First Steps – December 26, 2022

There is a word that Luke used in his gospel that is a bit unnerving.  It is diaskorpidzo (squandered or wasted).  I bet you recognize it in connection to the younger son in Luke 15.  The younger son, The Prodigal, squandered or wasted what was given to him by his father.  You know the story, the father welcomed him back into the family, no questions asked.
However, what you might not know is that the same word, diaskorpidzo, is used in the next chapter (Chapter 16) to describe the actions of the Dishonest Manager in a different parable.  He squandered what was given by the landowner.  Both of them wasted and misspent things making a mess of their lives. 

Yet, what both received was grace.  The son is welcomed back into the family and not excommunicated, and the manager is not jailed.  Both should have received punishment or at least the repercussions of their actions.  They did not get what they deserved.  Shockingly, the son received a party and the manager a commendation. 

The parable endings have always interested me.  They are open-ended.  We don’t know what the next day entailed suggesting there is no agenda to do, no makeup for the wrongs.  What we see is an open invitation to receive something one can never achieve.  This is the purpose of the parables and ultimately the heart of God—a grace giver—and it can only be received.

The celebration of Christmas is the recognition that we are, first and foremost, receivers of a gift of grace that becomes the means for one to be made whole.   Notice again the angelic message: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord…“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 This Week’s Readings:
*Monday – Luke 6
*Tuesday – Luke 7
*Wednesday – Luke 8
*Thursday – Luke 9
*Friday – Luke 10

Prayer Requests:
*Families traveling this holiday season.
*Heal those who are sick and protect those who are not.
*Comfort those who are grieving and in distress.
*Wisdom for our leaders as they navigate through uncertain times.
*Guidance for those seeking to find their way.
*Continued Growth Inside and Outside the Walls of St. Paul UMC.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6