Psalm 113 | Luke 15:11-32 | Luke 16:1-13
The story in this week's gospel is of a wealth manager who knows that he is about to get fired. He has that surge of panic that comes along with any major life setback. His plans are thrown out the window. He pictures his inevitable demise. Afraid, he begins thinking about how to create a safety net for himself. He goes to all of his employer's debtors. He finds the man who owes his employer 100 jugs of oil. "You can make it 50," he tells the man in debt. He finds another person who owes 100 containers of wheat. "Why don't you just pay back 80?" he offers kindly. He acts dishonestly, the Bible tells us, but he wins friends by acting shrewdly. You might expect the Bible to tell us about the hammer of justice coming down on this man. You might expect the preacher to preach about doing the honest thing, even when it is difficult. You might expect the gospel lesson to be about trusting God and not acting shrewdly.
Ah, but the Bible is so sneaky sometimes. The sneaky man's boss commends him for acting so shrewdly. Jesus tells those who are listening that they ought to be like this man. "Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth," Jesus tells us. What an odd story.
Bob pointed out that both the prodigal son in the story immediately preceding this one, and the shrewd manager both "squander" wealth. One of them ends up ruining his life. The other ends up saving his life. The prodigal son squanders money on himself. The end of his use of his finances is his own pleasures-it is used as his escape from reality. The shrewd man in the second story squanders his money on relationships. He recognizes his need for people-he needs someone to have his back, and so he too squanders wealth, but he squanders wealth on relationship. Bob said it this way, "the shrewd manager knows what time it is." He knows what is important in this certain place at this certain time. Do we know what time it is? For Christians, the answer to this question has everything to do with the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is at hand. This reality causes us to look at our time, wealth, skills, and compassion and to use all of these things to enter into relationship with one another and with God in meaningful ways.
We pray for many in our Grace family who are facing uncertainty. We ask for your patience to guide them in this time as they await major life changing experiences from family health concerns, financial challenges, to job changes. May each person facing uncertainty seek you for all they need and seek. Provide wisdom and confidence that you guide and protect us.
Father, it was said of the Prodigal Son that he “came to himself.” Help us to wake up to ourselves, and to You. Set us free from the illusion of trying to be perfect so that we might be more fully human. Help us not to chase after an imaginary life, and to find satisfaction in our real lives. And turn us away from our self-rejection so that we might see that Your arms open in welcome.
Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer
- Join us next Sunday for worship as it will be James Falzones final Sunday as the music director. Following the service, we will have lunch at Bob and Jill Reid's house. All are invited! An RSVP and more information can be found here.
- Beer and Hymns is on October 2nd. Everyone is invited to join us at Gideon Welles on Sunday, October 2nd for drinks and songs. Check out this website for more information, and pass it along to anyone who might be interested!
- Men's Meetup is this Thursday. We're meeting at Hopcat, a new bar in Chicago on Clark Street. We'll meet at 7:30. Hope to see you there!