Amy Martinell, Sioux Falls, SD

Warm-up Question

Today’s parable is about a dishonest servant.  Share the first time you remember lying or being dishonest.  What happened?  Did you come clean or have you kept it a secret?

Can’t Do It Alone

Last night tornados and severe straight-line winds struck Sioux Falls, SD, where I live.  Most people here spent the midnight hours monitoring the storm and taking shelter in their basements. Today the community is flooded with images of the devastation the storms brought.   Buildings are destroyed, trees are uprooted, and power lines are down.  Hospitals had to transfer patients and schools started late this morning, to allow for the streets to be cleaned.  Fortunately, no deaths are serious injuries have been reported.  While there is a lot of damage, we are grateful everyone is safe.

Storms are terrifying things and none of us want to experience them, but I am moved by what we are experiencing after the storm as our community comes together.  Friends and family have been calling and texting to check in with one another.  Local restaurants are providing free meals for city officials and first responders.  Our city helpline is already organizing volunteers and encouraging those who need help with clean up to call for assistance.  As I ran errands this morning, people in the stores took the time to check in with each other, and strangers provided listening ears for one another.  In the midst of the fear and destruction, we see so many caring individuals looking out for each other.

Discussion Questions

  • What is your favorite activity to do with your family?  With your friends?  
  • What groups provide support and community for you?  
  • Who has been a support for you doing a hard or scary time?

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Amos 8:4-7

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Luke 16:1-13

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Can I be honest and say this is a really strange parable?  First we have the manager who is told he will lose his job.   The man cannot do hard labor and does not want to beg so he hatches a plan.  He will forgive the debts of others so that they may give him a place to stay when he loses his job.  So without any permission he lessens the amount owed by two of his master’s debtors.  Surprisingly the master praises him for his shrewd actions and he appears to keep his job.

It is a bit disconcerting that Jesus tells a parable praising dishonest actions, but I cannot help but notice at the heart of the parable is this man being awaken to his need for other people in his life.  We can assume by his panicked response to losing his position that he had no friends or family to take him in.  Suddenly when things go wrong, he realizes he needed other people to help him.  He realizes he needs a community.  

We cannot serve two masters.  When we are concerned only with our own needs, when we focus only on wealth or possessions or status, we cannot live a life of faith.  Our lives instead become limited and we are left alone in our times of need.  When Christ is our master, our world open up.  We are given a community of faithful believers that support us in whatever we are going through.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Jesus told his disciples this parable?  What might they learn from it?
  • Is there ever a time when it is okay to act dishonestly?  Why or why not?
  • What is the problem with trying to serve two masters?  What other things in your life can become your master?
  • How do you view money?  Are you a saver, a spender, or a giver?  How does your faith influence your thoughts on money?

Activity Suggestions

Words of affirmation:    Have everyone write their name on a piece of paper.  Pass the papers around and have everyone write something they appreciate about each person on their paper.  Encourage youth to keep the words of affirmation.  Share together why you like coming to youth group and what you appreciate about this group.

Closing Prayer

Gracious God,  we give you thanks for the gift of community in our lives.  We thank you for those who support and care for us.  Help us to do our part to spread love and hope in our communities.  Amen