Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
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Dinner Slaves

October 6:

Dinner Slaves
Call:    2 Timothy 1: 3-14
Text:    Luke 17: 5-10
Prophet: Jeremiah 5: 1-3

            Dinner Slaves

Today's scripture is what I call:   a "Jos. A Banks parable."

That term has nothing to do with men's clothing.
It is, however, inspired by
with the way Jos. A Banks advertises the sale of that clothing

For in every one of their ads - at least all that I have heard -
They offer deals involving multiple items for the price of one
"When you buy one suit,
you get a second one    - absolutely free!"

The parable that is our text     Does the same thing.

For Jesus told it to make a certain point.
   And the story makes that point well.

But it also makes another point for those like us
      Who recently spent time with the rich man and Lazarus.
         And recall both what that parable said
         And the passages we looked at with it
from Paul's first letter to Timothy
and from one of John Wesley's sermons

And so this morning,  I am prepared to offer you a great deal.
   If you listen to the message Jesus wanted
   You get a second message -    absolutely free.
Let's read and listen:  Luke 17: 7-10

Now, the way that Jesus told the parable,
   He wanted us to read it as the slaves.

We will! for what Jesus wanted to get across deserves more attention than the secondary message found in the parable
   But we are going to look at the other one first.

[In the same sense,
that the suit for which you are paying Jos. A. Banks
is more important to the store
   than the one you will get  "absolutely free."
But the store doesn't care that you picked the free one first.]

And for the secondary message,
   We have to read the story  as the slave owner.

At dinner time,
our slave comes in from working for us
and our first expectation of him
      is to prepare our dinner
      to serve that dinner
      and only after we are done do we give the slave a chance to eat his/her own dinner.

With that kind of an attitude we demonstrate
   Not that the slave is not important
After all, we need his work
and we paid a good price for him/her
   But rather that the slave is not as important as we are

Do you get that?

What we are saying with our attitude and our way of life
Is that we are more important than our slave
   Were are greater than he/she is
And impliedly, that because we are better
   That we are more valuable to God.

Jesus noted that we expect to be fed and served
even though we have sat around all day watching football
or looking at Pinterest
While our slave has "slaved" all day by working for us.

Without even being aware of it
   We as the slave owners  have devalued another person.

Much like last week's rich man
who not only ignored the beggar during his life
   but who, while tortured and thirsty,
      Asked Abraham to send Lazarus to serve him in death
by bringing him water
   or if that was impossible
      to serve him by warning the rich man's brothers.

Even then, he didn't ask Lazarus if he was willing to do it
Even then, he did not understand that Lazarus was his equal.

It is a destructive and an unacceptable way of thinking
   An attitude that allowed slavery in the first place
   An attitude that gave birth to discrimination and the KKK
And sadly,
An attitude which can be found in and even defines
the relationship in some marriages.

It is no wonder that John Wesley could say
   That being rich is no more sinful than being poor
   But that it is extremely dangerous.
It is no wonder that Paul told Timothy
   to instruct the rich to not be haughty.

And as we heard this morning
   It is no wonder that Jeremiah could not find
one person who acted justly and sought truth

      He couldn't find such a person among the rich
         Who had full knowledge of God's law
Or Among the poor
      Who might, at least, be excused because they didn't

The message about our perceived and dangerous inequality
is the suit we get - absolutely free
It is a sequel to last week's message from the other parable.

It is not the suit for which we are paying
   Or, more accurately: the suit for which Christ paid.

It is not the suit that Christ picked out for us to wear.

In other words, it is not
   The message that Christ picked out for his disciples to hear
      When he told the story

To get that suit - that message, we need two things,
   First, we need
to hear the verses that precede the parable
      And here I am going back to verse 1 - not just verse 5
   Second, we need
to hear the parable as if we are    the slaves

This is what happened before the story was told:   Luke 17: 1-4

"If there is repentance    you must forgive."
That is "must"    not "may"      not "should"   but "must"

That is "forgive"
   "not consider forgiving"   "Not think about forgiving"
            But "forgive!"

Is there a harder command  - in scriptures or in life than
   "If there is repentance    you - we - must forgive."

The disciples knew that this was hard.
They knew that it was against selfish human nature
They knew that to do so would take faith.

And so they begged of Jesus,  [Luke 17: 5-6]

Having responded to their plea for increased faith,
   By telling them that even a small amount of true faith
    Could do much more difficult things
than simply help them forgive a repentant soul
He then told them the parable
   And here - remember - we read it
as if we are the slaves    And God is our owner.
[17: 7-10]

If God is our owner,
   We must obey
   We must do what God tells us to do
   We must not complain about it

As such, when we forgive a repentant person who has wronged us
   We don't deserve praise
   We don't deserve special consideration
   We don't deserve any reward or recognition.

No, we will have simply done what we ought to have done.
You and I know that there are a lot of things that are hard
   Forgiving someone is one of them

But there are others
   Giving for Christ's work is another
      Whether we are giving money, time, or attention
   Making it to worship is a third
      It is much easier to choose to do what we think will be more exciting for ourselves, or our families, or our friends
      Sometimes it is easier to just remain in bed
   Not whining is still one more difficult thing
      For we tend to complain about what we don't have
      Than to be grateful to God for what we have received.

And Christ has told us in this story
that if our faith were strong enough
   We could do all these hard things
And he would repeat to us what he told the disciples
that when we do them,
we don't deserve praise or a pat on the back
For we would simply have done what God expects us to do.

When Jos. A Banks "gives" us a second suit   - absolutely free
   The store is giving us a second that is connected to the first.
      It isn't giving us oranges or flowers or a new car
      It is giving us a second suit

Likewise these two lessons from the parable are connected
   For if we are not so haughty as to overlook others
      We exhibiting and contributing
      To the strength of faith   to do what God expects us to
   Christ is giving us a second lesson

And thus    the lessons of Jesus' "Jos. A. Banks parable."
   With its two lessons for the price of one.