Devotional for the week of September 18, 2022

The Grace of Confusion

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells a challenging parable about a dishonest steward that ends with an unsettling moral: “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” (Luke 16:9).

Is Jesus being ironic or sincere? Do the characters in the story somehow represent our relationship with God? Are we supposed to emulate the dishonest steward? This text is filled with questions. If you find Jesus’ words today perplexing, even baffling, don’t worry—you are in good company. Both the details of the parable itself and the lesson Jesus is drawing from it have vexed and puzzled generations of the best interpreters, theologians, and preachers.

There are many plausible ways to explain what is happening and what it means for our lives as Christians that might be explored in your assembly today. At the same time, scriptures like this are a reminder that the life of discipleship does not always come with easy answers and neatly packaged meanings. The gospels frequently report moments when Jesus’ disciples simply could not understand what he was saying to them or profoundly misinterpreted his meaning.

The value of the community you join today does not come from the perfect understandings of either the assembly or its leaders. It comes from the one who continues to speak even when we do not understand, who daily affirms God’s love for us through the waters of baptism, who offers his own body and blood at the table each week for those who are still struggling and learning what it means to be his disciples—and that includes all of us. In short, the value of the community you join today comes from a Lord committed to leading us as disciples, even when we are unclear of the way.

Devotional message and art based on the readings for September 18th, 2022 reprinted from
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