It’s a rich man’s world

Faith and money

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 24th November 2019

East window of Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield.
The east window at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, lower panel.

A slightly warmer, slightly drier morning than some this week and neither of us were involved in the service this week other than being in the congregation, so my wife and I had time for a breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches before a stroll down to church arriving in time for the service to begin.

The last in our series on Going for God, Faith and money was this week’s theme and sermon, although the Sunday before Advent also is the feast of Christ the King was mentioned early on and liturgy to be joined in with projected on our screens had a crown emblem at the bottom.

The sermon: John, a retired former minister, said this: Most families have difficulty talking about money yet the Bible talks frequently about money. There were a number of quotes from various people from the Church fathers and John Weseley to Bob Dylan, including one theologian who said that when we steal someone’s coat it is called theft, but when we fail to give someone who needs it then it is also theft. There was a great visual reference in the East window of the church, shows panels to illustrate Jesus saying, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

It would have been a great visual reference if John had mentioned it, but he didn’t, but he did reference the previous parable of Jesus in Matthew chapter 25, the Parable of the Talents. The problem with the man with only one talent was that he had done nothing with it.

The sermon was on Luke 16: 1–13. Not an easy text to preach on we were told, with examples of how wide-ranging the different opinions on the text are.

But back to what Jesus said. Elsewhere he says, “Where your treasure is your heart, is also.” and, “It is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Isaiah said we should give money to the poor and share possessions.

We have a dual challenge, of challenging the rich in how they use their money and also to have a concern to the poor. Scripture is full of God’s concern to the poor, both through the prophets of the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

Why did Jesus ask us to emulate a dishonest manager? Is Jesus affirming that sort of behaviour?

  • He was only a manager
  • He was concerned in lining his own pockets.

Tom Wright has said that Pharisees who loved wealth were listening. The manager is Israel and the money given back were additions to the ten commandments of God’s law. Jesus was saying that Israel should let go of additions to the commandments. It advises us to sit light on the extra regulations. It is the church which asks for too much that people have fallen out with not God.

God is the owner of everything. If so then we are the managers and should look after it. God is generous. We should emulate this. Is there more we can be doing?

God has a real concern for the poor. Jesus said No one can serve two masters. If we serve money it will eventually get in the way of us serving God.

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