Words with Jesus Devotional - Week 3
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – “Debts Are Tossed”
September 18, 2022 – Luke 16:1-13; Numbers 21:4-9
Color: Green – Communion Sunday
Call to Worship:
Leader: For the healing of the nations, O God, you raised up your Son on the wood of the cross. All: You exalted him as the Lord of all creation,
and you invite all peoples to receive
the blessings that flow from His heart. Leader: Grant that all who believe in Christ Jesus may share the gift of eternal life. All: Enable us to share the glory of your kingdom with all who are seeking healing today. Amen.
Prayer of Illumination:
Loving God, open our ears to hear your word and draw us closer to you, that the whole world may be one with you as you are one with us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1st Reading: Numbers 21:4-9 (NRSV) Updated Edition
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom, but the people became discouraged on the way.
5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.”
6 Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.
7 The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So, Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.”
9 So, Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it upon a pole, and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
Gospel (Preaching) Text: Luke 16:1-13 (NRSV) Updated Edition
16 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. 2 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.’
3 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. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’
5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 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.’
8 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. 9 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.
10 “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. 11 If, then, you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 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.”
Reflections by our beloved quilter, Cathie Favret
No, we’re not talking about extraterrestrial little green men. In the quilting world, UFO refers to an UnFinished Object. Whether it’s due to lack of time or interest or perhaps an unexpected death, there are plenty of quilts that are unfinished. They remind me of myself – I’m an UnFinished Object.
Life is all about growth and improvement and I try not to be too hard on myself when I don’t feel that I’ve measured up to a challenge. But, then, I remind myself that God has me in the palm of her hand and she’ll finish this ongoing object that is me. When she’s done, I will be the very best I can be.
A Note from Pastor Wynne:
Indeed, we are all UnFinished Objects, just as Cathie shares. In the desert, the folx in our Numbers reading who had, not too long before, witnessed a tremendous intensity in miraculous signs and wonders, still felt moments of deep confusion, abandonment, fear, anxiety, anger, resentment and absolute rage. Many people perished on account of such feelings, and from the deep chasms that their miscommunications and anger and resentment carved out between them and their leader and YHWH who had rescued them from the bonds of slavery.
Freedom from one form of bondage does not necessarily free the heart or the spirit. And so, even if we have witnessed miracles and received an abundance of blessings, we may still experience seasons of doubt and fear and anxiety and anger. We may still be walking through a dark night of the soul, or experiencing a spiritual wilderness time, even if we have been freed, for example from a harmful relationship, or an oppressive work environment, or ceased using drugs or alcohol. The addiction or the abuse or the trauma from the past can become a lying lure, waiting like a poisonous snake yet ready to bite us at any time, unless we find a good support network and place our trust in that network and healthy relationship or group. It means we have to ask for help when we feel lost or tempted, or afraid, or are experiencing the temptation to return to the way things were, even in the toxic living environment.
Here, in these times where we have been experiencing deep spiritual and emotional chaos, confusion, disenchantment with our leaders and struggle within our interpersonal relationships, we have also seen deep chasms growing in our society as a whole. These are not easy times that we are living in, so it is no wonder we are a little tattered around our edges.
We need to be gentle with ourselves, with our families and with our teachers and spiritual leaders in these times. We are just emerging from a time of deep challenge. There is yet more to this shared journey. Let us not feel like we are walking alone. Let us support one another in Christ Shaped Love.
Let us pray:
Holy God, we pray for a softening of our spirits towards one another. We ask You to intervene and to help us to see where we have been tattered and torn or are a little bit threadbare. Take us to your weaving table, and help our tattered edges find new life.
We need Your shrewd management skills, for You can see what we yet cannot see. You know how we all fit together. You know how the shadows and the highlights of our individual and collective lives will all come together in the end. We as a whole, as the collection of human dirt creatures throughout the world and throughout the span of history, are only a part of the Great Tapestry of Life that you are working through all of creation. Give us a glimpse of your vision for us in the times we find ourselves in now. And guide us together, mending our tattered edges with the strength of your Holy Spirit.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.