Week 4 – Creation at Risk
Fellowship – Snacks (10 minutes)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, discuss the following: “Share a story of someone who acted in a crafty or shrewd way.”
Read: Luke 16:1-13
- This is the second time (of three) that Jesus tells a parable about “a rich man.” In this story, the rich man has a manager who has been wasteful. Now let go of his responsibilities, the manager acts in way to secure favor for himself which also makes his former owner look generous (by reducing the amount owed).
- What motivates the shrewd manager to bargain and thus make friends? [His motives are selfish. Possibly to be hired by one of the other owners or just to have a place to stay once his employment ends.] Does it strike you as odd for Jesus to use a shrewd manager in a positive light? Why or why not?
- How is this parable of the shrewd manager an illustration for those who serve God as their master (16:9)? [Those with wealth should use it for kingdom purposes or make one fit to be welcomed in the eternal kingdom.]
- How is this message of Jesus similar to other stories and passages from Jesus? [see also Luke 6:38, 12:33, 14:14, 14:33. Shares themes of generosity and caring for others.]
- Read the Confession and Pardon from A Service of Word and Table in the United Methodist Hymnal:
- Merciful God,
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- This is a corporate confession. The intent is not to incite guilt. Confession is acknowledging what we have done or failed to do, as a church and as an individual, and because of God’s pardon we resolve to act differently. How might you and your congregation resolve to act differently to be wise ecological stewards that respond to the cry of the needy and display love to neighbors?
- Merciful God,
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or similar prayer:
O God, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen: You place us in your creation, and you command us to care for it. Your works declare glory and splendor, and you call us to praise and reverence. Where we have degraded or destroyed earth's bounty, forgive us. Where we have taken beauty and majesty for granted, have mercy upon us. Where we have become estranged from the creatures with whom we share this planet, grant us your peace. Renew us in the waters of baptism, refresh us with the winds of your spirit, and sustain us with the bread of life. In the name of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the new creation, we pray. Amen. (1)