Archive for category Leadership
The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah….Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation— I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [NRSV]
A Vision of Isaiah
Concerning Period 3 Kings and 1 regent
The period of time is between 790 to 690 BC. Isaiah lead as a prophet through the end of Uzziah into the reign of Hezekiah.
During this period, God’s people of Judah fought with God’s people of Israel and made expedient allies of Syria and Egypt as they needed help. The people shifted for faithfulness to completely selling out to Idolatry with the Canaanites, with King Ahaz made a replica of the idea of Baal in the temple of Judah and made offering go his son’s life to the altar of Molech. Hezekiah finally brings faithfulness back after heading Isaiah’s warning and even invited the Northern Kingdom to celebrate Passover together.
An Argument with God.
First, it’s acceptable to argue with God if you know in the end that God is God and that you and I are not. With that said God is supremely patience, but will, in the end, call us to faithfulness and obedience.
Isaiah’s Account of God side setting up for the argument:
- rulers of Sodom!
- you people of Gomorrah!
- So you talk about the many sacrifices?
- Do You think that your offerings buy my favor?
- Your many holiday and celebrations? I don’t want your songs and gifts.
- Why would I want to be at your good holiday, and you ignore your sin?
- You think you have figured out creation, and use the heavens as a tool to measure and control me?
- You can raise your hands and prayers and songs, I’m not listening.
- If this is how you make religion replace a relationship of trust and obedience, then I don’t want you in my sight.
- Wash yourselves;
- make yourselves clean;
- remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes;
- cease to do evil,
- learn to do good;
- seek justice,
- rescue the trampled, taken advantage of, or forgotten.
When you have done these things, then let’s argue.
The Good News is that when we find ourselves through obedience to God, we find the Goodness in life.
- It is easy to dismiss this passage as history and not hear it applying to ourselves.
- First, as this is presented as God’s Message for the political and spiritual leaders of the day.
- So it is easy to point fingers and blame the king.
- This word does not excuse the king of doing what is Godly.
- Nor does this word excuse US for doing what is Godly and obedient, we can’t blame our leaders for all the sin.
You pick the topic of news, debate, crisis, and threat of this past week alone, and know-how quickly people look for blame. Isaiah’s word is for Judah and Israel. It is for you and for me.
- Stop Blaming
- Stop making excuses
- Stop looking for our own ideas and solutions
- Turn back to God
- Trust God’s Goodness and Word
- Trust God’s will and wisdom
- Trust God’s way and place ourselves as a servant of God and God’s people and will then God will make us the witness to all the nations.
We live more in time like Ahaz rather than Hezekiah. When the world is rejecting God and replacing anything and everything in God’s place, it is no wonder that evil and chaos.
So what are we to do about our nation and our leaders?
We are not only called to
- Repent of our sins,
- Stop acting like knuckleheads
- Start witnesses to those who are
- and be a strength to those who are trampled and taken advantage of.
But not in reverse:
We’d rather just do one or two on the list… but its a process
- It’s not about just serving the oppressed
- It is also dealing with sin, ours and theirs
- It’s not just about talking about forgiveness and change
- it is becoming an actual example of obedience.
- First, Paul’s instruction to pray for everyone, including kings and high officials.
- Secondly, Paul’s ministry of being a messenger and apostle as a teacher of the Gentiles.
B. Ministry Authority:
- (In readying how Paul was persicuted, jailed, shipwrecked, run out of town, dismissed by others in the Way, in the church: for his earlier persicustion of Jesus, Paul is claiming athority by appointment from God.)
- As Wesleyan Methodist we see God’s preventative, justifying and sanctifying graces at work. As well as an affirmation that some authority is revealed directly in our experience of the Holy Spirit.
- God using someone that was the least likely person to reach the Jewish community and certainly not the Gentile community.
- I believe this is the connection Paul wants to affirm to Timothy because he is conferring this authority Timothy, to the rest of the church and to you and me gathered here today.
Paul’s reminder to Timothy is also a reminder to each of us and to those who believe and trust some other gods, doctrines or principles.
- Externally, When we listen to the civil view of the church’s role it has become one of many voices.
- Internally, When we pray only for whom and what we want, rather than for God’s will and work.
- Communally & Personally, When we listen to fears and hate rather than prayer we attack truth and trust
You and I are the Heralds, Leaders, and Teacher that are called model a life of prayer for this world: teaching, revealing and modeling the grace and power of Christ to save, save us all. Amen.
LinK: I could lie, but I won’t liey to you. God is with us and calls us to tell Christ’s truth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wherever_I_Go_(song) OneRepublic Lyrics:
I know I could lie, but I won’t lie to you
Wherever I go, you’re the ghost in the room
I don’t even try looking for something new
Cause wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you
Some people try but they can’t find the magic
Others get down on their knees and they pray
I come alive when I’m close to the madness
No easy love could ever make me feel the same
Make me feel the same
Traditional Music : UMBH
- I Exalt Thee
- 399 Take My Life
- 395 Take Time to be Holy
- 402 Lord I Want to be a Christain
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”
And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. [NRSV]
John the Baptizer
John the Baptizer is best known for pronouncing the arrival of Jesus as the Message and baptizing Jesus in the Jordon river. As a prophet, he is not only preaching to the crowds of ordinary folks. He is also the voice holding the leaders accountable. People throughout the region respected John; some thought he might be the embodiment of the prophet, Elijah, promised from generations ago.
The role of a prophet is to be a messenger reminding people of the things they should already know. Occasionally a prophet will have an apocalyptic message, but it general always followed with, a warning to repent and return to being faithful for God. John the Baptizer is no different.
His message to the king was the same as it was to the people. Repent. Namely John was called out Herod for inappropriate marriage. He married his brother’s wife.
The Herod Family: The Royals, Kardashians and Jerry Springer Meet Billy Graham
Herod’s mother was Jewish, therefore Herod was ½ and Jewish by technicality. He married Herodias after they both divorces their spouses. Herodias, grand-daughter of Alexander the Great, married Phillip who happened to be her uncle. Herodias used her daughter, Salome, to entice and entrap Herod to have John the Baptizer executed for calling the family’s sinful behavior out.
Happy Birthday Dear Herod
The scene is a birthday party: Herod’s birthday party. Herodias uses he brother’s daughter to dance provocatively for her uncle/step-father. Herod is pleased so much that he offers half his kingdom to the child. Salome goes to ask her mother how to best cash-in on the oath of an offer. A pony? A chest of jewels? Her own palace? No, mom has her ask for the head of John the Baptizer. ??Happy birthday to you…Oh dear how dreadful.
So let’s get to the lesson: John the Baptizer calls out the twisted, brokenness on which Herod and Herodias family and relationship are held together. Treachery, murder, divorce, inappropriate re-marriage and abuse of children.
1. No one disputes that John is wrong.
2. Even Herodias knows John is right and holy, she simply does not like what she hears.
3. For calling out the family’s sin, Herodias holds a grudge against John the Baptizer, no forgiveness
4. Herod agrees by his silence and complicit behavior.
5. Herod give his word and will not change his word even when it conflicts with God’s word, (though shall not kill for one.)
6. Herod also listened to John the Baptizer and liked what he heard about repentance, but Herod didn’t hear this for himself and apply the teaching to his own life.
Prophets are ordinary folks who: REMIND people and leaders to be FAITHFUL to God
Being a prophet is risky business.
The People might turn on you, and not listen and follow someone they like better.
The Leader might have you killed.
Question: So who would ever want to be a prophet?
I suggest that God calls each of use to be prophets, at different times. As we study and grow in understanding of God’s laws, guides, grace, love and power in our own lives. When I am selfish, brutish and unforgiving, I experience life without God’s love, power and grace.
We can see the same in others. Because we know the power of God’s word, love and grace we are also entrusted with sharing with other where we see sin, as a warning, not a judge.
- If someone is walking too close to the street from the sidewalk, we say, move to the center before you get hit by that truck.
- If someone is speeding down the highway, we say, hey slow down your might get a ticket and you might kill us if someone stops suddenly in front of us.
- If someone is choose a circular pattern of destructive behavior, habitual abuse, addictions, uncontrolled anger, etc. we say, you need to get some help, you need to see a doctor, you need a counselor, you need to stop and break the cycle. There is better way; you have another choice. God loves you more than you love you. Don’t ever forget it.
When we point out sin with the purpose of sharing a way of repentance, we are not judging, we are affirming that sin power, real and destructive in our lives. We have a way out of sin, Jesus Christ.
We are all guilty of sin. We all have different ways that we put our word, ideas, will and value ahead of God’s. John the Baptizer models a way to get back to God. He is not judging, he his holding up a mirror to see the truth..
We are the mirror people. Why don’t we believe were are all prophets? Because it’s dangerous.
We want hazard pay at best. Ask Jesus. He’s got you covered. Now get out there and call for repentance. They world is going on a hand basket. And Gos is calling us to call out sin, offer repentance and bring people back to God.
Posted by myoikos in Boldness, Christian LIving, Disicpleship, Extravagant Generosity, Generosity, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Leadership, Passionate Worship, Radical Hospitality, Relationship, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Sacrifice, Service, Spiritual Growth, Stewardship, Trust, Witness on January 24, 2015
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]
Licensed to Catch
To be authorized to fish on state waters and waters that lead to state waters you must have a license to fish. It is a piece of paper with slopping dot matrix ink that is barely legible that cost just a few dollars for a whole year of fun and recreation, but try to sneak out without one and you will wish you had the permit. That license helps keep lakes and rivers stocked, rangers on watch and some efforts to protect waters for future fishing. It seems to me that it sounds much more impressive to call one’s permit a license to fish, rather than a stocking fee or a wildlife protection fee or a ranger administrative fee. Now I complain every time they increase the rate, but its still one of the best values our state provides.
With a license to fish it sounds like your are a professional catcher of fish, a regular James Bond in the wilderness. Licensed, licensed to fish. And yet that little piece of paper is your letter of authorization to attempt to catch a fish.
Unless you use your bare hands or a catchers mitt, I suggest that the whole endeavor is misnamed. Catching fish is the rarity in my experience. Practicing is the art of hoping and trying to catch. I have cast my line MANY more times than I have ever caught a fish.
And when I have successfully retrieved a fish from his watery home, I generally use every method I have to capture the little creature. And in my experience, my catch is a small creature; one I probably should use my bare hands to ‘catch’ rather than a load of specialized gear, bait and practice.
To be successful at fishing might have nothing to do with catching anything, except a nap in the great outdoors.
To be successful at fishing might be in helping someone catch what you have little or no success achieving yourself.
To be successful at fishing I know that the cost to procure a fish is not measured by the total investment, rather in the most recent success story. (Boat, poles, line, lures, trailers, flotation devices, motors, umbrella, wetsuit, waders, various must-have pieces of tackle, just to get started.) The cost of a ‘catch’ is the most recent worm and and the gas to transport you to the best spot.
A Failure at Fishing
You might think you have failed a fishing if you came home with no fish, but learning WHY you came home empty handed might be the successful lesson.
Coming home with a boat load of fish actually means more work of cleaning and cooking your catch which might be the last thing you want to do after three hours of driving, unloading and loading a boat, working on a broken boat, waking a mile back to go to the bathroom because your little helper doesn’t want to go in the woods, enduring some mud and rain, going through the first aid kit from miscellaneous hook injuries and only finding the little ones that need to be returned to grow bigger.
Luxury of Catch and Release
It is such a mixed message to take a child fishing when it’s catch-and-release season. First all the hype about “catching” fish and bringing it home to eat for dinner is the stuff that beginning fisher-folk legends are founded. You finally catch one, beginner’s luck you find the biggest one of the whole fishing parting and you have to throw it back. I wanted to eat it and mount it for all posterity, not through it back!
But there is actually a great level of maturity, delayed-gratification, or at least perspective when you can use all at your disposal to hook and retrieve your catch and not have to keep it
- because that is not the only meal your family might have is at the end of your line.
- because you don’t need to show anyone your catch,
- because you have learned to enjoy to sport of fishing
- because you want to leave fish for those who need the meal they provide
- because you don’t want to clean them
- because you found your enjoyment in the journey rather than the trophy
“Catching” is not the high-water-point of fishing!
Sharing fishing with someone else is the joy of fishing.
- You need no license to share the story
- You need no experience, success nor failure, to share the fun
- You don’t have to know what your doing and you may be the most practiced professional
Sharing the adventure of catching is heart.
Jesus goes a long way to share an INVITATION to share the ADVENTURE of FISHING
Jesus never promised that we would catch a single person
Jesus invites us to go on an adventure bigger than what we could catch if we tried, practiced,
Jesus extends INVITATION rather than LICENSES
Jesus calls us to use the skill and talents we know and have and INVITES us to share them with the work of the Kingdom.
Jesus continues to call disciples
Look to the persons on either side:
- Remind them “You are a disciples”
- Remind them “You are a fisher, not a catcher”
- Remind them “You don’t have to know what you are doing, just follow Jesus”
- Remind them “Lead with what you know”
- Remind them of the tough part: “Sometimes following Jesus is leaving other things behind”
Jesus Calls Disciples who make new Disciples, who fish for more disciples…
The ADVENTURE is ours,
we never graduate,
we never retire,
we may have weary, uncertain times, but
there is always more fishing to be done. So keep it up
Let’s go fishing
- It’s too cold
- It’s too wet
- I don’t have a license
- I don’t know where to go
- I don’t have the right equipment
- I don’t know how
- I’m tired of fishing
- I don’t like fish
- I want someone to fish for me, I like the restaurant/grocery story method.
So why are we here as church, if we are not about the one thing Jesus asked disciples…
I’m up for the ADVENTURE!
I have a story to SHARE!
- I don’t know how to fish, but I know who does!
- I don’t have license, but I have forgiveness and love!
- I might have skills and equipment, God wants what we bring! God fulfills what we leave behind.
- I might get tired, God plans for rest.
- I might not like the people God sends me to, but I know God loves us all
- If I don’t follow, what will I miss and who will miss God….
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. [NRSV]
Two favorite words of many folks who sit in pews on Sunday mornings: “In Closing” This is context of Paul final letter to the church at Corinth.
In Paul’s farewell closing, to a congregation he had shared joys and sorrow as well as challenges and great strides, he makes a final request.
- Put things in order
- Remember the Example and Teaching
- Find common ground
- Live in peace
- Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Then he gives a final blessing: The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion with the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Knowing we remember the last thing and the first thing but forget things in the middle of the list, Think intentionally about Paul’s list:
Put things in God’s order.
Value What we have learned.
Let go of pride and control.
Value yourself and your part, but never out of balance with the Common Good.
Make Peace and live in it.
Seal it with a kiss and remind each other with a kiss every time to meet.
One of the good things about a move is that it forces you to put things in order. If there was a box I had not opened in four years I threw it away. There was only one of those this time.
Making a transition of home and work and relationships, banking, doctors, changing addresses, automatic billings, building new trusts, friendship and partnerships helps you grow. Can you image if we did things the opposite way, every several years, the preachers stayed at the churches and the members went to different churches and communities, not of their choice and not of their timing. I think it might true help bring some order and balance to our appointive system.
Get things in order, not for the sake of order, but for Moving Ahead..
Following My Teaching
The greatest compliment is to use what a teacher has taught you. Or better yet, to build up how a teacher has inspired you to become more than you were before. Paul pleads: Don’t forgot what I taught you.
Value Common Ground and you will find Peace for yourself and between each other (He is talking to the church and not the world at this point.) Can you believe there would every be fighting or division or evil or ill-will in the church? (Sarcasm for the Wit-challenged debators)
It is equally a vice and flaw for the church then as it is now, to think the church is ours. At my first church there was another church in the community that drew many members from every church in the county. It was known as “Rev Danny May’s Church.” Somewhere it changed from being known as the body of Christ, and became known as the empire of Danny May. Let’s not pick on Danny. Let’s just remember the church is not ours and it does not exist to serve us.
Make Peace with Each other and Expect God to Show up when we seek God’s will and peace.
Finally… Three points later, the Preacher’s preacher has a final call for action:
Every time you greet one another, seal the relationship with a kiss,
What is a kiss? A kiss can have many different meanings. Paul is calling for a sign of love. If you just can’t stand the thought of sharing germs find another way to show that your CHURCH relationship is one based in love. Paul is not calling for a liturgical kiss, but something with power and meaning. Imaging hearing the preacher say, “You may kiss the bride” and groom just gives the bride a little peck on the top of the hand… we’d be worried the marriage was on the rocks. If you started kissing everyone in line a Ingles or Walmart someone would call the cops. Somewhere in the middle ground is a sign of genuine pledge of love that we begin and end our conversations… Seal the relationship with signs of love.
Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit,
May All of God be in All we Do. Amen.
(The Father’s Day model signs of God in grace, love and community.) Not because you have to because you can, not because you are expected to, but because you want to, Not because you need, rather because you are needed.)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. [NRSV]
1. An Emphasis on Exceptional connection over Exclusive access.
Many times I have heard this passage be used as a definitive and exclusive statement that there is one way to God and that is to come through the ‘gate’ of Jesus. We talked about the gate some last Sunday. Rather than focus on the exclusive side of this statement, focus on the “Look no further” perspective.
Jesus makes clear that what we see in him, we receive the clearest picture of the father, our creator, God.
Through conversation, feeding and breaking bread together, in showing grace, forgiveness and loving-kindness, we see the character and nature of God through Jesus Christ.
Do you ever see Jesus being jealous, power-hungry, interested in revenge? Does Jesus show us how to belittle others, take advantage of the foolish, disregard the sick or elderly? Does Jesus ignore the children or avoid discussing politics? In fact its just the opposite.
2. Making the connection with God. The target of every system of religious practice and organization.
The thing that Jesus repeats his lesson for is to make certain that disciples, believers look to him for the path and way of salvation. John Wesley, the founder of our denomination, lifts up the process of grace to give us a handle for guiding our way to God.
First God is ahead of us drawing us God-ward. Second, it is through Jesus that we see and experience the example of Grace that affects us all even before we believe. Third is when we accept that loving Grace and Four are the moments that we walk hand-in-hand. Me holding your hand, Christ hold your hand, Jesus holding God’s hand. Together we are connected.
3. Are you Connected? Do you believe.. then show me the works of God in you:
Here is the difficult part of this passage that is inferred to disciples both then and now. “Those who believe will do what Jesus does and even greater things because of the connection.”
One of the under rated words in our United Methodist Vocabulary is being ‘connectional’ in ministry. It is the connection that work through the appointive process for clergy moving from one church to another. It is the connection that makes us not in competition with other church but journeying together in the same direction. It is the connection that is shared in music, our educational material, our ordination and communion. That which connects us is our common worship of Christ… not our methods rather our savior.
4. Go Ahead, Ask, Make my day..
Jesus puts disciples and the connection of faith and belief into action: Go ahead and ask and I will show up in your witness and belief.
Jesus asks us as disciples do you believe? If so, let’s see the grace work in you. Let’s hear the words of praise! Let’s see how you treat children and those who are weak. Let’s see how you treat strangers and preachers? Let’s hear how Christ is present, connecting us to God and God to the world around us… Are there missing links? Is there anyone who we have yet to share Christ’s grace with? If so, the we have our work cut out for us. Let’s get busy.
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.
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…