Fr Bosco Peters presided and preached at the 10am mass. We were delighted to baptise Taylor and Arthur and welcome them into the family of the Church. Our Gospel reading was taken from Luke 16: 1–13.
Read on for the sermon and a video of the service.
The sayings, parables, and stories of Jesus are funny, memorable, challenging, and shocking. If we aren't challenged, shocked, and rolling in the aisles with belly laughter at the stories of Jesus, then something has been lost in translation - or we just aren't paying attention. And none more so than today's story.
Before this, Jesus has been telling story after story about God's all-including love. Jesus has been caring for anyone who comes. Jesus has been talking to everyone and caring for everyone and eating with everyone. Everyone. This morning Jesus turns to the disciples, his close followers. The disciples have given up lots, everything to follow Jesus, and they are now going with him as he heads towards Jerusalem.
Now remember, in Jesus' day, for most people, taxes had become so high that they had to sell the little patch of land they had to pay off their tax debts. So today's story is about a wealthy person who lives in the city and owns land in the rural countryside. And Jesus tells of the rural peasants whose parents or grandparents owned this land. These farmers are working for a wage on that land they once used to own. And they continued getting further and further into debt.
The wealthy, city-dwelling land owner has a manager running the farm. One day we can imagine a resentful farm worker put in a complaint about the manager - your manager is squandering your property. The land-owner calls in the manager and sacks him.
But before the news gets out that the manager is sacked, the manager calls in the farm workers one by one and forgives debt that the worker owes.
These workers have been slipping further and further into debt. These people are working harder and harder to pay what can't be paid. And the manager says - let's reduce your impossible multi-million dollar debt to something that maybe could be repaid. Let's free you and your family to open up some choices.
You can imagine the landowner arriving from Jerusalem for his annual inspection. He's arriving in his chauffeur-driven limousine from Jerusalem, and to his absolute surprise, the streets to the farm are lined with his cheering workers. They see the landowner as having set them free from impossible bondage. And his manager is their hero in the owner's reflected glory.
Now, from a capitalist point of view, everything the manager does is dishonest - he's been fired, he doesn't even have the authority of a manager. He certainly now was squandering the landlord's property after he was fired!
And that, says Jesus to his disciples, is what God is like, what God is actually like.
You can imagine the disciples have been wondering what extra they are going to get out of giving up everything and following Jesus - because Jesus seems to be treating everyone equally. Equally!
The disciples had thought: change your life, give up things, follow Jesus - then we'll be special, then God will love us, then we'll get extra blessings.
And Jesus turns this completely upside down: a baby doesn't grow and do good things and then parents love the child. No. Parents love a child unconditionally, and that encourages the child to grow and do good. God is like that.
This morning we baptise Taylor and Arthur to perfectly express this: God is love, God gives us life. We love because God first loves us.