O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alleluia. Blessed are those who fear the Lord
and have great delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land,
a generation of the faithful that will be blest.
Wealth and riches will be in their house,
and their righteousness endures for ever.
Light shines in the darkness for the upright;
gracious and full of compassion are the righteous.
It goes well with those who are generous in lending
and order their affairs with justice,
For they will never be shaken;
the righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance.
They will not be afraid of any evil tidings;
their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their heart is sustained and will not fear,
until they see the downfall of their foes.
They have given freely to the poor;
their righteousness stands fast for ever;
their head will be exalted with honour.
The wicked shall see it and be angry;
they shall gnash their teeth in despair;
the desire of the wicked shall perish.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 16.9-15
Jesus said to the disciples, ‘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.’
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.’
Throughout these days of national pandemic there has been much talk of wealth. The government, recognizing the difficulties that lay ahead, set aside their fiscal plans and sought to anticipate the relief that might be needed. This is not a political statement, but rather a statement of what governments have done throughout the world. Of course, no single government can be seen as having got it ‘right’. Lockdowns, whether on a national or local level, will cause hardship through the undermining of businesses and the generation of higher levels of unemployment. So … the question is now being raised as to whether there should ever have been a lockdown at all. The scientific and medical advice appears to have been overshadowed by the economic crises that seem to be growing on a daily basis. So … what does all this have to do with today’s reading from Luke’s gospel?
Tucked in this reading is a very well known phrase: You cannot serve God and wealth. Luke tells us that the Pharisees … were lovers of money and that they ridiculed him for his teaching on the nature of true riches. How are we different from those Pharisees? Our televisions have so many programmes that revolve around the acquisition of worldly wealth whether through games of chance or lucky investment; whether through shrewd financial investment or informed speculation; whether through honest or through borderline-dishonest means. So many of the decisions we make on a daily basis centre around financial value, whether it is in terms of actual money or in terms of the value we attach to the time we spend pursuing our own ends. So, I ask again, how are we different from those Pharisees, those lovers of money?
Of course, even faith communities are not exempt from their exaggerated interest in financial wealth. No, it is not true that the Church is rolling in money and does not need our support as it seeks to further God’s mission. But, the money it does have is generally entailed in historic property and other assets and, therefore, has no cash value unless we relegate it to its rightful place. Wealth, whether personal, national or ecclesiastical should be devoted to the furthering of God’s mission, it should not be hidden and hoarded in a way that leads us to be dishonest, not only with each other, but with God himself.
You cannot serve God and wealth. As we continue to travel through these uncertain times, let us make that our motto. Let us make that the doctrine that drives us further along the path God has laid for us all.
Prayers of Intercession
We pray for God’s faithfulness to be known in our world.
Faithful God, glorify your name.
In a world of change and hope, of fear and adventure;
faithful God, glorify your name.
In human rebellion and obedience, in our seeking and our finding; faithful God, glorify your name.
In the common life of our society, in prosperity and need;
faithful God, glorify your name.
As your Church proclaims your goodness in words and action; faithful God , glorify your name.
Among our friends and in our homes; faithful God, glorify your name.
In our times of joy, in our days of sorrow; faithful God, glorify your name.
In our strengths and triumphs, in our weakness and at our death; faithful God, glorify your name.
In your saints in glory and on the day of Christ’s coming; faithful God, glorify your name.
Prayer for the week
we praise and bless your holy name
for your saints of every time and place
who have served you faithfully in their generation
and have enriched the world by their lives,
their witness and their example.
Help us, by your grace, to follow them
as they followed Christ,
that with them we may be partakers of your everlasting joy;
through the merits of Jesus our Saviour and our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Restore in us, O God,
the splendour of your love;
renew your image in our hearts,
and all our sins remove.
O Spirit, wake in us
the wonder of your power;
from fruitless fear unfurl our lives
like springtime bud and flower.
Bring us, O Christ, to share
the fullness of your joy;
baptise us in the risen life
that death cannot destroy.
Three-personed God, fulfil
the promise of your grace,
that we, when all our searching ends,
may see you face to face.
Carl P. Daw, Jr (b. 1944)