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.

working business money coins
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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).

IMG_09791 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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11 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Dishonest Ethics?

  1. For me, there is a paradox involved – The owner fires the manager for doing a bad job but praises him for what he does next. This would suggest that what the manager was doing was wrong to begin with. But as I have only the back page of the my church’s bulletin for expressing my thoughts, I look at the fact that the manager was being creative in his work and that Jesus speaks of using our creativity in a positive manner.

    I hope to coalesce these thoughts and have them posted in the next day or two.

    For me, the conditions for creativity are very similar to the conditions for prayer (a regular time and no distractions). Paul is reminding Timothy to set aside time for prayer; Jeremiah speaks of getting away from the world.

    But I am also reminded that when the conditions of the world are like they are now, it is very difficult to set aside time and a place. So we must be attuned to the world around us and correct those things that might distract us.

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    1. An intentional time for prayer and retreat for the world can be both rewarding and difficult to accomplish. Thank you for the reminder that Scripture reminds us over and over again to take a time out!

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  2. I’ve never preached on the parable of the dishonest steward. I tried to talk myself into it as a personal challenge this time around in the lectionary. Read a commentary in Feasting on the Word by my beloved NT professor Charles Cousar, who said in effect, we will understand this one when faith becomes sight. Gee, thanks, Dr. Cousar! He now resides in the Father’s house, so I hope faith has become sight for him at last. Meanwhile, I bailed and decided to go with Jeremiah — a sermon for those days when happy, bubbly worship just doesn’t cut it for some of us.

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    1. Somehow the “it’s a mystery” explanation can become very frustrating! Preach what the Spirit is leading you to this week. There will be other weeks (years) to address this parable.

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  3. I’m knee deep in writing the sermon but the exegetical work and discussions with peers brought to the surface the shift in the managers perspective. A blind spot was corrected from focus on money/transaction/getting ahead to relationships/reciprocity/discomfort. I may add more to this thread if it’s helpful to the group. For now back to writing!

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    1. I’m starting my sermon with an illustration about doing favors for others, for the sake of your own self-interest (based on a book I just read and on the Gospel). Not sure where I’m going from there, though, because we generally don’t want to think of faith as a series of favors exchanged! Hoping that your sermon prep is coming along well and that you’ve come up with some answers to your questions.

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  4. I’ve been pondering this sermon all week, but I had another to preach earlier today and I discovered I couldn’t focus on tomorrow’s until the first one was done. Truth be told, I was hoping some of it could be used tomorrow, but in the end I don’t think so. Now I want nothing more than to nap and then watch the ballgame!
    Reading comments here and on FB has been helpful, as well as Working Preacher. I think I’ll start with admitting this parable is a confounding mess, then try to tease apart a few of the knots in it, and wrap up with something along the lines of being called to try to move in the direction of justice. But who knows? Maybe Jesus got telling this story and found himself a little mixed up too!
    Leftover tortellini soup and some slow cooker Mongolian beef at my house; dinner, anyone?

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