Tuesday, September 18, 2007

tricky parables

Our reading this week gives us another of Jesus' parables. Another tricky one.

In this week's passage from Luke, Jesus tells a story about a conniving businessman. Not the evil CEO, but perhaps someone in upper management... Know he's going to get fired, he fixes up meetings with folks who owe money to the big guy. And forgives their debts. Now, though he's still about to be fired, he'll have some friends.

The question is, why is Jesus telling this story about shady business dealings?

He doesn't end it with a tale of this corrupt man wailing and gnashing his teeth.

Instead, he seems to be suggesting that if clever, selfish people can figure out how to live with a longer view than their present circumstances, and do things that secure their future, why can't we? (Not that we should swindle, but that we should be able to look to a bigger picture and a longer view of what matters.)

Luke puts some instructions at the conclusion of this story: that we cannot serve God and money. The old-school word used for "money" in some English translation is "mammon," as in the name of the street Mr. Burns resides on in the Simpsons world.
This week, I'm caught on the idea that this story isn't primarily about those really-awful greedy people (like Mr. Burns). The parable was about middle management. Or, perhaps even more accessibly, a "servant." It's about us, and how we use what we have to create the world we want to live in.

And, ideally, it's also the world God wants us to live in.

To get there, I think we need each other. As companions who matter, not just as potential assets when we're in need.

A friend in seminary reminded me that "companion" is derived from words that mean "together with bread." (That's pane, and in fancy shops that sell bread like "Con Pane" or "Panera.")

This is exactly what we do when we gather in worship: we seek to be people who see themselves together and share bread.

(Of course, we think it's much more than bread--it's also the body of Christ.)

Know that you're welcome to share bread and life with us.

See you Sunday...

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