil of the wealthy in our country and how they should be made to pay their share and the share of the poor. It’s just not a good system of economics.
The parable is about relationship.
The warning is to guard from making friends by buying their relationship.
As a church we want to extend radical hospitality, but we don’t want people to come because they can take advantage of our generosity.
As Christians we want people to like us but at times we are indeed sheep sent out among wolves. Choose your relationship not by what you get out, rather choose by God’s guidance.
We want our children and grandchildren to have lots of friends and be well liked at school, but not because of fashions, toys and gadgets. We want them to friends of good character.
This is the point of Jesus’ parable. Be of God character and not the world’s. Even it seems reasonable from the world’s standards, this is not our measuring stick.
Secondly the parable is about what we manage compared to what we allow God to manage in our lives.
The shrewd manager takes care of the situation himself. He has a plan to take care of himself and to put the owner in his or her place and come out smelling like a rose for caring for the poor and oppressed.
Helping the poor is great.
Seeking justice is wonderful.
Being a responsible worker and good manager are great attributes.
Look instead at the motives, agendas and flawed reasons behind our self-preservation.
God promises to provide, guide and fill our lives, asking us to receive, follow and trust God in all times.
Bottom line: Serve God and not ourselves.
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [NRSV]
What boy have ten baseball cards looses his 1915 Cracker Jack Honus Wagner card, does not search his house and bed room until he finds it and when it does find it her posts on Facebook to tell all his friends. And all his friends “Like” and comment how happy they are that he found it.
What dog breeder, who leaving ninety-nine dogs in the pen to go looking for the one who climbed under the fence and ran away. And when the breeder finds the pup, the breeder puts dog on his shoulder and carries it home with joy and celebration.
What girl having broken her grandmother’s string of pearls in her room would not sweep and vacuum up her carpet looking through the lint and trash until she finds every last one. And when she finds them all goes and tells the good news that what was lost has been found.
What stockbroker who lost their client one million dollars with a bad decision does not research and how to use the remaining 99 million to make back the one that that was lost. And when he does he is no longer afraid to call the client, but shares the good news that their account broken even that day.
What teacher, who leaving the classroom unsupervised to take the one troubled student to the school counselor comes back to the classroom and finds the students and classroom in order and on-task. That teacher rejoices and calls off the pop quiz and joy fills the class.
What politician, who leaving the 99 political party members that are in their back pocket, goes across the isles to do the right thing for the country even though the 99 are mad, threatening and hurt that he bailed on them. And all the people who elected the officials rejoiced that the people were represented over the politician’s party and popularity.
What man, having ten children, leaves at home and at work the nine who are faithful and responsible and goes into the far country to find the one that has run away. And when the father and child return that are all glad to be home together.
What mechanic, having taken apart the engine of a prized race car for cleaning and finds one custom forged bolt has been lost, does not dredge the oil pan and search the shop until he finds the part and completes the rebuild. Does he not rejoice with the others in the shop that he found the part?
What faithful church member, who having been concerned about the budget, the rules administrative council and the proper reverence of the sanctuary does not leave the guidelines behind when the needs of school children who are hunger or without warm coats; or forgets the limits of the budget and gives to send missionaries and mission teams around the world, and opens the doors of the church to show the lost that we care about them more than we care about our own. Who rejoices then?
It’s the same story through out. The parable continues to point us to see when Jesus rejoices… When the found are no longer lost and the lost are completely found.
25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
The Cost of Discipleship: Hate your family and carry your cross. How many of you want to sign up?
- The Cost of Discipleship: A building project that needs to be completed
- The Cost of Discipleship: A Battle as the underdog, who had the options for seeking peace.
- The Cost of Discipleship: Give away all your possessions. Who is left to follow?
Why so strict and exclusive?
Disciples redefined: Family comes second to Jesus. Still a hard saying but think of the covenant faith in the context of Jesus’s day: In his context: People would say, we are part of Aarons’ family, we are covered, we have connections.
Jesus redefines family as those who love God as our core family rather than automatically our biological family. (Be clear: I’m not saying that every thing under the umbrella of church should come first, but our relationship to God supersedes all others.
If that is not hard enough, Jesus redefines our self-worth. God does not measure us with a profit and loss statement. It is not about our wealth or debt. It is not about our good works or our sins.
Jesus calls into question first the relationships and then the things that we confuse our: 1 confidence and trust, 2 our value and worth, and 3 who’s work drives our lives.
Jesus speaks of carrying ‘the’ cross. The cross is the sign of ultimate self-less gift of placing all else down and picking up the very thing God calls us to do.
Often we define my cross is different from your cross. The catch is that the cross is neither mine nor your cross. It is God’s work that we carry.
- Have you ever wondered if we took these words literally that the church would not be struggling for members but would the greatest force for good?
- Have you ever wondered if we took these radical and extreme forces of guiding our lives that we would be free from so many rules, fears and limitations?
- Have you ever wondered if we took Jesus at his word in these basic actions, that we would see the same powers, healing, transformations, and life that Jesus shows?
We are quick to water them down. We excuse each other trying to make it easier on each other.
The two mini parables Jesus tells in the context of discipleship are about the process of building and the gift of discernment about choosing our battles.
These are the HOW TO part of this disciples lesson.
If the requirements are outrageous, so should be the ways to faithfully follow
First, as a building project, our life as a disciple is built over time. It is not immediate. Even the Apostle Paul with is conversion on the Damascus road, is transformed from passionate life of rule following, through a radical blindness, to see that the rest of his life was God and not his own. The progressions of faith in his letters give witness to the depth of faith that builds over time. The letter to the church at Thessaloniki addresses problems and disputes. The book of Romans his latest letter is thick with faithful thought and practice.
Second, discipleship is learning the wisdom to choose our battles. There is more than one way to show our faithfulness. We need to be cautious when were here there are four simple truths or seven habits or three priorities that sum of our lives.
We may have core values, but how we use those basic beliefs shapes us in 360 degrees.
The So What? Bottom line
Jesus makes it clear:
Discipleship is not easy, but it is worth seething through to the end.
Discipleship is about constant choices about our relationships, possessions and spiritual compass.
The challenge is for the church, filled with disciples to transform the world for Christ.
How we do it is not easy, but it is worth seeing it through
It calls for constant choices about our relationship, possession and spiritual compass.
Invitation to read “Remember the Future” Bishop Robert Schnase
1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely… 7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” [NRSV]
Being one who invites.
I’m just not not comfortable, they might accept
I’m scared, lazy or too busy
I don’t know what to say
Turn the tables: what would you want if you didn’t feel at home
What if I keep inviting and they don’t come
You may not be the one, but you don’t know Gil you try
Being one who hosts
I don’t have time, money or space
Some folks do a great job and we know when we have been made to feel welcome. Family opens their hoe to 5 cadets each weekend for four years.
Be available, flexible, open minded/ open-hearted
Not a matter of money, time nor space,,, Starbucks homeless man reading lessons
Create e opportunity
Walk t Emus
Being the one who honors
Know you are not the only one at the party
Listen to those around us
See the child of god in each person no matter how different they are
Being forgetful about the scores and past performances.
Hospitality is about doing whatever it takes to make someone be at home with god and the people of god. (you and me)
Duck dynasty, uncle Si escorted out the back door of a hotel…