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Turning to God at this Time of Crisis


God at Ground Zero
The Rev. Dr. Douglass M. Bailey

September 28, 2001 

The horrific tragedy of September 11 has left its searing print and pain on the soul and heart of humanity. Each of us has been changed. Forever.

Terrible tragedy does that. Philosophers and theologians say that tragic events do more to shape the human journey of life and faith than do sunny, happy moments. That is not to say that life is tragic. It is just that tragedy requires a deeper response from within us.

When some of us stood at Ground Zero in downtown New York City on Monday, September 17, we had no words. Only silence. Only tears. Only wrenching hearts and stomachs. Somebody had mounted loud speakers. Occasionally, the silence was broken by John Philip Sousa's "March" or the instrumental "National Anthem." In the wake of that unspeakable terror and tragedy, with my entire body trembling, I listened to "America's music," I felt the hunger for God, and I noticed a tug of hope deep inside of me.

That seems to be the order. Feelings come first. Disbelief, silence, shock, tears come next. Later, feeble words begin to surface in an attempt to capture feelings. Acknowledged feelings are important. As is one's faith. As are the words. The telling and retelling of the stories of September 11, and its aftermath will be part of our healing.

We all stand near Ground Zero. Terror (and terrorists) have struck the heart of the world. Of the over 6,000 missing and dead in the World Trade Center towers alone, slightly over 2,500 are white Anglo-Saxon Americans. The others are our sisters and brothers who are African Americans, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, citizens of Great Britain, Brazil, Malaysia, etc. The world stands at Ground Zero.

The God of world faiths stands at Ground Zero: Yahweh, Allah, Christ…those are some of God's names. God weeps. God holds out his hands. God embraces her universal family. God is in the wordless souls of the saints departed, their families, the human family. Our hope is in our God.

Tragedy shapes the human journey. But, rising from the ashes of tragedy is the God of our spiritual ancestors, the God of Abraham, Ishmael and Jesus. Our God gathers us and lifts us up. Today we live in a sadder, more tragic world. But, we now live in a world of deeper spiritual and moral awareness. We live in a world of a heightened need for authentic community. We live in a world of fewer idle words (maybe), and more need for the Word. President Bush states that in the weeks ahead we will get "almost back to normal." I don't believe we'll ever return to "normal." In ways for which we do not have words, we are changed. Forever! "O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come."

© 2001 Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis TN


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A Time of National Mourning
The Rev. Canon William A. Kolb

written on September 12, 2001

We have watched pictures for years of other countries, other peoples, suffering the effects of war: violence, horrible deaths, grieving, displacement from homes, numbness of mind and spirit. Finally it has happened here. This was not the first but by far it was the worst. The uncertainty that permeates New York City, and many across the country, about a possible "second wave" of attacks eats away at the quality of life.

It is a time, now, for great sadness at the needless waste and destruction of precious lives. We know that peace is always God's will; we understand perhaps a bit better now, why.

The central issue for each of us as Christians is our strength of spirit—that we might be empowered by God to continue to live in hope, in joy, in trust and in peace. It is our responsibility to strive against a spirit of vengeance within our hearts. And just how do we do that, seeing the images we see of these dastardly and barbaric attacks? We can do it with God's help.

God yearns for us to be "instruments of his Peace." God reaches out to us with His Holy Spirit of Peace. And we can receive that Spirit if we are open to it. I commend to you lots of prayer, and lots of reading of the wisdom and inspiration of scripture—scripture that has helped God's people deal with every kind of disaster and crisis that has ever faced humanity. Try these:

  • Psalm 23, 27, 42, 46, 121
  • Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33
  • Romans 8:14-19, 34-35, 37-39
  • Revelation 7:9-17
  • John 14:1-6.

Keep in mind that God's Truths are always true. These readings are as up-to-the-minute as this morning's newspaper and far wiser, in their comforting and strengthening power.

May God strengthen us and guide us all in the days ahead.

© 2001 The Rev. William A. Kolb


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When Terror Strikes
The Rev. Dr. Stephen R. Montgomery

September 16, 2001

Jeremiah 4:11-12; 22-28;
I Timothy 1:12-17

Elie Wiesel tells this story: When the great rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tov saw misfortune threatening the Jews it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished and the misfortune averted.

Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Magid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: "Master of the universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And again, the miracle would be accomplished.

Still later, Rabbi Moshe–Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more, would go into the forest and say: "I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient."

Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is tell the story and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient. [1]

This past week has been a week in which many of us also have found it difficult to light the fire; we don’t know what to pray for; and we aren’t even sure where a safe place is. But we do have stories. And they must be sufficient....

What is your story? Mine began as yours did, like any other Tuesday morning. I had taken the kids to school. On the way to school I was listening to National Public Radio and there was nothing out of the ordinary. I was actually half-listening as I often do when there are children in the car. And it was only later that I realized that Aaron had heard something that I had not heard, and he asked, "Daddy, what is a hijacking?" I explained to him what it was, and that was why we went through those metal detectors at airports, so that we could fly safely. I didn’t think anything more of it, and I dropped them off and came in for a meeting with Virginia Dunaway, our church life administrator. We were talking about the nuts and bolts of the running of the church when Cheryl McDermott, our children’s ministry director, came in and said that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers.

At that point it seemed tragic, but perhaps accidental and certainly far removed, like a plane crash in California.

Fifteen minutes later she came back with the news that another plane had crashed into the other tower, and suddenly the day took on a whole new meaning. A television had been set up in the presbytery office, and so from time to time I would wander by and steal a glance, but for the most part the day was a blur, hearing of another jet plowing into the Pentagon. This couldn’t be happening! Yet another jet downed in Pennsylvania. And then the collapse of one of the twin towers, then the other. What would be next?

We quickly decided to scrap our usual wholeness service and prepared a prayer service in case we had a few extra people. Would there be 25? 50? Let’s do 100 bulletins, we said. They started arriving early, and sat here in silence. Nobody talked or visited, like we’re so prone to do here in moments before worship. We just sat here broken-hearted, shocked, perhaps not even knowing why we were here. And people kept coming and coming… hundreds of men, women, and children, each with their own story that they were trying to make sense of. And it was at that service that I began to get a glimpse of a larger story. In place of all of those dreadful images that we had seen during the day, there was another image which will be indelibly etched in my mind as vividly as those others I had seen on television.

We were serving communion by intinction. Since we didn’t know how many people to expect we only had one station. And as I held the bread and offered it to one after another after another, I looked up and the line stretched as far as I could see… all the way to the back of the sanctuary. No music. Total silence. All waiting, yearning for something that was more than just the physical bread and juice. Call it meaning, call it something of eternal significance, call it peace, call it love. But there you were, believers, or trying-to-be-believers in another story.

And that is why we come here today. That is why we come here on every Sunday, for that matter. It is to wrap ourselves in a story that is bigger than we are, a story that undergirds and envelops all of our personal stories, takes those stories and redeems them, placing them in the context of a powerful story that begins not on a Tuesday morning but with the words "In the beginning, God…."

And every now and then we find glimpses of our story in that larger story. Such is the case with our Old Testament lesson today. Listen to these words and ask yourself if these 2,500-year-old words could have been written this week:

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!…
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent;
For I hear the sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war.
Disaster overtakes disaster,
The whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
My curtains in a moment….
I looked on the earth and it was waste and void;…
I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
All the birds of the air had fled.
…all of its cities were laid in ruins…

God can handle our anguish. That is what so many of those passionate psalms are about, crying out to God… asking… demanding that God be God. And as they give voice to their feelings to God, they become oriented to a new reality.

That is one reason why it is important for us as people of faith to find support communities where we can feel safe to voice our feelings. It is true for our children, but it is also true for us adults as well. Our psyches have very poor digestive systems and what goes down can come up in very unhealthy ways unless they are openly and honestly addressed. ... Many of us are finding that we are having feelings we didn’t even know we had. One man, a veteran of World War II, [told me] "I thought I had forgotten how to hate; but it came back so quickly."

Anger is legitimate, even called for, but if we let our anger turn to hate, then we are little better than those who have hated and hurt us. God knows it is emotionally satisfying to hate with righteous indignation, but God also knows that what is emotionally satisfying can be spiritually devastating. As Roland Bainton once said, "If you have to become the beast in order to defeat the beast, the beast has won."

We can learn well from the questions our children ask, for there is a deep honesty about them. Some of the questions I have heard as a father are: Are we safe? Why do bad people do things like that? Why is there evil? Did God cause that?

Let me say clearly and unequivocally, This was not God’s will! God did not want those people to die. It is not part of God’s plan. Jerry Falwell has been quoted as saying that this was the judgment of God coming down on America because we have been too tolerant towards some minorities… too liberal… that God wanted this to happen, indeed, that God caused this to happen as he recited all of his pet prejudices… feminists, gays, doctors who perform abortion, the ACLU.

My friends, listen carefully: That is not simply a distortion of the Gospel; it is a desertion of the Gospel! Our God’s heart was the first to break when that first airliner hit the twin tower, and it broke thousands of times over in the next few minutes.

Further, fundamentalism, be it Muslim, Jewish, or Christian is dangerous whenever the purity of dogma is placed higher than the integrity of love. No, the God of love revealed on every page of scriptures is a creative God. God does not destroy innocent lives. God may come across destruction and enter into it with us, but God is always building, always creating.

Another question children… and adults ask is about evil. Evil is real.... It is there. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t know for sure what to call it. But we have seen it throughout history, and we saw it on Tuesday. On Wednesday night Bill Moyers interviewed an ethicist from a seminary and asked him "What is evil?" And the scholar replied: "Evil is when you cannot see anything of value in another person." That kind of evil brought about much destruction, and our God is a creative God who will build from this, but don’t let anyone tell you God is responsible for evil.

So what is to be the response of the family of faith? It is certainly prayer, but it is more than that. It is to tell the story again and again. It is the story of salvation, for this story tells of another power, even more powerful than death and evil and suffering. And it too has an image that I hope will be imprinted in your mind’s eye just as those initial images of Tuesday were: it is the image of a man on a cross, and it is called "suffering love."

"This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." We hear those words just about every Sunday in our words of assurance. But is it at all possible that they have new meaning today? The salvation we are talking about here is not just the salvation from the pits of hell that some love to describe theatrically. But rather it is salvation for joy, for the full and abundant life Christ offers, for knowing that God can be trusted not only with my sins and salvation, but also trusted to redeem each and every day from insignificance. God so loved the world that God sent God’s son.

Let me share personally about what this means this day as I struggle to find how Christ might work for good… for salvation… in the presence of terror and evil:

Jesus saves me from judging others more harshly than I judge myself. Peace begins with me. Jesus saves me from hatred and vindictiveness toward those with whom I disagree, or who have shown hatred and vindictiveness to me. You remember the camp song of another generation: "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." God can work for good, and it begins with me.

Further, Jesus saves me from indifference to the suffering of other people. As we have heard these stories of phone calls from airplanes, of firefighters giving their lives, of people wandering the streets of New York carrying pictures of loved ones, who can remain indifferent? Maybe this tragedy can put us in touch with people around the world for whom suffering is a way of life. When bombs explode in the Middle East, when civil wars disrupt in Africa, maybe we can find that we are one in our suffering, and thus help God build a new world fashioned upon redemption.

Jesus saves me from a self-centered view of the world, saves me from thinking God loves me more than another. Jeremiah’s God was not a tribal god, but the God of all creation. God loves the Muslims who run the sandwich shop just down the street from here every bit as much as God loves the Presbyterians who worship here. And it is absolutely vital that whenever anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian or anti-Arab bigotry raises its ugly head, we go the extra mile to expose it and confront it with suffering love.

Finally, Jesus saves me from despair, from ever believing that life has no purpose, or giving in to those impulses to abandon hope. The cross reminds us that death and despair are not dead ends, but signs of an impending resurrection, and only as we have the faith to live fully in the midst of these difficult days will we too experience resurrection and the transformation of our lives and the life of our nation. For that is our calling.

An old man in India sat down in the shade of an ancient banyan tree whose roots disappeared far away in a swamp. Soon he discerned a commotion where the root entered the water. Concentrating his attention, he saw that a scorpion had become helplessly entangled in the roots. Pulling himself to his feet, he made his way carefully along the tops of the roots to the place where the scorpion was trapped. He reached down to extricate it. But each time he touched the scorpion, it lashed his hand with its tail, stinging him painfully. Finally his hand was so swollen he could no longer close his fingers, so he withdrew to the shade of the tree to wait for the swelling to go down. As he arrived at the trunk, he saw a young man standing above him on the road laughing at him. "You’re a fool," said the young man, "wasting your time trying to help a scorpion that can only do you harm."

The old man replied, "Simply because it is in the nature of the scorpion to sting, should I change my nature, which is to save?"

Thanks be to God for this story that begins "In the beginning, God…" But thanks be to God, it doesn’t end there. At its center there is an image of suffering love that carries us through the terror to hope and salvation.


[1] Eli Wiesel, The Gates of the Forest.
[2] Brueggemann, Walter, Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile, Fortress Press, 1986, p. 14.

© 2001 Idlewild Presbyterian Churc h, Memphis, Tennessee
Preached at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee September 16, 2001

Jeremiah 4:11-12; 22-28
At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.
"For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good." I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger. For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end. Because of this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above grow black; for I have spoken, I have purposed; I have not relented nor will I turn back. (NRSV)

I Timothy 1:12-17
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)


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Love Our Enemies?
The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

I Timothy 2:1-8
Luke 16:1-13

Twelve days ago ...twelve days ago. Any one of you could finish the sentence. And while the details you select may be different, the story is known by all of us alike.

Twelve days ago, planes crashed into strong, well-constructed structures, and the force and fire imploded buildings and lives in an instant.

Twelve days ago, people kissed goodbye for a day's work or a brief parting at an airport. Their lips touched for the last time without their even knowing it.

Twelve days ago, the illusion of insulation from the world's ailments and safety within our own boundaries was blown to smithereens, shattered along with these thousands of sacred lives of men and women, youth and children, people just like you and me.

Twelve days ago, a group of men who themselves once were someone's child deliberately crashed planes in order to deliberately end lives.

Now, a mere twelve days later, already we must begin to determine our response to these staggering and repulsive events. Thursday night, many of us watched the President's address and began to consider the long road our nation faces in defense of liberty and justice for all. As the President said, the course of action is not yet clear. But certainly military involvement seems likely. The stakes are up for all of us.

There are people here who are of draft age and families with loved ones of or close to that age. We are facing in "the enemy" a mindset and world view that we cannot begin to grasp and to which we hardly know how to respond. The stakes are up for all of us.

The "rules of war" as we know them do not apply in this kind of terror. Terrorists toy with our peace of mind and wreak havoc with our emotional sense of safety and confidence. The stakes are up.

And in the midst of this present danger come the words from Scripture to us today. And oh, what words they are. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, "I urge that prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions....This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."

I urge you that prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, kings, those in high positions...everyone. Certainly, we should pray for our own president; we've been doing that. But what about the leaders of the enemy? Pray for the terrorists? Pray for the enemy? It is a slap in the face. It is an offense to those who have lost the ones they came home to each night. It is scandalous. It is, nevertheless, for better or for worse, also the Gospel.

Pray for those who persecute you, love your enemy. Do not return evil for evil. Jesus taught it. We say it. Now, the stakes are up. How do we live it? How on earth do we live as Jesus' disciples, trying to love an enemy who can commit such ruthless acts of cowardice? How dare it even be suggested?

And perhaps more importantly, why should it be suggested? Why, in this horrendous situation, should we use any of our precious energy even thinking about the enemy, other than to catch and destroy him? Why especially, should we entertain the concept of loving the enemy?

Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech entitled "Loving your Enemies" says this: "I think the first reason we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus' thinking is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somewhere, somebody must have a little sense, and that's the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil." (Delivered by Dr. King at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama 17 November 1957. All future references to Dr. King's words are to this same address).

By no means should we confuse love with liking. By no means should we assume love implies agreement on any count or even the ability to trust. Each of these can be absent and still love can be the operative foundation of our actions.

This love of enemy is not a feeling; nor is it based upon the worthiness of the enemy. It is, rather, a spiritual command, a responsibility we have to our God, regardless of the nature and action of the enemy.

The seed of that love is our recognition of our own sinful nature, our own capacity to do evil. Dr. King, in his speech, said that self-awareness is the first step in developing the ability to love one's enemy. There are no completely good people, and no one is completely evil.

The beginning of love, then, is to recognize my sin and to desire to see the goodness in my enemy, no matter how remote or undeveloped or eclipsed from view that goodness may be. It is hard to face our own evil and our enemy's goodness.

There are times in human history that test this theology severely. Hitler's reign of Terror, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Timothy McVeigh, and now, Bin Laden and the Al Qaida.

There are degrees of evil, to be sure. And in the face of such severe evil acts as we now witness, it seems almost impossible to search for good in the evil ones and almost irrelevant to focus on our own sin.

Yet, over and over, our Scripture compels us to do so. In today's Gospel we heard the parable of the shrewd manager. It is a parable about facing our own wrong actions. It is a confusing text to many because it is unclear by the end of the story who is the pure protagonist and who is the clear antagonist. The owner of the property could be seen as the enemy, the powerful land owner who can dismiss a servant at will. The servant can be seen as a louse. He squanders the owner's resources...scattering them carelessly. We can easily vilify this servant, not only because he is careless, but also because he is immoral, cheating the master by reducing the bills of his debtors. Even the debtors become suspect, as they collude with the manager to their own gain.

Yet, just as we imagine the master is about to lay the servant low with even more severe punishment, he praises the servant for being so shrewd. No one in the parable is completely pure.

Yet, the moral is that even in the shrewd moves of the servant, mercy is obtained. It is not always clean and clear, this path to the right thing. By the end of the story, everyone is tainted.

Is it not true of humanity as a whole? While there are, to be sure, severely differentiated degrees and kinds of evil, yet still, any starting point for peace and justice must assume some capacity for good in the enemy and some capacity for sin in our own lives.

These two coordinates of awareness—the awareness of good in evil and evil in good—become the crossroads at which we can meet the enemy and hope for love to conquer hate. It is in this intersection where negotiations for real justice and liberty always begin and end.

But this is no simple task, no simple conflict in which we are presently engaged. Those who stand on the other side of the divide hold a position which makes dialogue with us highly unlikely, in part because they seem not to see the sin within them or the goodness within us at all. But we cannot exchange our Gospel for this same blindness. We must continue to confess our sins and look for God's light, even in them. This is the better path. We know that justice and liberty begin with these teachings of Jesus.

The defense of this justice and liberty may require war of our nation. Already in this conflict there have been acts of courage and love in which people have given their lives to protect and save others. And we are likely to see much more sacrifice of this kind in the months ahead.

If we go to war, there will be men and women—perhaps even in this room today—who, moved by love and the desire for justice, will lay their own lives on the line for principles we each hold dear. They will need to be prepared even to kill the enemy for the sake of love and justice in this world. We will ask them to do this as a nation.

But never ever is this a reality to be desired. The inability of humanity to resolve our deep rifts without resorting to violence is the greatest tragedy of our existence on this earth. If both sides were able to enact love, deeply and powerfully, then the horrible pain of war would become entirely unnecessary.

Now, more than ever, we need to return to Godly love. We need to become students of love's ways. We need to seek wisdom, even as we seek to respond to the events of twelve days ago.

If every decision from this day forward could be made from the vulnerable cross love of Jesus, a love like the best kind of mother love, a love that holds every young man and woman who will die in battle, both on our side and on the side of the enemy, in the deepest caverns of the heart, then perhaps, perhaps we could find a way to live and create liberty and justice for all that did not rely on a foundation of power and war.

We know that every decision will not be made from this vulnerable cross love of Jesus. We know that the world is sick and filled with hatred.

But you and I must know, too, that we have a responsibility as Christians to do something more than just lament this fact. Somehow, we the Church must find ways to witness in tangible form to the hope for God's reign of love that is within us.

If we are to take risks, if we are to risk our sons and daughters, let it be for love. Let it be with a mother's heart of grief that the Church responds, not falling prey to our understandable impulses for vengeance. For vengeance, in the end destroys the avenger.

Dr. King said that many people dismiss Jesus' words about loving the enemy as the impossible ideas of an impractical idealist. But, Dr. King said, "Far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization."

You and I have committed ourselves to obey Jesus Christ. What now does he require of us? The Church has a part to play in our nation. The love of God is stronger than the evil at hand. And we must make it known.

© 2001 The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley
Preached at St. James' Episcopal Church, Jackson, Mississippi

1 Timothy 2:1-7
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all--this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (NRSV)

Luke 16:1-13
Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Then the manager said to himself, 'What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' He answered, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Then he asked another, 'And how much do you owe?' He replied, 'A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill and make it eighty.' And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (NRSV)


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