Sermon - 22 09 19
Published on Sunday, 22 September 2019 14:00
This weeks sermon for Trinity 14 .. Reward for bad behaviours?
So Jeremiah our prophet is once again expressing his feelings
He seems to be in a similar situation to ours
Summer is drawing to its end
There are amazing days of heat and warmth
Like yesterday and most of last week
And then days like today and worse yet to come..
Yet that is how the seasons work..
Not just haphazardly
Set in a pattern to produce a harvest
Which we can be part of ..
When we plant in season
Nurture in season
there should be a harvest
Fruit from all the hard work of the year
But Jeremiah is saying to the Hebrews
the people of Israel are so off target
with who they should be as God’s people
And it would seem that exile in Babylon
Hasn’t improved the behaviour or attitudes of the Hebrew people
the leaders continue to do their own thing
not seeking what is good for the nation
seeking only what is good only for their tribe
which in turn not only leaves them exiled in Babylon
instead of the promised land
but exile from heaven
Now I totally get where Jeremiah is coming from
Does his experience sound familiar
it can seem as though we are living in the same times.
The events and choices made by the peoples of the world
bring little unity
Just more division
More self serving
Rather than unification and care one for another..
Just look at the headlines on Friday
Trump says to Saudi Arabia
“We are locked and loaded”
In the UK our own Richmondshire Baroness Hale
Heading up he supreme court
As they work out whether Johnston is being legal
by proroguing parliament ...
or if Aidan O’Neil MP says
"the mother of Parliaments
being shut down by the father of lies"
We see proof that China
Continues to chain and blind fold its prisoners in camps ..
The most unbelievable self seeking news on that day
Was the British EU Brexit party MEP’s
Who refused to vote on a European Parliament resolution
To call on Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffee
The lady working for Reuters who was held in Iran
On suspicion of planning to overthrow the governments
Nazanin has never been charged
and is now held in Iran in a mental health institute
This lady was used as a pawn
By the MEP’s
Who were elected to represent and serve the British people In the EU
Nazanin is a British citizen
and the MEP’s elected on her behalf
On our behalf to represent and serve our needs in Europe
Chose abstain from the vote
for Nazanin to be released.
We seem to be on a downward spiral
Many people seem to be becoming Self seeking
looking out for number one
putting their individual needs put above the needs of others..
Yet among that self seeking self focussed spiral
we see glimpses of hope
of care for more than the immediate
care of more than self.
The Young people and children are being bold enough
to step out of school in protest about climate change
it is the young people
whose lives will be changed in ways
we cannot yet fully imagine by global warming
yet we often seem not to care
about those who come after us…..
Now who has heard of
Emily Coxhead who having been affected so deeply
by the constant negative news
And social media
Began writing a new newspaper
which only tells Good News stories
She doesn’t live in denial of the dreadful stuff
Emily still acknowledges dreadful events
which impact on us, but factually,
without scaremongering or point scoring..
Emily speaks reality
She simply tells the story..
And her newspaper brings joy as one reads it..
Many of us are seeing the need
to bring the balance of joy back into our lives ..
Yet as we move on to the Luke reading..
we see what can be interpreted as unjoyful
corrupt and harmful behaviour
being condoned by Jesus..
We meet the rich man
who was going to dismiss his manager
because the manager had steeling
squandering his property
And the manager ..
who knows the game is up
and doesn’t fancy earning his living by digging
or By doing manual work
and of course ....
he’s too ashamed to beg
Finds a way to recover joy
Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions
he cuts the debts of each who owe money to the rich man..
he does this so that he might at least
have some who may help him in his hour of need..
people with homes
where he may live when the job he is doing ends..
The people whose debt he cut
may have seen this act as compassion
cutting the debt is continuing the self seeking behaviour
for which he is being sacked by the manager..
So.. when the rich man finds out we can imagine the scene
Both parties know the other party knows
And the manager is getting ready to receive his P45
Or equivalent in that time ..
BUT NO ... instead of dismissing the manager immediately..
The rich man rewards the manager
By admiring his deceit..
So at first hearing
this is a story bad behaviours
on top of bad behaviours by all people
The rich man,
Those in debt
None of them seem to show any honesty..
Just like the news stories of the world today
his story has a wider angle to it if we take the time to look..
the wider angel
the deeper understanding is not all that good
but there is a sub text to all people in this story
The people for whom the manager has cut the debt
Well they now owe him a debt
not a financial one
But a debt of gratitude
And that debt
is what the manager plans to call in when his job goes.
Yet the story could also be called the dishonest rich man
As the rich man was himself being illegal
The Jewish people
were forbidden to loan moneys
If they charged interest..
It as illegal..
Money could be loaned
But not for profit.. Not for gain
So it would seem that as the rich man
found out about the manager
He would be unable to take any legal action against him
Because he too would then be seen and known
to be acting illegally..
Yet there is another angle
another explanation of this story
the rich man is God
the manager is the Hebrew people ... Israel
Israel is supposed to belong to God
Israel is God’s property manager
responsible to God
and given authority to protect his possessions
and his peoples
but Israel has failed in her task
attempting to control by laws and more laws
burdening the people
with rules and regulations
these rules … these laws
excluded the people Jesus was reaching out to
these laws excluded people
from knowing there is another way to live
these laws excluded people from knowing
they were Children of God
Yet in all of the angles
We haven’t used the word parable
This is not an ordinary story - its a parable
And the parable is not one rewarding self seeking ways..
remember it’s a parable not a story..
a parable is told to bring light to a moral of spiritual dilemma
it’s a story to teach those who hear
who God is and who we are as children of God
and how we are to be..
And this parable tells us that
it is God who loves us above all things
and if we are all loved by God above all things
then manipulating others and situations
is harmful to self, to others and to the whole of creation
remember every action has a reaction..
God who wants us to be real
See joy where joy is
seek and serve him
rather than those who do not have our best interest at heart..
Look at the stories we are told
not as the world want us to see
but with the heart of God within us..
Using our wealth
not just financial wealth
our wealth of knowledge
our wealth of presence
our wealth of love
our wealth of faith
our wealth of the gifts within us..
to further the love of God among us
not to hold on to for self
but to better the lives of others
So as much of our familiar trusted ways of being in the world
seems to be going to hell in a hand cart
one of the other readings today was Paul
writing to the church in Ephesus tells the tiny church in Ephasis
and us to pray for our leaders,
that they will pursue policies of social, economic,
and environmental justice,
with wisdom, courage, and integrity.
So I invite you to pray
Pray about the mess we are making of our world:
pray that governments, industry, politicians, and all leaders
will heed the voices of our young people, raised in protest.
pray that each of us will use our wealth
Our gifts in a way that heals and restores
and that one day soon joy and truth will be what is sought
by all those in power
For the needs of the whole world..