Year C Proper 19 Luke 15
Seeking the Lost
Luke 15:1-10

The Gospel reading begins with these words: Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:1-2)

That is the framework for all that follows in chapter fifteen: the story of a shepherd and his sheep, of a widow and her coins, of a man and his two sons. It is important to remember the situation which prompted Jesus to tell these stories and to ask - "whom do I identify with in this situation?" That's what we do when we read a novel or watch a movie. We tend to identify with someone in it. So, which group or character do you identify with in today's gospel reading?

With Jesus, the good guy, who tries to straighten out the religious folks? Who calls into question all they believe? Who reaches out and loves everyone, especially the most unloved? With the Pharisees, the ones who rightly saw the dangers of too close an association with the "wrong crowd." For what parent has not worried about a child falling in with the "wrong crowd"? But here the Pharisees go beyond looking out for people. They are convinced that they and they alone understand God and man's relationship to Him. They are right and no one else.

With the tax collectors and sinners, those traitors, the tax collectors who worked for the Romans, robbing their own people? With the sinners, the people of the land who never attended synagogue and seemed to lack even basic morality?

  1. Which one are you?
  2. What ought we to do?

Compound Interest Your Life
Luke 15:1-10

Albert Einstein is noted for his work in the field of physics. That's where he got his Nobel Prize in 1921. But one of his most famous quotes is one that appears to have nothing to do with physics. Einstein is reported to have said, when asked what is the most powerful force in the universe,

"The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest."

What is "the secret of life?" When asked that question at a men's retreat, "Mike," a successful entrepreneur whose start-up company went public, making him very wealthy very young, smiled confidently and replied without hesitation: "compound interest. Compound Interest is the 8th Wonder of the World."

"Mike" wasn't just a rich man gloating over his gold. "Mike" has used his personal wealth to lavishly fund "orphan disease" medical research (money for deadly diseases that were not well known or widespread). He has built a series of Christian schools in rural areas. And he supports his community in multitudes of silent ways. But "Mike" knew he would never have to worry about "making" money again, only giving money away, because his wealth was "making" it for him through the monetary magic of compound interest. For "Mike," compound interest was the secret of an unself-interest life, a "Jesus is Lord" life. For Mike compound interest is about giving more, not getting more.

Compound Interest occurs when interest added to the principal itself earns interest. Here is the magic formula for compound interest

A = P (1 + r/n)nt

P = Principal
r = annual rate of interest (as a decimal)
t = number of years
A = amount of money accumulated, including interest.
n = number of times interest is compounded per year

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist tribe, organized that formula into a working prescription for a compound interest life:

Make all you can.
Save all you can.
Give all you can.

For example, if you were to plan ahead for your church or charity, and wanted to provide them an annuity, you could set aside $10 weekly. At 10% interest, that would amount to a gift of $3,370 in 5 years, and a gift of $99,149 in 30 years. That's the power of compound interest.

Some of you are giving to the church $20/week. If you were to put that same amount of money aside for your church as a gift in your will, that $20 weekly at 10% interest amount to $6,740 in 5 years and $198,298 in 30 years. That's the power of compound interest.

Or if you were to set aside $50 weekly at 10% interest, that amounts to $16,850 in 5 years, or $495,746 in 30 years. That's the power of compound interest.

Jesus preached his own form of compound interest. In fact, for him compound interest was the secret to a holy life... presents Leonard Sweet