Does anyone claim this week’s parable as their favorite? I would be surprised. It is difficult to discern why Jesus would praise the devious actions of a person who cheated his employer. Though, on the other hand, the character in the parable is a slave, and he is cheating the slave owner. Maybe it’s helpful to finally see Jesus offer something resembling a challenge to the institution of slavery.
See the Working Preacher commentary by the Rev. Dr. Mitzi J. Smith for more on this week’s Gospel passage, and contextualization that is particularly helpful for communities in the USA.
If you’re preaching the Revised Common Lectionary this week, which passage or passages are you focusing on? Jeremiah 8 laments the pain of God’s people. Where are your people feeling pain? How do you see pain throughout the global church? Perhaps this lament can assure those who are suffering that they are not alone. But how does that help to heal their pain? Psalm 79, paired with the Jeremiah reading, doesn’t exactly make things better. It speaks of the desecration of the Temple and the wrath of God. This Psalm also includes an appeal to God for compassion and forgiveness. Can this glimmer of hope resonate with your community?
Amos 8 is also full of judgment for those who take advantage of people who are needy, and promises the wrath of God on anyone who does so. In contrast, Psalm 113 sings praises to God, who lifts up the poor and outcast. On second thought, maybe these readings are complimentary. Our God judges those who oppress others, while lifting up the lowly (as in the Magnificat).
1 Timothy 2 is complicated. Paul (or someone writing in his name) asks for prayers and thanksgiving for all people. Then the author brings world leaders into the equation. And by mentioning Jesus right after the naming of powerful world leaders, Paul seems to imply that the one is acting on behalf of the other. How do you deal with that dynamic in your congregation? Will your folks want you to tout patriotism from the pulpit, or will they rejoice if you reject it?
Regardless of your approach to this week’s texts, welcome to the conversation. Please share your thoughts and questions below. Blessings in your preaching and leadership this week!
Katya Ouchakof lives in Madison, WI, USA, where she is a hospital chaplain and paddlesports professional. Katya enjoys knitting and playing board games with her husband. She posts less often than she would like at revkatyawrites.com.
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