What Do We Put Between Ourselves and God (God's Love)?

Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Proper 20 – Year C

September 22, 2019

Luke 16: 1-13

What Do We Put Between Ourselves and God (God’s love)?


           In seminary we took a variety of classes from scripture to history to preaching and more.  We had a preaching professor, who had been a Baptist preacher long before coming to the Episcopal Church.  His style of preaching was often very engaging especially when he was channeling his Baptist-preacher days.  He was great at telling a story, and I loved it when he got all worked up.  I truly love the Episcopal Church, but we could benefit from a little Baptist passion and excitement from time to time.

         One day at worship our professor took to the pulpit and stood quietly.  I relaxed in my chair ready to hear and see him knock another sermon out of the park.  And he continued to stand there silent.  Then he looked up and said, “I got nothin’.”  We all sat there in shock.  He scrunched up his face, shook his head back and forth, and said again… “I got nothin’.”

         I learned an important lesson that day.  No amount of academic training and study or years in ministry or a life dedicated to God provides a person with “the answers” to scripture.  We each must come to the reading of scripture and keep our minds and hearts open to what God is hoping to share with us. 

         And with that I invite us to look at today’s parable of the Dishonest Manager.  Wow, what a story, right?  As I read and reread this parable, my mind filled with questions.  It is a confusing parable to say the least.  So, I did what I’ve been taught to do – ask questions.  Why was the dishonest manager applauded for his behavior?  And was it a good thing for the manager to discount the bills of those who owed the landowner money or wasn’t that dishonest too?  And though I still found no answers to those questions, I noticed my eyes kept focusing on that last sentence… “You cannot serve God and wealth,” so I paid attention to that, and what kept coming to mind for me was this …

         What do we put between ourselves and God?  That’s easy, right…wealth…money…that’s what the parable says?  No, that’s not where my heart was being led.  What do we put between ourselves and being in relationship with God?  For me, it’s a variety of things.  It truly depends on the day or what’s going on in my life.  Sometimes it is worldly items – I like pretty objects and fun toys, just like other people.  Sometimes it’s fear and self-doubt or frustration and distrust.  And sometimes, when I’m feeling more grounded in my life and practicing my faith, my heart and mind are more open to God’s guidance and grace.  The Bible is full of stories about people who struggled with their faith in God and with their relationship with God.  We must not worry if we struggle too.  It’s when we disconnect and pull away from God and from our faith community that we need to worry.  God will meet us wherever we are and how ever messy we are, but it’s our choice to reach back out to God.  It’s our choice to clear that path between us –in this world, surrounded by things of this world – and the God who loves us and offers us mercy.

         In our Baptismal Covenant there are 5 questions asked of the person being baptized or the person renewing their vows.  I call them the Will you… questions.  They each begin with will you…  On October 13th when Bishop Susan comes to visit, we will renew our Baptismal Vows with her, and as part of that, she will ask us the 5 Will You Questions. 

         One asks, Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God?  By word and example…by what we say to ourselves and to others…and by what we do – how we choose to act or respond.  When we choose to be in relationship with God – when we are working on removing some of those roadblocks we put between ourselves and God, we live a life that is more grounded.  We may find our need for “things” or our fears of “not being enough” fades a little.  The more we let God’s light and love into our lives by practicing our faith, the more we may notice some semblance of peace in our lives.  We are placed on this earth to love and care for each other, not to separate ourselves from each other with wealth, status, or privilege. 

         “You cannot serve God and wealth,” are the words in today’s scripture.  So, if we choose to be in relationship with God – if we want to open our lives and hearts to God, what is one roadblock we can each gently push aside this week?  And how might it impact the quality of our life?








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