Category: Brett Younger

Luke 16:19-31

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on September 25th, 2016.

Fedor Bronnikov
Fedor Bronnikov

Kathleen Norris suggests that when someone asks you if you are a Christian, you should respond: “Here’s a list of my friends.  Ask them.”

Would hungry children in poverty-stricken countries say that we are Christian ministers?  Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus challenges preachers to talk like followers of Christ.

Once there was a rich man whose friends call him Dives—which is Latin for rich.  He enjoys looking through the Nieman-Marcus catalog.  He wears handmade suits, custom-tailored shirts, and fancy underwear.  The rich man is not a bad guy.  He did not make his money as a hit man or a television preacher.  He does not run Lazarus off his property or report him to the police.  He does not do anything mean.  He does not do anything.  Maybe Dives noticed Lazarus and said a prayer for him, but he stuck to his policy of never giving anything directly to street people.  Dives does not realize that his possessions are a gift to be shared, so Lazarus remains hungry.

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Luke 16:1-13

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on September 18th, 2016.

Jacob Adrianensz
Jacob Adrianensz

Which one of these acts with the most cleverness?  Is it a student composing a poem, a small business owner trying to turn a profit, or a preacher working to convince listeners to live like Jesus?  The Parable of the Dishonest Manager challenges ministers to think outside the box.

Jesus looked at the disciples and did not see much thinking going on—inside or outside the box.  Jesus’ followers have not always been known for their creativity, but it is not because Jesus did not try.

Jesus tells this outrageous story about a rich man who gets word that there is a bad apple in the barrel.  The snitch noticed the manager driving a car that was a little too nice for a mid-level manager’s salary.  The rich boss summons the dishonest manager and gives him a pink slip:  “Audit the books, turn them in, and clean out your desk because you’re done.”

The manager knows he is in big trouble:  “I’m no good at manual labor.  I’m too old to start over.  I’ve grown accustomed to this lifestyle, and unemployment compensation is peanuts.  All I’ve got left is my ingenuity.  I’ll outsmart them.”

He moves quickly because the news of his termination will not be news for long.  He gets together his boss’s biggest clients at an expensive restaurant—one last fling on the corporate credit card.

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Luke 15:1-10

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on September 11th, 2016.

Parable of the Lost Drachma by Fetti

In the churches in which I grew up, we thought the “lost” consisted of everyone who was not in a church like ours on Sunday morning—and maybe a few that were.  The preacher’s first job when preaching the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin is convincing listeners that these stories are about us.  We feel lost and want to be found.  Jesus is talking to us.

Jesus is having dinner with a crowd that is lost and wants to be found, but has not recognized it yet—tax collectors and sinners, low-downs and no-accounts.  Every once in a while the ones who think themselves the best and brightest complain about the way Jesus treats the worst and dimmest like they are long-lost friends, “Why are you eating with these people?”

Jesus tries yet again to explain:  “God is a shepherd with a hundred sheep who loses one because sheep are always wandering off.  Ninety-nine out of a hundred sounds pretty good.  Most shepherds wouldn’t be upset, but God leaves the ninety-nine in the wilderness—where they are vulnerable to wolves, wandering off, and lots of other mischief—to go out in the dark to find the poor lost thing.  God beats the bushes because no one is expendable.”

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Luke 14:25-33

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on September 4th, 2016.

Duccio di Buoninsegna
Duccio di Buoninsegna

If you decide to preach on Luke 14:25-33, expect several moments during the week when you wonder if you should have picked another text.  What if there is a visitor looking for a church home?  What if someone comes to worship who needs a word of comfort?  What will this passage say to the members of your congregation who are praying that God will make their hard lives easier?

For The Year of Living Biblically, A. J. Jacobs decided to live by every rule in the Bible.  He tried to follow the Ten Commandments.  He refrained from gossiping, lying, and coveting.  He estimates that he cut down on his coveting by 40 percent.

Jacobs did not enjoy tithing, but he did it.  He stopped shaving and wearing clothes made of mixed fibers. He attached tassels to his clothing, tried his hand at a ten-string harp, and ate crickets, but no pork or shrimp.
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