Finding Release - Our Money Story - Week 2
“Our Money Story” - Week 2
October 9th, 2022 –
Exodus 16:1-18, Luke 22:1-23
Artwork: finding release by lauren wright pittman Inspired by Matthew 19:16-22 (A wealthy man seeks eternal life) acrylic, ink, & watercolor on canvas
Welcome to the second week of “Our Money Story” series! As we share some of the resources from A Sanctified Art this season, we have hung these art pieces up on the wall in the sanctuary. You are welcome to come into the sanctuary during office hours (9 am to 1 pm, Monday through Thursday) or to view the artwork before or after worship on Sunday mornings.
Artists’ Statement for “Finding Release”:
As I write this in the midst of a global pandemic, we are collectively grieving countless losses and desperately seeking answers to quell our fears of what’s to come. The economy is nosediving and many face grave illness or even death. Some can’t see past the fog of new living restrictions and are calling to reopen the economy because they believe it will save us. Others are choosing to stay home, risking economic fallout, to protect the lives of the vulnerable.
When afraid, we turn inward. I see fear and loneliness in the rich man. He’s focused on an individual path, leading to his personal salvation, while missing the full picture. The man’s wealth may cause him comfort, but it does not exist in a vacuum. His wealth affects the lives of others—particularly those at the margins of society.
Jesus offers the rich man spiritual grounding that completely threatens his financial stability, but it’s good news just the same. Jesus reveals to the rich man the truth that we are all connected. Jesus chooses to name commandments concerning interpersonal relationships and community (v. 18-19). Jesus offers the rich man freedom from his entanglement with wealth, and gifts him belonging and a way forward (v. 21). The rich man feels the weight of this truth. To “enter this life” he must recognize his responsibility for his neighbor, because our lives are interwoven.
Instead of grasping to Jesus’ lifeline, the rich man turns away because he cannot fathom losing everything. His grief feels palpable in this time of upheaval. I meditated on his grief, layering dusty purples, muted greens, and chalky blacks. I imagine the rich man isn’t turning away from Jesus altogether. Perhaps he’s taking space to feel his grief, processing all he will lose so he can truly find release.
— lauren wright pittman | a sanctified art | sanctifiedart.org
 Written in April 2020, in the surge of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.
Call to Worship
One: Through Moses, God said,
All: “Let my people go.” (Ex.9:1)
One: In scripture, the law declares:
All: “In the seventh year, you must cancel all debts.” (Deut.15:1)
One: With grace, Jesus said:
All: “Give one coat away.” (Luke 3:11)
One: With honesty, Jesus taught:
All: “Sell what you have, give that money to the poor.” (Matt. 19:21)
One: Faith has always involved letting go, releasing, setting free, dropping our nets, giving to others, and following.
All: So in this hour of worship, may we release that which binds us.May we worship with open, untamed, and porous hearts, so that we can walk freely with God.
One: Let it be so.
Prayer for Illumination
Gracious God,We release our hearts to you. First, we remove the pressure, For release requires the freedom to be moved. Then we allow our hearts to return to their original resting position— In sync with you, with the rhythm of summer cicadas, and this whole wild creation. Then, we pray that you will find our hearts available— Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. So like the mockingbird releases her song, We release our hearts to you. Move in them. Stir us awake. Speak to us now. We are waiting. Amen.
1st Reading - Deut. 15:1-11
Laws concerning the Sabbatical Year
15 “Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. 2 And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it, but you must remit your claim on whatever any member of your community owes you.
4 There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, 5 if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. 6 When the Lord your God has blessed you, as he promised you, you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.
7 “If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. 8 You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be.
9 Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt.
10 Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11 Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’
2nd Reading - Matthew 19:16-22
The Rich Young Man
16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus said, “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. 19 Honor your father and mother. Also, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Affirmation of Faith
We believe that on the first day, God released love and creativity over a void; and that void became mountains and rivers, sunsets and starry nights. We believe God released God’s people from the grips of slavery, liberating us day in and day out. We believe God laid down with deathand was released from its grip, knowing suffering and freeing us from this fragile life.
And we believe God invites us— day in and day out— to release our fears,
let go of assumptions, tear down walls, throw open the doors, and walk closer to love.
May it be so. Amen.
by our beloved quilter, Cathie Favret
"Blackbird Has Spoken"
The hymn, “Morning Has Broken,” has a special meaning for me. Dad always said that if you missed seeing the sun come up you missed the best part of the day. As a teenager, I certainly didn’t see the wisdom in that statement! But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that he was right. (He was also right about many other things, but that’s another story.)
Every day truly is the first day of the rest of our lives. I try to remember that every morning as I walk to the end of the driveway to pick up the paper. I look at the sunrise and think of Dad and the words to the hymn which could have been written for him.
Morning has broken like the first morning;
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing. Praise for the morning.
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word
Mine is the sunlight. Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning;
God’s recreation of the new day!
by Pastor Trista Wynne
Cathie's reflection on the "brand new day" is very fitting for our Scripture passages this week. Consider, if you would, the enormous burden of student loan debt, or a mountain of medical bills, or an inherited debt owed by your family for many generations upon generations to those who controlled vast amounts of wealth. The forgiveness of debts is not simply a concept that Jesus came up with during his lifetime.
The year of Jubilee, and the realeasing of old debts was a commandment set up in the very beginning of the establishment of the laws and regulations of the people in the linneage of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebekah. As the people who were led to freedom from bondage were entering a new land, a covenantal love was being recorded, and one of the founding tenants that would reveal to the world that these were the people who honored God was the forgiveness of all debts - every seven years.
What would happen, if every seven years, the debt cycle was erased? What kind of freedom would we live in? What kind of society would we share with the world? What if we actually adopted God's law? This is not a value that is often spoken about in the wider culture. We have far too many other things to bicker about in our society, don't we?
But what an incredible day it would be -- if everyone was actually free from debts. Who knows -- we might actually all be free to choose what we would become in the world, and live more fully into our calling, if only debt wasn't so very heavy in our worldwide economic culture! And oh, what a day that would be! Truly, that would be a day where we would feel like we were entering into the very first morning, as though in teh beginning of the world.
Praises would be never ending, and we would feel as though all things were being made new...
What a wonderful world that would be!