Telling a Different Story

A lot of ink and its virtual equivalent has been expended the credit crunch recently... and, from a Christian perspective, what the church's response should be... I've been reflecting on it myself recently with my own congregation as we have encountered pertinent passages in the lectionary... It is remarkable how this liturgical tool provides us with appropriate resources for contextual preaching if we are willing to work with it... For example in its recent meander through Matthew's Gospel we have had:

The parable of the workers in the vineyard... which we often see as a parable of the one-size fits all grace of God, but which involves a situation where the employers employment practice involved promising and paying everyone a living wage regardless of the work they had done. The justice was not in paying proportional to work done, but according to need. (Matthew 20: 1-16)

The passage where Jesus instructs us to give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but to God what is Gods... remembering that while Caesar's image may be imprinted on the coins of the realm, God's image is imprinted on every human life. (Matthew 22: 15-22)

The parable of the talents... an endorsement not of cautious stewardship but of risky investment strategy inspired by the character of the master... In the story, a rapacious character... In our case a gracious, forgiving God. (Matthew 25: 14-30)

I suppose it is because of my recent thinking that I was particularly taken by a piece in yesterday's "Faith & Theology" by Scott Stephens originally written for an Australian Newspaper, which he concludes by saying:

"The onus, then, is on the church – not merely to pray in some benign way that God would mollify the effects of this financial crisis, but really to constitute that alternate form of community. To give the formation of Christian virtue and Christlike generosity priority over misguided “stewardship” (which so often is ecclesiastical code for white-knuckled miserliness). To have the courage to tell our congregations that participation in the Body of Christ means wanting less, using less, wasting less, so that we can distribute more."

We need to stop pontificating about the wrong-headedness that got us into this mess and start offering the world a tangible, practical alternative. Telling a different stroy than the newspapers... A story shaped by Jesus and his stories, and lived out in our everyday lives.


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