In Times of Uncertainty

Sermon for Sunday March 15, 2020

Sunday of the Steward

Isaiah 56:1-57:20; Ephesians 4:17-5:14; Luke 16:1-31

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!

As I reflected upon what I could speak about today, my mind, my heart as I am sure all of our hearts and our minds could not get past the reality of what we here in the United States and majority of the people across the globe are facing. As is evident from the lack of the number of faithful physically present here in Church, as is evident by the canceling of schools, public events and workplace extended home stays, and finally as it is blatantly and sorrowfully evident through the behavior of panic and complete disregard of our neighbors needs across many grocery stores, in these times of uncertainty and sickness, we don’t know what to do. Uncertainty has gripped us all; uncertainty has crippled us; uncertainty has driven us into a life of fear. Where was the message of hope in all this?

This Sunday being the Sunday of the Unjust Steward, one sentence stood out to me more than any other in today’s parable through my reflections “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg…” When we fall onto hard times, when we lose a job, when we fail at something large or small, when we become sick – the uncertainty of what will we do next grips our hearts and minds. How will we move on? Where will we find purpose, goal and healing? How will we overcome our ailments? Perhaps the story of the Unjust Steward in its fullness is not something that resonates directly with us in this season, however, the pain and the reality of uncertainty is something we are all struggling with. Regardless of the cause for uncertainty in our lives today, whether it is something happening at home, at our workplace, in our relationships, in our minds or whether it is the sickness of the Corona virus pandemic that we do not understand, all humanity shares in the experience in the fear of what we do not know.

It is easy to say that we must be prayerful and place our trust in God. Yet, as physical creatures that live in a tangible world, who have children and parents and grandparents, who have friends and colleagues, we want to know what we can physically, tangibly do to help combat and overcome our pain, sickness and hurt. What can we do now, what can we do in this time of sickness?

It is easy to say that we must be prayerful and place our trust in God. Yet, as physical creatures that live in a tangible world, who have children and parents and grandparents, who have friends and colleagues, we want to know what we can physically, tangibly do to help combat and overcome our pain, sickness and hurt. What can we do now, what can we do in this time of sickness?

On September 11, 2001 when the horrific acts of terrorism took place in New York, as the two towers collapsed, smoke and ash filled the air. All that could be heard was the screams and cries of people in pain, looking around lost and crippled in fear. Yet, in that moment, in the blackness of smoke and agonizing cries of despair, hope was found in those same people, who were equally as lost, equally as confused and in pain, yet, they ran into the pits, into despair, people ran in and began to dig and pull, to lift and raise one another out. Did the pain go away, no, did the confusion or tragedy disappear, no. But the answer as to what do we do next was answered. What we do next is: be love.

Being love to one another means caring for one another even from a distance through our actions. Being love means not exploiting one another, spending time creating hope and strength. Going into the pit and being with others in their darkness. Love is done by not going out and hording toilet paper and water. Love is done by not thinking that the materials we have or the money we have accumulated sets us apart. In the Parable of the Unjust Steward, our Church father’s teach us that this parable is not about how we, as stewards, treat God, our master, but rather how we treat, how we are stewards to one another, to all creation. We are all stewards of this world, as was established by God at the moment of creation. Do we act out of charity? Are we just, or do we take advantage of people and oppress others? This is why the parable of the Steward is followed by the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. Material wealth, health, position, opportunities, clothes, gender, age, skin color, creed, ideologies, etc. none of these things make us better than those around us.

Rather, what lifts us up, what gives hope and clarity to us in these times of uncertainty, is the love and mercy that we as Christian’s find in the Person of Christ Jesus, which we are called to emulate.

Christ Jesus did not speak as a distant deity, but He is and was God in the flesh, who willingly suffered as we suffer. Jesus Christ chose to enter into this world of uncertainty, into our pits of despair, and face the uncertainties and struggles and pains of what it means to be human. But He was not overcome by them, but rather taught us that through Gods love and through our own actions in that love, we too can overcome those uncertainties and sicknesses.

Does that mean we don’t get sick? No. Does it mean that we don’t suffer and magically gain all the answers? Not likely. What it means is that we go through uncertainty and pain, we face it, fight it and rise above it and we do it together. When we buy food for our families, maybe we also buy something extra we can drop off for someone who doesn’t have the ability to go out and shop. When we buy cases of bottled water or food, we can also but an extra case and hand it out to those people living the streets that will only of tents as their areas of care and quarantine. I saw a number of people this week post online (and I also took it and posted it) that if there are any families or people we know who are unable to go to the store or are financially unable to make purchases in these hard times, to contact one another, anonymously, and help would be given.

That is what we do, my dear brothers and sister. That is our hope and answer in these uncertain times. In life, sickness and disease, failure and pain, fear and lies are present and evident not because we don’t wash our hands, but because we use our hands, our mouths, our eyes and ears as tools that only serve our own desires and we ignore our neighbors. St. John Chrysostom writes that lions and tigers out of their nature devour out of hunger to eat. Yet, humanity, which has been given the ability to think, speak, learn and grow, we fail and are worse than the wild animals because we go against our own nature of the Divine image. Yes, this corona virus and many other sicknesses like it have come and gone and will happen again. How will we respond? What will we do next?What kind of Stewards will we be to one another?

My prayer is that in this Lenten season, in these last few weeks, which is meant to be a season of charity, mercy, fasting and repentance, let us face the uncertainty with the desire to do good, the hope to do greater good and with the love that can heal all fear. Let us act with wisdom in a way that makes us good and worthy stewards and servants – examples of light in dark places, hope in fear and love in the face of hate and may the grace, hope and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of all the heavenly saints be with us all, Amen.

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