Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13.

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots.

Undoubtedly, the story Jesus tells of the dishonest steward can be a challenge to understand, let alone preach; however for our benefit many commentators have sifted through the details of the story to find its essence.

Here are some important points to consider:

This story should be read with the same humorous and exaggerated bent that the image of a plank in an eye, a camel sliding through the eye of a needle or a man being forgiven the equivalent of 10,000 talents (representing the wages for one day of work from a first century worker for 150,000 years) employs.

The main character in this story is the steward and not the boss.

The steward does not deny his sinfulness.

The steward does not suffer from a lack of self-knowledge. He readily admits that he is not strong enough to dig and he is ashamed to beg.

Nowhere does Jesus applaud the dishonesty of the steward.

Nowhere in the conclusion does the steward win his job back.

The only commendation is that the steward acted shrewdly.

The story has to do with how one responds in crisis -- in this case with the utmost shrewdness.

I believe that the PUNCH of this story is the following: I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

In other words, take your assets, your gifts, your shrewdness, your drive of self-preservation and your self-knowledge and spend it on that which is lasting -- that which has true value -- that which can not be stolen or taken away by hands: such as friendship, faith, and love.

Be shrewd, discerning and calculating.

This point may be coupled with the command from the Gospel of John to act fully IN the world but not to be OF the world.

During this past week we have witnessed many, many examples of this. We have seen people from every corner of the country and of the world contribute to the relief efforts in New York shrewdly using any gift they possess: Steelworkers cutting steel at ground zero; cooks volunteering their time to feed relief workers; hardware store owners from around the country sending goods to New York and DC; entertainers & rock stars using their talents to raise money; psychologists offering their services for free to the afraid; elementary school teachers having their students make cards of support to families and workers touched by this tragedy, chiropractors and massage therapists providing relief to the muscles and joints of workers coming off of the rescue scene; and people with both enormous wealth and modest means generously contributing their treasure to where it can be translated into love. The examples could go on and on.

Jesus does not ask us to be dishonest this weekend. Jesus asks to act fully in the world. Jesus asks us to be shrewd about how we navigate our way to focusing on the important, lasting, holy road to salvation that is paved with acts of love.

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