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27C Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4 / 2 Timothy 1:6-8; 13-14 / Luke 17:5-10

Sometimes, I really don’t like Jesus–
I mean really don’t like Him.

He can be just like my best friend
who knows me so well—
that He knows just which buttons to push
to knock me off my high horse.

And I’ve learned to thank my best friend for it—
And I’ve learned to thank Jesus too—
I belong on no high horse

Well, todays’ Gospel
is one of those occasions.

I looked back at the previous homilies
I’ve preached on this Sunday—
and it was always about faith—
the first thing Jesus talked about in today’s Gospel.

I’ve kind of resisted preaching on this Gospel—
It hit too close to home.

Jesus wants me off my high horse
so I can soar with Him
to heights much higher than
when I’m when sitting on a horse.

In this parable of the unworthy servant—
Jesus uses the characters of a worker and
his boss to get his message across.

The worker goes out into the field and
does what he has been hired to do—
tending the sheep and plowing the field.

We know that the worker is getting
much more—
much more—
than a fair wage
because the boss in the story represents God.

And after the worker has done the
first part of his job—
the work in the field—
it’s time for the worker to come in and
do the second part of his job—
fixing supper for his boss.

So far—
So good. . . .

The worker is doing just what was agreed upon—
and is getting much more than a fair wage for doing it.

But instead of being thankful for his situation—
the worker demands that
the boss cook supper for him.

I can hear exactly what’s going on in the worker’s mind:

“Look at all I do for you!!!”

“I deserve that you cook me supper!!!”

Great story isn’t it!!!!!

When I went to seminary—
the faculty gathered all the
pre-theology class in a room.

And as an ice-breaker,
they had us each introduced ourselves. . .

Where we were from—
And what we did before we came to the seminary.

It was a very diverse group.

Some were right out of college—
but most had been out in the work force.

There was a physicist and a carpenter. . .

There was a financial planner and a cab driver. . . .

There was a professor and a bar tender.
Then they had everyone who made over
$25,000 a year stand up. . .

everyone stood up..

Then they said if you made over $50,000—
remain standing—
a few sat down.

The game continued until the last
people standing had made a few
hundred thousand dollars a year
before they came to seminary

And as the dollar figure rose—
the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” got louder and
louder in the room.

The whole point was to show how much people
had given up to come to the seminary.

“Look at me!”
“Look at me!”

Look what I am giving up for God.

Now, I’m so embarrassed by that story.

How I wish—
just as the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s”
were getting louder—

that Jesus Himself would have
walked into the room.

The wounds in his hands and in his feet showing. . . .

And visible were the scars on
his forehead from the crown of thorns. . . .

And a tinge of dried blood on his shirt
from where the spear was thrust into his side. . .

And I know what would have happened if
our Lord had walked in that room. . . .

all the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” would have
been rightly directed at Jesus.

And we would have all thought:

“Oh my!!!”

“Look what God did for us!!!”

“Look at how much God loves us!!!”

I also imagined that I was playing
a poker game with God.

And the cards in our hands represented the
sacrifices we had made—
represented how much we loved each other.

I’m so proud and excited to lay down
my cards down first—

And so I reveal my hand—
a pair of two’s.

And then God just lays down one card.

It’s a King—
and it’s King Jesus—
nailed to a cross.

Game over.

I also imagine this as
looking at a bank ledger.

On my side of the ledger is how much I love God—
Maybe a hundred dollars or a thousand. . . .

And on God’s side of the ledger—
representing how much God loves me—
a billion trillion dollars.

A billion trillion dollars!!!

My only response . . . .

“Thank you God!!!”

“Thank you Jesus!!!”

“I am not worthy of such love!!!”

“I want to love you more!!!”

We can now see what the original sin of
the unworthy servant is. . . .

He didn’t realize how much his boss was doing for him. . . .
He didn’t realize how much his boss loved him.

Is there any “Good News” in this
parable of the unworthy servant.

Oh yes. . . .

It’s all “Good News.”

First, the really “Good News” is
realizing how much we are loved by God.

And the billion trillion dollars—
it’s only speaking figuratively.

There is really no number that
can capture how much God loves us.

I got a promotional ad from
Spectrum the other day.

They offered me a great deal.

And the reason I was offered such a great deal
according to Spectrum. . . .
is because somehow I’ve earned it.

When it comes to God—
We don’t have to earn it!!!

And what a deal!!!

A billion trillion dollars—
And it’s all gift.

How else is the parable “Good News.”

It’s “Good News” because it allows Jesus
to challenge us—
and therefore give us true self-knowledge.

That’s always a gift—
Both the good about myself made in
God’s image and likeness—
And the not so good.

When I know the not so good I can
ask God to help me get rid of it—
So I can truly soar.

This parable pointed out my pride—
and pride will usually lead to resentment.

And it exposed how impure my love can be.

Do I do things purely out of love—
Or is it a selfish love—
subconsciously trying to manipulate God.

God, please help me realize
that your love is free—
and unconditional.

And even more “Good News” . . .

Is that if that one measly cent that I give
back to God is an act of pure love—
pure love. . . .

God will combine that one hundred dollars
or whatever of pure love
with His billion trillion dollars of love—
and do incredible things with it!!!!

That kind of pure love is what keeps
the world turning.

And if that’s not enough—
perhaps the greatest news for a prideful sinner like me. . . .

is that if Jesus had walked in that seminary room
where we all bragging about how much
we had given up for God.

His wounds would have been visible—
But His arms would be outstretched.

He wouldn’t try to embarrass us
about how little we have given back to Him—

but with arms outstretched he would love us
more and more and more—

and keeping on giving us a billion trillion dollars—
and another—
and another—
until we get it—
until we realize how much He loves us.

Holy Spirit 10/5-6/2019