Ordinary Time - Proper 20 (House Church 9.22.2019)

House Church 9.22.2019 // Proper 20 - Year C - Track 2: Amos 8:4-7, Psalm 113, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 16:1-13

*UPCOMING EVENTS*

ORDINARY TIME

Ordinary time refers to the two periods in the Church calendar that are not marked by a major church season (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost). The Ordinary time after Pentecost lasts until Advent. (Church calendar + Special days )

The Liturgy:    

 Grant us, Lord, freedom from anxiousness about unimportant things, and love for all things good that we might hold fast to that with permanence, Amen. 

Open Prayer


First Lesson - Amos 8:4-7

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

saying, "When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;

and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?

We will make the ephah small & the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances,

buying the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat."

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:

Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

The Response - Psalm 113

1 Hallelujah! Give praise, you servants of the Lord; praise the Name of the Lord.

2 Let the Name of the Lord be blessed,
from this time forth for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to its going down
let the Name of the Lord be praised.

4 The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the Lord our God, who sits enthroned on high but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?

6 He takes up the weak out of the dust
and lifts up the poor from the ashes.

7 He sets them with the princes,
with the princes of his people.

8 He makes the woman of a childless house
to be a joyful mother of children.

The Epistle - 1 Timothy 2:1-7

First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For

there is one God;

there is also one mediator
between God and humankind,

Christ Jesus, himself human,

who gave himself a ransom for all

- this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.  

The Gospel - Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Then the manager said to himself, `What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, `How much do you owe my master?' He answered, `A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, `Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Then he asked another, `And how much do you owe?' He replied, `A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill and make it eighty.' And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."


NOTES + THOUGHTS:

(by Brandon)

SCRIPTURE DISCUSSION: 

*Liturgy means “the work of the people.” We enter into this work when we enact the scriptures together by reading and discussing them and allowing our lives to be formed by Christ and each other. Like a potluck, we each bring something to the discussion, and there is always enough. 

  • Which passage jumped out at you the most? Why?

  • What thoughts / questions do you have?

  • What connections do you see between the readings + life?

  • What action or change do they invite?

  • Why was it included in the Bible?

  • Is there any disconnect between the narrators perspective and our perspective as modern readers?

First Lesson - Amos 8:4-7

“… Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land… I will never forget any of [your] deeds.”

Usually, when we consider grace, it is a personal consideration (i.e. can I really be forgiven for _____) and we tend to hope that grace is indeed sufficient to cover our mistakes, moral clumsiness, and transgressions. However, when we consider many sins of others - trampling on the poor and powerless, systemically dehumanizing classes and races, extortion and profiting on human suffering - we don’t want God / the universe to be overly gracious - we want those who perpetually engage in such hell-making to face some of their own hell. This tension is profound and important - it’s likely to be the engine of awakening and maturity if we can let it sit in us without superficially dismissing it because it gives us a headache. 

  • Discuss: When do you hope grace is quick? When would you like grace to delay a little?

  • Where do you feel the tension between grace and justice?

  • How does the cry for Justice and perpetual Divine grace and Love cause tension?

  • Imagine: How would America be different if Christians were known primarily for feeding the hungry, helping the afflicted and not pointing their finger in blame. 

The Response - Psalm 113

“… Who is like… our God, who sits enthroned on high but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth? He takes up the weak out of the dust  and lifts up the poor from the ashes.”

The Psalmist contrasts the bigness of God with the smallness of the oppressed - but makes the import observation that the “on high” God is the very one who stoops low to lift up the “poor from the ashes.” I would reframe the verse something like this: “Our God is the most Supremely Powerful God ever - BUT God uses God’s position and power to help the lowest.” It was a crazy concept then, and it remains sorta crazy now.

Discuss: Christians have often fixated on God’s power and also on gaining power, but seldom on God’s alignment with the powerless and also in setting advantage aside.

The Epistle - 1 Timothy 2:1-7

“… lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God…

This statement seems basic on the surface - be dignified and humble and just live your life without making a ruckus - and yet, one would struggle to find a biblical example of such a life. Most of the people, including Jesus, that we learn about in the Bible range from accidental trouble makers to full blown provocateurs. The meaning of this passage is either in its jarring equivocation of a sort of quiet Godliness that leaves out most of the saints, or in its mystery message that somehow is hidden is these proper words. 

  • What does it mean to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity”?

  • Is this what faithfulness looks like for everyone? (What would change if everyone was quiet and peaceable - is that necessarily better?)

  • How does this verse interact with the “greatness” and celebrity culture we live in?

The Gospel - Luke 16:1-13

“… There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property…” 

It’s easy to focus on the “Shrewd” manager - but what about the Rich man? He was rich and powerful and could fire his employees over rumors. And what about this Rich economy economy that gives some to much and others too litter and makes other slaves. Who cares about the shrewd in a word that has slaves? I wonder if that’s the point of this parable - the praise of the Rich and successful and powerful is not worth much - why not use your life to help others instead?

  • How might this week’s Gospel reading dialogue with the Timothy passage? What would the Shrewd manager and Paul say to each other over coffee?

  • Are we supposed to be shrewd?

  • If you wanted to “disarm” this passage so it wasn’t convicting for affluent Christians living in the suburbs, how could you do it?


Eucharist Invitation: 

This is the table of Christ. 
Here we remember God’s love + acceptance for humans. 
Here we remember our connection with all humankind. 
All are invited to come and eat
You who have much faith +  you who have little. 
You who have been here often + you who are new. 
You who have tried to follow + you who have failed.
Come, because Christ has invited us here together.

Jim’s Benediction:

Lord soften our hearts

to feel the unspoken pain of those around us.

Open our ears

to hear the silent cries of those afraid to speak out

help us to see and recognize

our greed, selfishness and pride

replace it with 

our giving, compassion and humility.  

Because our time on this earth is all we have

to show the love you desire us to show.