9-18-16 Common Wealth or Commonwealth

September 30, 2016
Unidentified Flemish painter. Rich and Poor, or, War and Peace, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55707 [retrieved September 30, 2016]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arm_und_Reich_(fl%C3%A4misch_17_Jh).jpg.

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“Common Wealth or Commonwealth”
by Rev. Chase Peeples
Luke 16:1-13
September 18, 2016, Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus’ story of a steward fearful of getting fired who lowers the debts owed to his master so that he might have friends when he is without employment is perhaps the most difficult parable of Jesus to understand.  Interpreter’s disagree over its meaning.  Rev. Peeples acknowledges that his interpretation is his best guess, but your interpretation may be better.

In this story the steward who is rumored to be misuising his master’s money finds his help not from some other great mast but from people beneath him in economic and social standing.  This is a common motif in Luke’s Gospel–people being helped by those considered beneath them.  Could it be that the way we understand social status, wealth and class is completely backwards from Jesus’ teachings about the realm of God?  What do Christians who are middle class and even wealthier than middle class need to learn from people of lower status?

Related quotations:

“The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth — that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community — and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”

–Wendell Berry

“Watch lest prosperity destroy generosity.”

—Henry Ward Beecher

Article referenced in the sermon:

“Faith Groups Take on Payday Lenders” in Sojourners

Bible References

  • Luke 16:1 - 13