Reading for the next few days:
Wednesday, October 30: Luke 14 – 16
Within our congregation, we follow the Revised Common Lectionary as our guide for our Sunday morning readings. Most mainline congregations follow the RCL, so whether or not you are attending First Lutheran in Tiffin, Ohio or some other Lutheran church anywhere in the US (or even around the world) you are likely to hear the same readings share from the pulpit. For those of you who don’t know the RCL well, it is a three year cycle with one year desiganted for Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with readings from the Gospel of John interweaved intbeween.
This year is “Year C” or the “Year of Luke.” That being said, since the first of September we have been working our way through Luke 14 – 16 one parable at a time, for the past eight weeks. As I sat down to reflect on these particular readings I could recall little tidbits on each parable as I preached the Gospel over the past two months. I pondered what to share that might be moving and through provoking for you. I mean how can you reflect on all of these great parables in one fell swoop? I’d be writing a small book! Well, rather than do that, I’d like to reflect on one in particular . . . The Shrewd Manager.
“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;
One of the sources that I rely on for my Sermon prep is a pod cast from Pulpitfiction.com. On their podcast for Sept 22, Rob and Eric proposed an interesting title change. What if instead of “The Shrewd Manager” this became “The Manager who Changed Sides”? Think about that one for a minute. I think it works, and fits the story well.
In the parable, the manager “changes sides” to care for and do honest business with those who owed his master. He gave up his commission to benefit those he was charged with managing. His master didn’t lose out. He did. In the end, we can assume he was rewarded, although we don’t see/hear that part of the story. Like the manager, Jesus changed sides for us. Jesus changed sides for us, leaving the throne of glory to walk this earth, and endure the cross. Jesus changed sides for us, by becoming the sacrifice for our sins rather than leaving the cost and weight of sin for us to bear on our own. Jesus changed sides for us, so that we see God as gracious, compassionate, and loving, over and above being spiteful, vengeful, full of anger and wrath. Jesus was born to be our divine manager, to change sides for all of us, so that we might receive the reward of new and everlasting life.
Like all parables, they are left open enough to challenge our thoughts. Perhaps this helped to challenge you? Perhaps it stirs you enough to ask whose side are you on? What benefit, or difference do that make to someone else? How might you change sides to give glory to God and to help make this place a bit more like the Kingdom God intended?
Reading for the next few days:
Thursday, October 31: Luke 17 – 18
Friday, November 1: Luke 19 – 20
Saturday, November 2: Luke 21 – 22