Ordinary 26 C – September 29, 2019

Luke 16:19-31

There were 2 business partners, who were a little shady. They died and went to hell…. The one was miserable, with feet in boiling water and flames about his head. But he knew that it would be even worse for his partner. But when he looked out,  there was his partner, and being served tea by a butler in tails. So when Satan was making his rounds, he pointed at them and asked why.
And Satan responded, Who are you to judge the butler’s punishment?

Ok. I changed the joke. Rather than the butler in tails, the original joke was a beautiful woman in a red dress sitting on the shady business man’s lap. It seems too offensive. Perhaps, you would prefer a politician, a lawyer, a stock broker. It does not matter, except that however we tell it, it probably should not be a person who represents the least of these. And, it just won’t do to tell the story so that it strikes too close to home. You may actually have a politician, lawyer, or broker sitting in the pew who will be offended. You may actually rely on these to pay for the budget, your budget. And the parable will already have many on edge. So, to misquote a line from the Matrix: if you like the woman in the red dress, I can help.

Chapter 16 is about money. Indeed, much of Luke-Acts is about money. BUT, both the ministry of Jesus and the burgeoning church are reliant on the generosity of people with possessions. There is a message here that needs to be heard, but I do not think that in the kingdom to come, the Lazaruses of the world will be waited upon hand and foot by the those who have possessions in the present age. As the great divide between us becomes set, the intolerant mindset pervades both sides.

Respected baseball umpire Bill Klem weighed more than 300 pounds. He was also flamboyant.  He invented the chest protector. Whenever he was behind the plate, he maintained control. Few dared challenge his calls.  But in one game things got out of hand. At the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied, with two outs and a runner on third. The pitcher hung a curve ball over the plate. The batter hit a shallow single just over the third baseman’s head. The left-fielder raced toward the ball, scooped it up, and made a one-bounce throw to home plate. The runner and the catcher collided at home plate in a cloud of dust. The players poured out of the dugouts screaming, “He’s safe!” and others yelling “He’s out!” Amid the confusion, Bill threw off his mask, held up his two massive arms, and shouted, “He ain’t nothin’ ’til I say he’s something!”

Have a great week – Laurin

Ordinary 18C – August 4, 2019

Luke 12:13-21

Phil’s barn burned down, and Susan, his wife, called the insurance company ...

Susan: We had that barn insured for fifty thousand and I want my money.

Agent: Whoa there just a minute, Susan; it doesn't work quite like that. We will ascertain the value of the old barn and provide you with a new one of comparable worth.

Susan, after a pause: I'd like to cancel the policy on my Phil.

The urge to dive deeply into politics sorely tempts the soul this morning. I shall not do that here. But more particularly, the urge to talk about how money politics has divided the Christian community is a reasonable take on our Lukan reading for this week. The text is, as many are, about relationship. Jesus is asked to resolve a family squabble…about money. Money is just such a wedge that divides and divides and divides. When we think about money, our thoughts are more, more, more, and the divisor gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

We think that stories like the Feeding of the 5000 are about multiplying blessing, but another way to think about them is that the divisor is quite small. Oh yeah, you think that the money is the numerator…is that the problem?

There is lots of great humor out there about Christians and their money. There needs to be a lot, because the topic is always so close to the readings, and particularly Luke. There is the man who insisted on being buried with his wealth, so his widow wrote him a check and put it in his hands as they closed the casket. Then there is the man who packed several suitcases full of gold bars so that he would have riches in heaven, only to find that the streets are paved with his treasure. And here is one to close:

Two friends met in the street. One looked sad and almost on the verge of tears. The other man said, "Hey my friend, how come you look like the whole world has caved in?"

      The sad fellow said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me 50-thousand dollars."

      "That's not bad at all...!" 

      "Hold on, I'm just getting started. Two weeks ago, a cousin I never knew kicked-the-bucket and left me 95-thousand, tax-free to boot."

      "Well, that's great! I'd like that."

      "Last week, my grandfather passed away. I inherited almost a million."

      "So why are so glum?"

      "This week - nothing!"

Have a great week – Laurin