Sermon for Trinity 14 – Sunday 2 September 2019
St Mary, Walton and St Martin Trimley
Text: Luke 16v1-13
Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. (Luke 16v9)
God give you peace my sisters and brothers.
It has often been said that ‘Money Talks’. Which then poses the question, ‘What does money talk about?’
Apparently when money gets together in those cloth bags that go to the bank it is remarkably like people. Money talks about where it has been and what it did, who spent it and what they spent it on.
£50 notes talk about cigar smoke filled London clubs, visits to Harrods and Fortnum & Masons, and High Tea on The Strand.
£20 notes talk about the exotic fruit you can buy from Waitrose, the well-dressed staff at John Lewis, and the latest gossip when Ladies do Lunch.
£10 notes are more hard-working and speak of their frustrations about being spat out by the self-Service till at Tesco yet again. They enjoy visits to greasy spoon cafés for a fry-up surrounded by burly blokes wearing hi-viz jackets.
£5 notes have an identity crisis. Some buy the staples of life for those who need to make their pound stretch further and spend time in Lidl working out how much they can afford. Other £5 notes talk about Happy Meals and milkshakes and road trips along motorways.
£2 and £1 coins talk about parking meters and amusement arcades and scratch cards and Lotto tickets.
Silver coins from 50p to 5p talk about being held tight in the fists of excited young children as they run to buy sweeties at the corner shop.
And copper coins? Copper coins talk about collection plates and giving envelopes in Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and in Methodist and Salvation Army meeting halls…
make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. (Luke 16v9)
Money talks and it tells of what we have been doing with it and indeed whether we have ‘made good use of unrighteous mammon’ for those who prefer their Christian accounting lessons in the old currency.
The challenge of money is that it has absolutely no morals at all. That does not mean it is immoral and so evil. After all it is ‘the love of money [that] is a root of all kinds of evil,’(1 Timothy 6v10) not money per se. It’s not having money, or even being without money, that is the problem, it is the chasing after it that brings disaster for poor and wealthy alike as, ‘in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.’ (1 Timothy 6v10)
We can’t blame all evil on money, its what we do with money that makes it good or evil. Money simply goes were money grows. Proof of this is the disinvestment campaign during Apartheid in South Africa (if during that time you refused to buy South African goods, thank you). It was the Disinvestment Campaign that made South Africa into an unprofitable venture. The death knell of Apartheid was sounded when Chase Manhattan Bank refused to roll over unprofitable loans, not because of a revelation for a Rainbow Nations on the part of FW De Klerk that change occurred.
Working out what to do with money is easy;
- Give a realistic percentage of your money away (people talk about between 5% and 10%)
- Give regularly. A Debit Order to the Parish Giving Scheme is better than cash in an envelope as it saves people time in counting it and ensures we always give what we intended to do
- Give efficiently. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service appreciates the work the church does and will give us back more than a pound for every four pound you give, but only if you sign up for Gift Aid.
Or as the vicar who married us said, ‘Give 10%, save 10% and the rest is yours to play with.
One final thing about money;
when, for whatever reason or cause, you give anything learn to let go. If not the saying ‘If you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you’re doing business not kindness’ becomes true for us
That is one of the ways in which we can make ‘friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth’. But to be a Shrewd Manager in the Kingdom of God is about more than manipulating the money markets.
Did you notice in the reading that the Shrewd Manager was not commended for making friends with money, in fact no money changed hands, but made friends through managing (admittedly to their detriment) someone else’s wealth?
We may not all have a surplus of money but each of us has ‘wealth’ of one kind or another to use in righteous ways. This is more difficult to manage than money.
Managing my other wealth, my place of privilege in society, the advantages given to me by an education at a Private School just across the Orwell estuary, the fact that I am a pale skinned man, I have a British Passport, my home language is English, all these give me an immense advantage in life and a ‘wealth’ that is not measured by a set of accounts.
For many of us here (and those who are reading this online and in English) we are, though we do not always realise it, in a place of immense wealth and privilege.
So, even though we may not have much disposable income to work with we are still able to use our wealth. I know that faithful people in this parish and many Christians like you, use all that they have to help those in need. Let me list the ways, Pop-up Charity Shop, Men’s Shed, Parish Nursing, Experience Church events for children, and many others. Thank you!
Be it money or not, our daily task in following the one who gave his life away for us, is to use the wealth we have so that others may prosper.
Those who come to us, those who have no wealth of any kind, those who turn to we who have, are the very same ones who will smile on us in God’s Paradise. For this is an eternal truth when we learn to ‘make friends for [ourselves] by means of dishonest wealth… [they will] welcome [us] into the eternal home.
[This blog ‘Money Talks’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2019]