Today's Lectionary Text
Luke 12:41-48Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming," and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Aug. 13 my daughter started her first day of first grade at a new school. As I often do on these milestone days, I looked back at pictures, from those first few months as a preemie in the NICU on through to her emergence as the smart, confident, sassy 6-year-old I sent off to school today. People said these years would go by in a flash, and they were right.
When she was a tiny little baby, my daughter needed constant attention and care. As she’s grown, she has incrementally learned to take care of herself, to speak up for her needs, to make choices and plans, to exercise patience, responsibility and self-control. And as she continues to mature, my responsibilities as a parent also change: My job now is not to care for her every need or desire, but to prepare her to care for herself within the structure of a safe and supportive family so that when her parents are not there, she is prepared to make wise choices with confidence and maturity.
This new job description has been a bit of a challenge. At the first sign of adversity or possible error, my initial impulse is still almost always to intercede and/or interfere. At the first sign of adversity, you can hear the whir of the engines and feel the rush of wind from the blades as this helicopter parent swoops in to fix it, or micromanage my children into begrudgingly fixing even their smallest mistakes.
I wish I could say that I have grown and matured as much as my daughter has in these last six years, but I am still very much a work in progress.
There are times it is far easier for me to just take care of something for my kids, rather than giving them the time and space to learn through experience and the inevitable mistakes. But how does that prepare my daughter for those times — like today — when I’m not there to hover overhead?
Jesus could have given us a highly detailed, step-by-step instruction manual that outlined every answer to every question, free of ambiguity or any need for interpretation. God could have created us without any self-agency or free will, so that we would never run the risk of committing a single sin.
But God’s love is not controlling or possessive. God gives us many gifts, offers us unconditional love, and reminds us (like any good parent, I think) that we are always capable of doing more, being more, giving more.
With today’s passage, it is easy to get caught up in the terrifying consequences of failing to do God’s will by living out a theology of “Jesus is coming soon; look busy.” But there is another lesson in this parable: Jesus taught us a better way that offers us everything that we need to live as his disciples. Let us give thanks for the gifts we have been given and get to work in building the Kingdom of God.
— Scott Brewer
Treasurer & Director of Administration
Prayer for Reflection
Loving God, we thank you for preparing us for the work of your Kingdom. We appreciate the gifts you've given us so that we can reach others for You. Help us to recognize the talents you have provided, and help us to put those talents to use in our world today. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.
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