September 22, 2019
15th Sunday after Pentecost
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. 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.’
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. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’
So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 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.’
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. 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.
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. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?
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.”
Something to Do
You cannot serve God and wealth
Look at your calendar and your cheque book (or whatever serves as your cheque book). When and where are you serving God? When and where are you serving wealth?
Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much
Keeping small commitments is a discipline that helps us keep bigger commitments.
Last week, you were invited to do one small thing to address the environmental crisis that confronts us. This week, turn that one small thing into an ongoing commitment. Some suggestions, in case you need one:
- leave the car at home for a day
- remember to use your reusable mug/water bottle/grocery bags
- shorten your shower
- stop eating meat one day a week
- write to your MP or a candidate or a party about their plans to address climate change
Something to Wonder
This parable can be very confusing. Is Jesus encouraging us to be dishonest? What is the relationship between making friends by means of dishonest wealth and eternal life? And what’s the connection to the point that we can’t serve two masters? What does any of this mean!?
Consider the possibility that God is not the master. And the possibility that Jesus is being sarcastic when he says: “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.”.
Does that shift anything for you?
Serving Two Masters
The environmental crisis is evidence that we have, at best, been serving two masters and, at worse, have been serving only the wrong one. Placing wealth at the centre of our political and personal lives has resulted in the unchecked exploitation of the natural resources that sustain life such that our very world is now at risk.
What shrewd dealings are needed so that we might save ourselves?
Something to Learn
A Just Transition
Serving God rather than wealth requires all of us to worry about more than our own comfort, turning our concern towards our neighbours and all of creation.
Last Sunday, Ascension welcomed Karri Munn-Venn to preach during our service and to stay afterwards for further conversation. She talked about the Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) call for a Just Transition as Canada moves to decarbonization, “whereby the weight of change is not borne disproportionately by one group of people”. Read more about CPJ’s work for ecological justice.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.