Year C Proper 20 Luke 16
Increasing Our Standard of Giving
Luke 16:1-13

Before John Wesley became the founder of the Methodist Church he was a teacher at Oxford University back in the 1700's. When he began his career he was paid 30 pounds per year - in those days a lot of money. His living expenses were 28 pounds - so he gave 2 pounds away.

The next year his income doubled - but he still managed to live on 28 pounds - so he gave away 32 pounds. The third year he earned 90 pounds - lived on 28 - and gave away 62. The fourth year he earned 120 pounds - lived on 28 - and gave away 92. One year his income was a little over 1,400 pounds - he lived on 30 and gave away nearly all of the 1,400 pounds.

Wesley felt that with increasing income, what should rise is not the Christian's standard of living but the standard of giving. Increasing our standard of giving. What a great Christian man and what a great lesson he taught us. It is the same lesson found in the parable for today. Let's take a look. The Pharisees are standing off to the side watching Jesus as was their custom. Jesus' disciples are listening intently as he tells his story. Probably on this occasion there were more than just the 12. A large number of followers are gathered around. He tells them about a steward who handled all the business affairs of a wealthy man. But the steward has squandered his master's money; he was reckless and wasteful. Notice that this story follows another story about a reckless young man who squandered his father's wealth, the prodigal son. But in this story the reckless young man does not come to his senses in time and he is fired from his job.

Then he does something so shrewd and conniving. As he is cleaning out his desk and clearing out his things he calls in his master's debtors, those who had outstanding accounts, and cut those debts in half. You owe 800 gallons of olive oil? Write me check for 400 and we will call it even. You owe a thousand bushels of wheat? Write me a check for 800 and we'll call it even. He forgives the debts that are not his to forgive, and he gains friends in the process. As a result his master commends him.

So what is Jesus' point? Well, there's not just one point there are a few. Let's take a look.

  1. First, He Explains the Wise Use of Worldly Wealth.
  2. Second, Trustworthiness Is Measured by Character.
  3. Third, Our Service Must Be Singular.

Peace and Quiet
1 Timothy 2:1-7

When you check into a Sheraton hotel room these days you have a new message you can hang on your doorknob to keep the housekeeper away. Instead of "Do Not Disturb" the message now reads "Peace and Quiet." The sign at Sheraton's more upscale sister, The Westin, simply reads "Peace."

People are not just looking to keep disruptions and disturbances at bay. They are looking to find something positive. They are searching in life for some "peace and quiet." Or if "quiet" is too much to ask, just some "Peace."

The Russian Orthodox church introduced a word which is now quite popular in a variety of Christian circles. The Russian word is poustinia, and it refers to a remote cabin or place for prayer, even a hermit's hut in the woods where you can encounter God in silence, serenity and peace. Who doesn't want one of these "poustinia," . . . . with bath and shower, of course, . . . . with hot meals available every day cooked by someone else, of course, . . . with the possibility of walking down daisy-strewn paths, maintained, of course, by someone else, . . . . where you can attend worship presided over by someone else, of course.

It is doubtful you'll find your "peace and quiet" poustinia in a sterile hotel room surrounded by the sounds of hundreds of other guests, electronics, elevators, street noises, and airplanes on their approach path. But the quest for somewhere and something that offers poustinia, that offers "peace and quiet" on demand is a dream that seems harder and harder to realize in a TGIF world.

TGIF: that is, a Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook culture. All those wonderful electronic connections that make it possible for us to stay in touch, stay on top, stay informed, stay current 24/7 also make it almost impossible to encounter "peace and quiet."

When you made your summer vacation plans, how important was it that wherever you were headed there was wi-fi available? Is there anything more pitiful than watching your teenage daughter discover she has left her cell phone re-charging at home? A dropped cell phone connection is now the direct cause of spikes in blood pressure.

The most endangered of our planet's great gifts is not the polar ice caps. It is not rare species like the black rhino or the big leaf mahogany. It is not a pristine aquifer or wilderness area. The most endangered gift the twenty-first century is eroding? It's the existence of "peace and quiet." It is precisely this promise of "Peace and Quiet" that the pastoral epistle of First Timothy promises. If you follow Jesus, you will find a way to "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity."

But what does "Peace and Quiet" really mean for the Christian? ... presents Leonard Sweet