OUR COMMUNITY NEWS FOR TODAY AND THE COMING WEEK
Interpreting a difficult parable
Today’s gospel reading has the difficult parable of the unjust steward. It’s difficult because it seems that Jesus is suggesting that dishonesty is the best policy if things are looking bad for you. Why would the master commend the steward for his actions, and why would Jesus suggest that his actions were worthy?
To begin with, we really need to put the parable into its first century context and the business model that was common at the time (and may still be in some ways, I’ll explain later). The steward did not receive a wage from his master; instead, he was ‘paid’ by adding a percentage to the amount borrowed from the master by his debtors (his customers or clients) as his ‘fee’. The master wouldn’t necessarily know how much the steward had added. So when the steward collected the money owed to the master, he would deduct his ‘fee’ and give the rest to the master.
We’re told that the steward was ‘unrighteous’, so we can assume that the steward’s percentage (his ‘commission’) was probably exorbitant. So, when the master found out that the steward was doing the wrong thing and he gave the steward notice, the steward then set about reducing his ‘fee’ and perhaps even wiping it out altogether, in order to curry favour with his master’s customers in the hope that one of them might employ him once he had been sacked.
When the master found out what had happened, it is thus not necessarily surprising that he commended the steward on his forethought!
Too far-fetched? Yet we have ample evidence of such sharp practice today where the middleman lives off percentage commissions and trailing commissions and if it were not for laws requiring disclosure of fees and commissions, the gates would be wide open for the possibility of extortion. It’s not surprising that Jesus ended up saying “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money”. (Editor)
Pray for our business world, for the owners, board members, employees and customers. Pray particularly for those whose businesses exploit the poor. Pray for those who are unemployed.
UNITING’s Annette Kelly-Egerton
Since Uniting came into being two years ago, a cluster of agencies in Ballarat, Wyndham and Barwon has formed, and now has Annette Kelly-Egerton as its Executive Officer, located at the Ballarat office.
“Uniting inherits a remarkable legacy—a history going back 30, sometimes 40 years of congregations initiating outreach to vulnerable people in local communities. The task before us is to build on that. Everywhere there are changing needs; for example, we are working with young families at risk, and older underemployed folk on low incomes,” she says.
Annette continues: “We at Uniting want to continue engaging with our church members and the wider community, working together for common goals. Now that we have a strong State-wide organisation in Victoria and Tasmania, we are developing policy, spelt out in policy papers; Uniting wants to share these papers for discussion and feedback with church members. I’m happy to provide these to Crossroads congregation, Justice Task Group and your Church Council.”
“Now that Uniting is bringing together the experience and expertise of diverse agencies like Kildonan Family Services, for example, tackling the issues underlying family violence, we can share each other’s best practice across the State, and with other States,” she says.
“The State of Victoria has the highest number of children needing foster care, and agencies can’t keep up with demand. Uniting is actively recruiting foster parents; we are glad to involve congregations and church members, as we promote this work in print and social media.”
“I look forward to sharing the journey, as we together enter new, unmapped areas of human need”, says Annette. Let’s keep the people and the work of Uniting in our prayers. (NT)
Worship Plan for this week
Today’s worship services
9.30 am Family Service (Rev. Valerie Johnson)
11.45 am Lisu Service
2 pm Sudanese Fellowship
Activities this week
Friday: 5 pm African Youth (church foyer)
Saturday: 10 am African Youth (church foyer);
6.30pm STAN at Stacey Duckett’s home
Bible Readings – 22 September 2019
Jeremiah 32:1–3a, 6–15; I Timothy 6:6–19; Luke 16:19–31; Psalm 91:1–6, 14–16.
Rosters for Next Week
Rosters for 29 September 2019
Minister: Rev. Dennis LaWu (Lisu Congregation)
Duty Elder: Wendy Barnes
Morning Tea: Sandra Savory & Margaret Forrester
Flowers: Mary Dixon
Reader: Elizabeth Barnes
AV Desk: Paul Kirkman
Prayers of the People: Sandra Savory
Piano: Asanka Pakura
Housekeeping & Help
If you or someone you know is in need of pastoral care, please don’t hesitate to contact either Robyn Tomkins or Robert Renton. We’re keen to make sure that when people know that someone has gone into hospital or is otherwise ‘out of sorts’, that they are not forgotten. If we don’t know that someone has suffered some misfortune we are not likely to be able to visit or offer support in some way; so please let us know in such a circumstance.
Amplify—2019 Youth Caucus
Young people aged 16–21 are gathering at Aitken College, Greenvale, on Saturday 9 November for a day of worship, fellowship and celebration. It will be an opportunity for the congregation to sponsor four young people to attend. Attendance is free for attendees, and registrations are now open via the website https://victas.uca.org.au/amplify/. This is an opportunity for the leaders of our church to connect and listen to the hopes, hurts and visions of young people. For more information, contact Brandon French on 0429 220 711. If you have a nomination of a young person, please contact Margaret Gook, Church Council secretary.
For your diary…
2019 Multi-Faith Dinner, at the Encore Centre, 6.30 pm on Wednesday October 23. Guest Speaker Bishop Philip Huggins - cultural dancers, Jonathan Welch Peace Choir, religious trivia quiz, and more! Tickets $25. Booking arrangements on line, very soon...
Bible reading roster
Would you be interested in joining the bible reading roster? An opportunity will be created for interested people to be given some training and support. Contact Julie Rees after church.
CBD Walking tour of three well-known churches
On Tuesday 24 September, the Uniting Church Historical Society is running a guided walking tour of Collins Street Baptist Church, Scots’ Church, and St Paul’s Cathedral.
We assemble outside Collins Street Baptist Church ready for a 10.30am start. Please make your own lunch arrangements although tables will be reserved at Elements Cafe, 120 Collins Street.
Please RSVP with your name, phone and email to Geoff Paterson today on 0448740195 or email email@example.com.
UC Intercultural Forum
Join us for a 2 and a half day retreat where we will share stories and reflect deeply on what a vibrant multicultural church feels like. All Uniting Church members are welcome, including ministers, lay people, leaders and others.
When: October 7th – October 9th
Where: Grantville Lodge, 200 Grantville-Glen Alvie Road, Grantville
Cost: Two Nights $160 or One night $100
Register: Contact the JIM unit at the Synod Offices or https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=535251&
CHURCH OFFICE AND NEWSLETTER
Church Office is open 9.30 am–12 noon, Monday–Friday
Telephone 03 9741 1084. Postal address is PO Box 2156 Werribee 3030.