Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (C), September 18, 2016 - Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 and Luke 16:1-13

Rembrandt: Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem (1630)
Rijksmuseum (Netherlands)
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

How Make the Wounded Whole

The hymn says there's a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
But Jeremiah wasn't there - for grief,
When real, demands the toll
That no assurances can e'er assuage;
And thus, his tears long flowed.
He knew that their disaster was their fault,
And yet his crying showed
That empathy comes from above,
Which, through the years, we still call love.

Scott L. Barton

My joy is gone, grief is upon me, 
my heart is sick.
Hark, the cry of my poor people 
from far and wide in the land: 
"Is the LORD not in Zion?
Is her King not in her?" 
("Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, 
with their foreign idols?")
"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, 
and we are not saved."
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, 
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.

Is there no balm in Gilead? 

Is there no physician there? 
Why then has the health of my poor people 
not been restored?

O that my head were a spring of water, 

and my eyes a fountain of tears, 
so that I might weep day and night
for the slain of my poor people!

+  +  +

Luke 16:1-13

Funny Grace

The steward is a funny guy:
Quick-thinking, smart and very spry!
He finds a way to save his skin
By bringing all the debtors in,
And makes them happy - and what's more -
This steward really knows the score,
Since gen'rous will his master seem
To all the town; and now, redeemed
From grudging Daddy Warbucks fame,
All people will extol his name!
So while I still am puzzled by
The word, "dishonest," Jesus tries,
Still now, he calls us all to dare
Believe that nothing will impair
God's wish that we be reconciled!
Much like a father and his child,
Or debtors and the man who's rich,
These prodigals can help us switch
From thinking grace we understand,
To knowing grace we can't withstand.

Scott L. Barton

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. 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; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 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.

“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. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 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.”

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