Economics is the science of determining how best to allocate finite resources for the greatest good. It operates on the principle of risk and reward, of work and wages. It talks about scarcity and limits. God’s economy, however, is quite different. Rewards comes and then work follows. The call comes, and then we work out with the help of the Holy Spirit the work God would have us do. God’s kingdom is the arena of his grace and generosity. Under his rule, what we consider as our time, talents and treasures are his gifts, poured out on us, to overflow in love for the sake of the world.
Did you know that the word ‘economics’ comes from the Greek word for steward? A steward was a person appointed by the owner to manage their household. This meant looking after property, staff and the wellbeing of the household. God created human beings to be stewards of God’s creation. He called us to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it,” but we thumbed our noses at God and wanted to run the whole show. Look at the mess we’ve made. However, But God sent Jesus as the faithful steward over God’s house. Jesus loses his life to save us, he recreates us in his image and he calls us serve his Father as faithful stewards of God’s grace. This is our privileged calling.
What’s your most treasured possession? Your house, a car, a piece of art or jewellery? A family heirloom? We have so much, and the temptation we face is to invest the things we have with ultimate meaning. When we do this, we forget the God who has blessed us with all that we have, and we forget those whom God has called us to love. We are God’s treasured possession, through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. This releases the hold of all the other ‘treasures’ we have, and we can treat them as gifts from God to be shared in love with others.
None of us are experts in prayer. We all struggle to pray consistently and carefully. Jesus offers us his prayer. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray. It is an entry point into the heart of prayer. It anchors us in a life of prayer, and leads us always deeper into the heart of God.
God has good things to give us, if only we could sit still for a while to receive them! The Gospel reading from today sees Martha displaying love for her neighbour as she offers hospitality to Jesus and his entourage. There’s lots to do and no one seems willing to help Martha, especially not her sister, Mary, who just sits and listens at Jesus’ feet while Martha does all the work. You can almost hear Martha's frustration, "Don't just sit there, do something!" However, Martha’s busyness has distracted her from receiving the love Jesus has for her! That’s even more important than her service to him. His love for us is the better thing he wants to give us that then shapes our love of God and our love for our neighbour. Otherwise, service just becomes a begrudging, loveless duty and our lives become endlessly distracted by life’s obligations. Jesus’ call to all of us today is a beautiful rebuke to the cult of busyness: “Don’t just do something, sit there - with me.” We give thanks for our worship today where God comes to meet with us, speak to us, bless us and shape us with his love.
Neighborhood Watch is a local organisation that encourages us to keep an eye on our neighbour’s safety and security. Like many other community groups, it is struggling to recruit members. We seem not to have the time nor inclination to love our neighbour. Today Jesus is asked to define who our neighbour is. He does this by telling this most well-known of his stories-the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The question is not, “Who is my neighbour? ” but rather, “To whom am I a neighbour?” A neighbour is simply one who responds in mercy to a person in need. Jesus is the ultimate good neighbour, who entered into our messed-up world, bandaged the wounds of sin with his grace, and carried the burden of our sin on the cross. Our calling is to share the mercy that has been extended to us to all we meet on the road of life.
This week we received the news that the number of Australians who identify as Christians has dropped to less than 44%. This is sobering but perhaps not surprising news. Jesus’ words to us this week remind us that God works through us, his disciples, to share his kingdom message. We can be confident that the Holy Spirit is at work in our world today, and that there will be a harvest. God has written our name in heaven, and he has room for plenty more. Paul encourages us in our calling: “ Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
We love to tell travel tales. There’s something about the idea of journey that touches us deeply. Perhaps it is the experience of putting ourselves to the test. It might be a sense of adventure. Journey is also a well-used metaphor for life itself. Today we hear about the journey Jesus is on. It will culminate on the cross in Jerusalem. Jesus walks this road alone, but through his perseverance and sacrifice, he changes the direction of our life journey. He walks alongside of us as our Saviour and Guide. His resurrection has filled us with new life and hope, and we now bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit as we share Jesus’ life and hope with others on the road of life.
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “We pray to God: “Deliver us from evil. We also pray, “Your kingdom come.” Jesus’ life mission was to confront evil and bring God’s life and hope. Jesus heals a man whose life has become a living hell through evil spirits who have taken over his life. In love, Jesus releases him from evil and rehumanizes him. He has a new story to tell; how much Jesus has done for him. This is our story too. Through Jesus’ cross and resurrection, evil has been defeated. We live as citizens of God’s kingdom, announcing his victory and sharing the good news of Jesus’ healing, power and protection.