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Printed service for 18th September 2022

Prepared by Rev. Geoffrey Scarlett

Welcome to worship! ‘Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne’

Let us worship him in the words of StF: 347…

Prayer: God our father, Thank you for your faithfulness to us.You have created us and sustained us.

You have given us freewill and, when we have used that freewill to go our ownselfish ways, you have not abandoned us.

Instead, you have helped us to repent, to find your forgiveness and to start again.Thank you for your gracious forgiveness for all our sins.You have promised to be with us in Jesus, and you have kept that promise.

You have promised to meet all our needs, and you have been true to your word.You have promised us the gift of your Holy Spirit, and have indeed sent Him to us,to guide, to strengthen and to give us faith, that we might be trustworthy too.

We worship and adore you in all your majesty and in all your might, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Special prayer: As we remember the death, just over a week ago, of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II,

Let us give thanks for the queen’s life and devoted service and especially her steadfast witness of her faith… let us pray for Charles and the rest of the family as they mourn the passing of the head of their family, that they receive God’s comfort and support… let us pray for Charles as he ascends to the throne as King Charles III, that he may be blessed with God’s wisdom and guidance, to become a worthy king and a true servant to his people. Through Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn StF: 250 Jesus calls us o’er the tumult Of our life’s wild restless sea

Lesson, OT: Jeremiah 8,18- 9,1

My sorrow cannot be healed; I am sick at heart. Listen. Throughout the land I hear my

people crying out, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion? Is Zion’s king no longer there?’

The Lord, their king, replies,’ Why have you made me angry by worshipping your idols

and by bowing down to your useless foreign gods?. The people cry out, ’The summer is

gone, the harvest is over, but we have not been saved’. My heart has been crushed,

because my people are crushed; I mourn; I am completely dismayed. Is there no

medicine in Gilead? Are there no doctors there? Why then have my people not been

healed?

I wish my head were a well of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I could

cry day and night for my people who have been killed’.

StF: 254 Seek ye first the kingdom of God

Lesson, NT: Luke 16, 1-13

16 Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a servant who managed his property. The rich man was told that the manager was wasting his master’s money, so he called him in and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in a complete account of your handling of my property, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ The servant said to himself, ‘My master is going to dismiss me from my job. What shall I do? I am not strong enough to dig ditches, and I am ashamed to beg. Now I know what I will do! Then when my job is gone, I shall have friends who will welcome me in their homes.’ So he called in all the people who were in debt to his master. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ ‘One hundred barrels of olive oil,’ he answered. ‘Here is your account,’ the manager told him; ‘sit down and write fifty.’ Then he asked another one, ‘And you—how much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he answered. ‘Here is your account,’ the manager told him; ‘write eight hundred.’ As a result the master of this dishonest manager praised him for doing such a shrewd thing; because the people of this world are much more shrewd in handling their affairs than the people who belong to the light.”

And Jesus went on to say, “And so I tell you: make friends for yourselves with worldly wealth, so that when it gives out, you will be welcomed in the eternal home. 10 Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones. 11 If, then, you have not been faithful in handling worldly wealth, how can you be trusted with true wealth? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what belongs to you?

13 “No servant can be the slave of two masters; such a slave will hate one and love the other or will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Sermon: The Dishonest Manager

1.ADMIRABLE?

Have you ever heard of a daring and spectacular bank robbery and felt admiration for the culprits?

( Perhaps a little envious too!). You learn of the clever way it’s been carried out, the patience in the organising, the ingenuity in the carrying out – and you can’t help marvelling at how well it was done and admiring the whole scheme and those who carried it through. Although, if injury or death is involved, any admiration quickly turns to anger and disgust. You want those responsible to be hunted down and brought to justice. But perhaps here a little admiration can be allowed!

2. STORY OF WASTEFULNESS

Jesus tells this story of a shrewd manager, who looks after a rich man’s property. But the rich man hears that the manager has been wasting his money. He confronts the wastrel: ‘What’s this I hear about you? Hand me a full account of how you’ve looked after my property!’. A full audit is called for. The owner accepts the accusation that’s been made and tells the manager he’s to be dismissed. At this point wastefulness turns to dishonesty – the manager is forewarned and begins a damage-limitation exercise.

3. THE SCHEME

The manager wonders what to do. He admits he’s not strong enough for manual labour and he’s too proud to beg. Ah! But he reckons he can create useful friendships with his master’s debtors. He summons two of them to him – and no doubt many others too. He gets them to write down a reduced figure for their debt. No doubt they’re delighted! How does he manage that? Huge discounts of 50% and 20%? Has he cut out his inflated commission or excessive interest or simply chosen a hefty figure for a discount? Who knows? As far as the debtors are concerned, who cares? If word spreads about this and the owner is assumed to have sanctioned it and so gains a good reputation, is he really going to go back on it, with all the consequences that will involve? No wonder he chooses to praise his clever manager!

But what’s the aim of it all? To ingratiate himself with his master’s clients, so that they’ll welcome him, when he’s kicked out on his ear! After all, if he does them a favour, they’re duty bound to do him one in return. They probably aren’t going to hire him themselves, but they might help him find another job or at least show him hospitality.

4. CAUSE FOR PRAISE

Now we come to the tricky part of the parable! Verse 9 in the Good News version has Jesus saying:

‘.. make friends for yourselves with worldly wealth, so that when it gives out, you will be welcomed in the eternal home’. He seems to be echoing the praise given by the master in the previous verse.

I don’t accept for one moment that Jesus is praising dishonesty, so what is he getting at?

I find the version in The Message more helpful. Here is what it says: ‘The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way – but for what is right – using every adversity to

stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate … on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live…’

Jesus is saying,’ You could learn from that manager!’ Yes, but what?

Firstly, he recognises where he is now, but he also looks to the future. We need to appreciate where we are in our spiritual journey, but also to look ahead to our eternal home!

Secondly, he knows the kind of world he’s living in. He’s a realist. We need to be realistic about our world, but more so to be realistic about the power of the Holy Spirit, what we can become and accomplish with Jesus’ help.

Thirdly, he focuses on his priorities. So must we, but what are our priorities?

Fourthly, he uses the resources at his disposal for his own selfish ends. We are to use all the resources, the gifts and graces given to us by God, for his divine purposes – the building up of his kingdom, the giving of help to needy neighbours.

Fifthly, in all this the manager shows a shrewd wisdom. We too need to develop wisdom – wisdom about the things of God, wisdom to deal with today’s world and shape it into God’s kingdom!

5. FAITHFULNESS

Jesus goes on to urge us to be faithful in small matters, so that we can become faithful in large matters. Being dishonest or untrustworthy leads us nowhere. We began with a parable, that is squeezed between two other parables: that of the Prodigal Son and that of the Rich Man and Lazarus. In all these, money is a problem. So Jesus’ parting shot is to remind us that we cannot serve both God and Money (Mammon). If you try that, you’ll end up loving one and hating the other, or being loyal to one and despising the other. Money is not bad in itself, but it becomes bad, if you let it master you! It can stop you being a loyal servant of God. If you’re not careful, it can make you turn on God and hate him! So use money – which is just one of God’s good gifts – to serve his purposes, so that God, knowing how wisely you use his resources, will welcome you finally into his eternal home!

Hymn StF: 491 As servants working an estate whose owner is away

Intercessions: Lord Jesus, whom shall we trust, if not you?

You healed people, and give us the gift of healing to use in our world today. We pray for those we know need healing. Help us to believe, even when the healing we ask for does not come.

You taught people, and urge us to speak with honesty and integrity today. We pray for the communicators of our world, that they may have the wisdom and courage to speak the truth in love.

You sacrificed yourself on a Cross for our redemption, and bless the sacrifices we make today.

We pray for all who, in their personal lives and at work, make sacrifices for others.

You offered your disciples your own peace, and still offer that same peace to us today. We lay before you our world in all its selfishness and violence, confusion and uncertainty. Lead us out of darkness into light, and revive your Church to be a beacon of hope in the bleakness of the world’s despair. For the final victory is yours. You love us and keep us safe in your everlasting arms. Amen.

Hymn StF: 566 Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to thee


The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us now and always. Amen.