Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost marked the beginning of a new age – the age of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God in this world. In the early chapters of Acts we are given windows to see what this Kingdom looks like and lives like.
Already within the gospels, Jesus has been telling what the Kingdom of God is like, what it lives like.
This week a story Jesus tells his disciples leads us into two ages: the present age, in which the here and now holds persons captive to possessions and wealth; and the age to come in which the kingdom of God is one’s main concern. The dishonest steward—a man whose main concern is the here and now of this present age– is accused of using what belongs to his master for his own means. When confronted with losing his job, he hits on the shrewd idea of culling favor with his master’s debtors by reducing what they owe in significant ways – for some as much as 50% and for others 20%. For anyone who is in debt, this would be a welcome relief! The steward’s motive, however, is to build friendships so that these persons in debt will take care of him when he has no other employment. He uses the things of this life to ensure his future—in this present age.
Hence the lesson of Jesus’ story: as children of light we are counseled to use the things of this life in light of the world to come: the kingdom of heaven. As children of light we are called to “see” the world and its systems and lures for what it is, and so to gaze beyond the here and now to where our eternal home is. Our hope is in God, rather than in wealth.
Just as the unfaithful steward was motivated by his need for security in his decision to reduce debt, so we also are called to examine our motives for how we handle wealth and possessions. Nothing, finally, is ours. We are stewards of all that is in this present world for God’s purposes, for the sake of the Kingdom.
To be a steward is vastly different from being a slave of all that is. As a slave we are controlled, we have no freedom of choice, we cease to be human and become an object mastered by possessions and wealth. As stewards we serve a vastly different master, God our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, and loving Abba who holds our inheritance, our true wealth, in heaven. When this present age and the world–as-it-is lets us down (and it will) we can offer what we hold for God’s purposes for the good and help of others. In this way we are living as children of light who have an eternal dwelling. Our home is assured in the age to come.
Reflect on your history—your life experience—with money and possessions.
Include reflection on the relationship with money and things in your family of origin.
How did this relationship shape your own ideas, practice, and relationship with money and things as you became an adult?
In what way is knowing and following Jesus inviting you to change?
What has changed for you? What is difficult to change?
As you live into the gospel narrative this week, what do you sense Jesus is calling you to consider, to cease from doing? To do?
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
9/16 Monday: Luke 16:1-9
9/17 Tuesday: Luke 16:10-13
9/18 Wednesday: Psalm 113
9/19 Thursday: Amos 8:4-7
9/20 Friday: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
9/21 Saturday: Luke 16:1-9
9/22 Sunday: Luke 16:10-13