Tag Archives: Stewardship

Bad religion (8 November 2015, Year B)

Ruth 3.1–5; 4.13–17
Mark 12.38–44

…spiritual brokenness affects our lives and the lives of others. We have found, however, that God is eager to bless us even in our spiritual brokenness. (from Soul Repair)

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

That’s the opening line of a 1953 novel called The Go-Between. It’s a brilliant opening line for a novel and for a sermon. We must always remember when we read the scriptures that the past is a foreign country. They did things differently there. We’re going to see that as we look at our scripture passages today.

Firstly, widows: in an age with no social security, no pension, they could be in a precarious position.

The readings for this week and last draw our attention to the plight of widows in biblical times. We have Naomi and Ruth, husbandless and childless, forced to eke out a living gleaning grain from the fields that hadn’t been gathered by the men working there; and also forced to plot and plan to ensure that Boaz noticed Ruth. This is more than a romantic story; it is a matter of life and death for Ruth and Naomi.

And in today’s Gospel Reading, we have the widow who had fallen on hard times, whose offering is two small coins, each worth only about six minutes’ work. Her offering is practically worthless. But it was all she had.

And don’t forget that last week we heard Psalm 146, which proclaims that

The Lord keeps faith for ever,
giving food to the hungry,
justice to the poor,
freedom to captives…
comforting widows and orphans,
protecting the stranger…

The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments proclaim that God seeks justice for the widow, the orphan and all who are being failed by the society they live in. Continue reading

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The things that belong to God: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, 16 October, 2011)

The things that belong to God

1 Thessalonians 1.1-10
Matthew 22.15-22


Last week, we pondered Paul’s words from the latter to the Philippian church:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Recall that things were pretty hot for Paul when he wrote these words: he was in jail. and he didn’t know whether he’d live or die.

Things are heating up for Jesus in our reading today. Jesus is in the last week of his life, the week we call Holy Week. He has entered Jerusalem on a donkey; he has driven the money-changers out of the Temple. He is a ‘person of interest’ to the authorities, and they are trying to bring him down.

That’s why, in today’s reading, the Pharisees and the Herodians come together to trap Jesus. Now they are very strange bedfellows indeed… The Pharisees were actually quite a popular and well-respected religious group who stood up for righteousness and obedience to the law. They couldn’t stand the Herodians; it seems the Herodians were aristocrats who were in cahoots with the Roman occupiers and who thought nothing of plotting and scheming to gain advantage for themselves.

The Pharisees and the Herodians joining forces would be like Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott joining together to bury the hatchet in a third person’s back rather than in each other’s. It just didn’t happen.

So the Pharisees and Herodians, these natural enemies, unite against Jesus. He must have posed a real threat to them.

And they have a beauty of a question. A real poser. However Jesus answered, they’d have him. Or so they thought.

Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?

Gotcha Jesus! Let’s see you get out of that one…

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C: 29 August 2010)

With glad and generous hearts

A Sermon on Stewardship

Hebrews 13.1-8, 15-16
Luke 14.1, 7-14

We’ve reached the final week of our series on Mission and Stewardship. In our series, we’ve heard that the Church is here for the benefit of those outside, not for the benefit of its members. But we’ve also said that the Church is here to benefit us in one way: that is to meet our truest need, the need to become disciples of Jesus, the need we have to be made more like him.

We’ve also heard that the life of discipleship opens us up to the abundant life that Jesus promises.

We’re talking about stewardship today. Perhaps you haven’t realised it, but we’ve been talking about stewardship already. Stewardship is about being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Disciples of Jesus are good stewards of their time, talents and treasure. And by doing that, they live the abundant life that Jesus promises.

A minister had served a church for a few months in an interim position. During the last Sunday service that he was to spend at the church, his hat was passed around for a freewill offering.

When it returned to the minister, it was empty. He didn’t flinch or hesitate. He raised his hat to heaven and said, ‘I thank you, Lord, that I got my hat back from this congregation.’

Were the people in this story good stewards? Maybe they were. But I’d guess they were terrible stewards. Why might I think they weren’t good stewards? I think it’s because they hung onto things instead of sharing them.

Stewardship is about generosity, it’s about being a generous disciple. Stewardship is about using our time, talents and money generously, abundantly. A good steward is not afraid to give of themselves in sacrificial ways. Continue reading

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