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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Who do we serve?


9/17



There was an  explosion in Chelsea last night. Do we even know what happened yet? It’s hope we live now….

Went to see  the TONY award winning play “The Humans” last week. A very powerful new play. About the struggles of a normal middle class family. Chinatown gentrifying daughter with crushing student debt, an attorney daughter who just lost her job, a father now working for Walmart. Ultimately all have common  issues. Job loss, crippling student debt, a mother who’s been ignored after 40 years in the same job… 

One of the reviews references a new report that says that for the first time in decades, life expectancy for middle class white males is dropping. And the suicide rate is hitting early AIDS like levels. 

So do we really have to wonder where the Trump support is coming from? It’s not just a "basket of deplorables.” Mainstream liberals have been so caught up  in identity issues, they have ignored class issues. a whole class feel like despite doing what they’ve been told, it juts doesn’t work…

Sweatshop Free Upper West Side is back again. It’s unique coalition,workers documented and un-, unionized and un-, cities and not, church people, neighbors, politicians, and most of all small businesses. They’ve won victories. And victories. Never lost a court case. Over 100 small businesses signed a pledge to obey the fair labor laws. Indus Valley workers. Won their case. A $700000 judgment. So Indus reorganized as  “Manhattan Valley”…and has been ordered to pay $110,000 in back wages..and fired workers who organized, Turns out this is a common solution  ….. some have done this several  times over. (We have a candidate who’s an expert at this strategy….) If it were parking tickets, these businesses would be declared  “scoffaw.” Denver boots applied to their wheels. We need an economic “boot.” We ant them not driving that car anywhere…

Jeremiah is the blues singer for his people. Looking for a balm in Gilead.

Jesus tells us a lengthy story. Another head scratcher of a parable. What’s going on?

Maybe it’s intended to be humorous. Maybe it’s against the scribes and pharisees. The wily manager wins favor for his master by reducing the debt.  But maybe it’s more. Maybe Jesus is saying we will subvert the order by forgiving. And the last lines are not confusing at all…

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”


Who do we serve? 
That is a decision we have to make as individuals, and as a church….

                  * * * * 

Of course we had to sing Balm in Gilead…and I decided to sing  Dylan’s Serve somebody 
again….even without Jeremy…( miss you man…)


You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high-degree thief
They may call you doctor or they may call you chief


You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say
Still, you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
                                       
                                            ****

Tears are streaming down her face. I invite her to come in off the steps. I can’t take it any more, she says, as she describes the abuse she’s been receiving from her partner, let’s say Norman, who was born, let’s say Jill.  Too many weeks on the street. Both off their meds. 

She’s maybe 40 something. A bit heavy. She never wanted to leave Erie where they had a section 8. But Jill had to come high  to the city. They met in prison. She’s open. About prostitution. Substance issues. I can still see the beauty there. And the sadness is profound. But it’s hard, she says, Jill was in for 18 years…almost 5 in solitary…I mean how do you be normal? And both of us, off our meds…can’t live like that…self-medicate, you know?…but I can’t be dragged down…

I use the airplane analogy…the oxygen mask drops…you put yours on first before for the child…if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t help anyone else…

She nods. Thanks me. Tears are stopping. She turns to go back to the corner where they’re hanging. I think of the neighbor, his face twisted as he described her to me as disgusting….the kind of person he didn’t want to see in his gentrified neighborhood. An angel unaware? Child of God. Enough.



First Reading Jeremiah 8:18-9:1


18My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. 19Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?" ("Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?") 20"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." 21For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. 22Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
1O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! Gospel

 Luke 16:1-13
1Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' 3Then the manager said to himself, '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. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' 5So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6He answered, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' 7Then he asked another, 'And how much do you owe?' He replied, 'A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill and make it eighty.' 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
10"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."


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