Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost- Sermon
9/22/13- Year C
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Oh no. I can see it in the nervous shifting of seats and the crinkling of bulletins. I can hear it in the uncomfortable coughs breaking through the midst of momentary silence. I can feel it is as I labor a little heavier to breathe in the last milliliters of oxygen as you all are holding in your gasps. Waiting. Wondering. Fearing. Another. Sermon. About. Money. Especially after last week’s wonderful message to us from Pastor Wendel. Well you can all let go your held breath and relax. Though the topic is primed and ready and Jesus has set us up for a little batting practice to hit a home run or two on stewardship. Jesus himself in the gospel has left us with the perfect punchline for such a sermon, “You cannot serve both God and Money.” You can almost hear the wood collecting with the ball (KNOCK) as pastor drives in the bases loaded grand slam on stewardship. And no I have not been watching baseball much this year, my cubs were mathematically eliminated sometime back in May as were my Twins also, if I’m not mistaken. But I did just recently watch Field of Dreams, so I apologize for the baseball imagery today.
Though Money is set up for us and aligns with the parable of the dishonest manager, did any of you perhaps sense or catch up on something else repeated and refrained throughout our lesson this morning? It struck me more this year than it did the last time it came up in the lectionary, perhaps because of our meetings last week with Pr. Wendel. Though the dishonest manager is praised for his shrewdness, Jesus spends more time talking about its opposite: trust and honesty. Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much. If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches. And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? It seems at least for me today, our Lord hits us disciples hard on the issue and reality of trust. And it is trust of which I think we need to speak today or rather our Lord needs to speak to us today.
Having learned the hard way way trust is something that is a priceless commodity of our human lives. It is woven into the very fabric of creation, and yet almost as quickly undone in creation. The Lord created the heavens and the earth a place of trust as everything our first parents would have needed to thrive and survive were given to them in creation. Trust spoken as clay formed. Trust made in the depth of sleep and rib removed. Trust seen in the face of a beautiful and perfect helper. Trust lived in the communion of one another and one another with God. And all that trust undone in a whisper, a violation, and a fruit eaten. What took a good two chapters of Genesis to describe, all fell apart in a few verses. Trust broken between man and wife, between man and creation, between God and man. We were made and created for lives of trust and honesty or shall we use the more churchly word, “faith” and yet how quickly we find ourselves naked, vulnerable, defenseless in the presence of faithlessness, trust broken.
During my days in seminary, and this might come as a to surprise you but we’re not all perfect in seminary either. It may sound like a place filled with holiness and piety, but it is in all reality a place where fellow sinners are living out their own salvation with fear and trembling. I had what I thought was a good friend. We hung out together. We smoked our pipe’s and cigars together whislt talking theology. Sharing cold Lutheran beverages as well. I don’t even remember what caused our friendship to end, but all I remember was that because of something I said or did, she no longer talked with me. I was persona non grata. What two years together had built up was gone in a flash. Needless to say the silence of a friend only fueled my own anger and personal hurt. I dreaded seeing her in the dorms and on campus and especially at worship. Of course only God would do this...the chapel at LTSS has its communion rail circling all away around the altar. And at communion people walk up the center aisle and then kneel around the altar. Her and I had been sitting at opposite sides of the chapel, so we could naturally avoid one another. That is until it came time for communion. Not only did we go up for communion at the same time, and not only were we at the same table together, but the way the spaces opened up, we knelt side by side in pain with hands extended and palms open. Both waiting to receive the same bread of life. We both wanted to pull away from each other, but there in that moment God brought us quite literally together, to heal. In that act on that day Luther’s final words rang so deeply and profoundly true to me, “we are beggars: this is true.”
We all are beggars, penitents kneeling, waiting, wanting to be healed from whatever and whoever has broken our trust. And wanting to be forgiven for when we ourselves have broken another’s. WE are all beggars around this altar as we come to one and all to receive the same Lord Jesus, the same bread of Life, of the One God who has come in order to give back to creation trust, to give faith. In bread broken and wine poured God does what he has continued to do from the beginning redeem, restore, and renew His creation. To be the one God that we alone worship and adore, not money or mammon, and not ourselves or our hurts. To draw us all together, when we would rather avoid or pull ourselves apart, into one communion in His life. At the table of our Lord, we are made by Christ and the Spirit to trust in God alone, to look to Him alone, and to expect Him to give us only good things. Because He does and He is good. He alone gives us every good thing and by Him we are delivered from all evil. He does this all to recreate our trust. Our trust in Him and by God’s grace and forgiveness restore and renew our trust in one another. So that here and now we can learn to have trust in the little things, so that we may be trusted with much. That we might be found worthy of the earthly things and be entrusted with the true riches of the Kingdom, peace, joy, love, forgiveness, grace and mercy, as individuals and also as a parish. For that is the true life of the Kingdom here and now and in the Kingdom for which we all desperately wait for to come. Gathered around the throne of God with one voice singing Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory Hosanna in the highest!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.