Sermon From September 22nd 2013 / “Jesus & Money”
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Luke 16: 1-15 / Sunday September 22nd 2013.
[Jesus] also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management 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 removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed [Jesus]. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God."
(Luke 16:1-15 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. How quickly we become distracted in life, many things distract us from what is needful and what is eternal. Take money for instance. Money is “the most [commonly worshiped thing] on earth. He who has money and possessions feels secure [Luke 12:16-21] and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of paradise. On the other hand he who has no money doubts and is despondent, as though he knew of no God. Very few people can be found who are [cheerful, who don't mourn or complain if they lack money]. This [concern, this] desire for money sticks and clings to [us], right up to the grave” These words are from Martin Luther, he wrote them in the Large Catechism and they are as true today as they were then. Martin didn't come up with this idea he is simply repeating the warnings of Jesus in our Gospel: “You cannot serve God and money.”
Money is a distraction. It really is. It is only needed in this life and even then you often need less than you think you need. In the last week we have had many members who have died and all of these your brothers and sisters in Christ have no need for it anymore. They have no need for money anymore. As baptised children of God who are now in Jesus' hand awaiting the last day and the final judgment, they are in fact free from the distraction of money. They have but one Master to serve and that Master is Jesus. They now live in peace.
Jesus says, "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." What rules you life? Is it something or someone other than God? Is there a secret tug of war in your heart, or is it not so secret, is it out there for everyone one to see. Are you struggling against competing interests? Are you frequently distracted from the treasure that will never fade, are you constantly being pulled away from the good gifts of God by less important things, by your rusty old bucket of a bank account, by the moth eaten wardrobe in your closet, by the chipped chinaware in your cupboard, by the dusty old tools in your garage, by the shifting basement of your house, by the rising coast of your condo fees, by this ... by that ... by anything and everything ... by you name it. Does this distraction drive you to envy what others have, to covet the wealth of kings and neighbours, or does it make you anxious that someone might be eyeing your stuff, your house, your property, that they may be plotting to steal what 'belongs' to you? Does it drive you to lose trust in God and fear poverty and suffering. Does the mail that arrives in your mail box give you anxiety? Are you maxed out and angry with yourself?
Has money or the lack there of left you feeling lost?
Has money or the lack there of left you feeling lost? You are not lost, you are here. Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd, seeks His lost sheep and brings them home, and here you are in your true Masters house: And your Master knows your heart, every wart and wrinkle in it, every blemish and spot, He knows that your blood is poisoned and that your heart needs His blood to pump in it. The Blood He shed upon the cross, the blood he gives you in Holy Communion, the Blood that washes away your sin in the waters of baptism, the blood that covers you in Jesus' righteousness, and perfection.
Soon will be the end of the Year and the beginning of a new Church year and as the year ends we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, we think on Jesus in His splendour and we acknowledge Him as King over all. As the King of kings and LORD of Lords. Even in the midst of all this we remember how He took the lowest seat, the seat of the cross so that we would have the Highest seat - eternal life and a place with Him in paradise. There was no lower seat to take apart from the cross. And He took it. He lived a modest life and Jesus Himself said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Christ laid aside His crown for [your] soul. He laid aside the majesty of heaven for your soul. He did all this trusting that His Father in heaven would bring Him through. Through the cross, through the grave, back through death to life. Jesus had faith in the face of every distraction. And where we lack in faith, Jesus was and is faithful, where we fall to the temptation of money Jesus resisted the temptation for wealth and riches, He even resisted the distraction of taking earthly glory. He rejected the temptation to kneel to any Master but His heavenly Father. Jesus didn't serve two masters.
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
And [the devil] took [Jesus] to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning You,
to guard You,’ and
“‘On their hands they will bear You up,
lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered [the devil], “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time."
What is the bread that is better than a stone made into bread? Jesus says "I Am the bread of life" He comes to you in the bread today with His promised presence, Jesus is the Word of God and today you will eat that Word in Holy Communion. He will attend to your needs in the meal, a meal that He bought for you not with silver or gold but with His precious unblemished blood.
What authority and glory is better than the fading crown of earthly power? James says, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James also says "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church [the pastors], and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." No money can buy the blessed anointing that crowns the heads of God's Saints: Remember your baptism, in baptism you are crowned and anointed as heirs of heaven, the loved brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus, God's Son.
What security is better than to trust in the Lord? It is better to trust in the Lord than in mankind, it is better to hope in the Lord than to trust in princes; for His mercy, the mercy of the Lord Almighty, endures forever. What can you pay to keep your body from death? There is no money that can keep you alive for eternity. Eternal life is a gift from God, a gift given to you by Jesus.
I was blessed to administer Holy Communion to three of the recently departed members of Mount Olive at my last visit with them. Evelyn Paisig died on September 17th, with vicar James at my side we communed on September 13th; Albert Middelkamp died on September 16th, with vicar James at my side we communed on September 13th; Edna Woolheather died on September 19th, with vicar James at my side we communed on September 18th. In each of these cases it was the last time I laid eyes on them alive. In each of these cases I told them that I would see them again, and by the Love of God, by the mercy of God, I will see them again and so will you. Laura Lanmaier died on September 16th and just days before, when I saw her for the last time, she was not able to receive Holy communion but along with Evelyn and Albert and Edna she too was reminded of her baptism and anointed with oil, she received the blessing of God that we receive at the end of most every church service here in this place. "the Lord Bless you and keep you, The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, The Lord look upon you with favour and give you peace" I could tell you more because we have had many deaths in the last number of weeks but today think on these. Albert's granddaughter e-mailed me with these words, "I am grateful that you were able to give grandpa holy communion ... receiving a final communion was hugely important." she talked of how it was a comfort to know that he received Holy Communion when he did and that she believed "that it allowed him to pass peacefully."
Where these communions their last communions? Was the anointing they received the last crowing of glory they shall receive? Is the purpose of their baptism fulfilled in death? Did money do anything to save them? No, No, No, No and No. They are with us this day along with all those who died in the Christian faith as we raise our voices together with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, as we share in Holy Communion, the whole body of Christ together in the meal. They have received their promised crown of glory, they now wear the eternal robe of righteousness, along with all the blessed departed who died in the faith. No money saved them, that stingy and miserly master couldn't lift a finger to save them, Christ Jesus the other, the better, the victorious and everlastingly generous Master, He and He alone has redeemed them. He and He alone redeems you, And because He served His Father perfectly you have forgiveness for when you are distracted, when you are pulled between Him and the masters of this fallen world. Because He resisted the temptations of earthly and temporary bread, money, wealth, authority, and glory you now have eternal bread, and a "treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." You now have glory in Him, the likes of which the world cannot understand. I kneel at your bedside, I stand over your remains as over the body of a king, a queen, a king who's King is Christ Jesus, a queen who's King is Christ Jesus. You are rich beyond your wildest dreams, all the money of this world is but a shadow that vanishes in the light of the last Day.
I am the sheep that was lost,
save me: You have saved me.
You have fashioned me out of nothingness,
lead me back to be refashioned,
though I bear the scars of my stumbling,
have compassion on me,
the work of Your hands O Lord.
Cleans me through Your loving kindness
and the homeland of my heart's desire
bestow on me
by making me a citizen of paradise,
O Lord You have washed me in the blood of Christ Your Son,
You have promised rest to Your servants.
From the hard cross You have appointed
for me a place in paradise
where the choirs of the saints and the justified shine forth like stars.
Shine with Your love upon me."
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning
is now and will be forever.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader's Edition of The Book of Concord: Part I. The Ten Commandments, Concordia Publishing House (2006), pg 489.
 Luke 16:13
 Luke 9:58
 Lutheran Service Book "What Wondrous Love is This" Hymn # 543, verse 2.
 Luke 4:1-13
 John 6:48
 1 Peter 1:18-19
 James 1:12
 James 5:14
 Romans 12:5
 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
 Matthew 6:20
 John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
 John 14:6
 Luke 15:1-7
 Psalm 139:13
 Revelation 21:5
 Daniel 12:3
 Adapted from a Greek Orthodox Funeral liturgy with roots in Byzantine Christian Chant.