Ordinary Time: Proper 20

Big Fish and the Perils of the Fishery by Mark Wagner — American currency collage, 5 1/2 x 4 feet. Photo by Mark Wagner, Inc.

September 18, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year C

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 and Psalm 79:1-9 • Amos 8:4-7 and Psalm 113 • 1 Timothy 2:1-7 • Luke 16:1-13
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Image description: Below a sky featuring a full radiant sunburst, a large whale form plunges straight up out of the ocean. A small row boat full of men (identical George Washingtons) has been jostled by the whale such that some of the men are being thrown from the boat. One man stands at the back of the boat about to hurl a large spear at the beast. A large sailing vessel can be seen in the distance. From the dark waters below a large open hand reaches towards the men in the small boat. The ocean waves are recognizably American one-dollar bills.

Do not hold the sins of our ancestors against us, but send Your compassion to meet us quickly, God. We are in deep despair. Help us, O God who saves us, to the honor and glory of Your name. Pull us up, deliver us, and forgive our sins, for Your name’s sake. — Psalm 79:8-9

If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities. If you’re crooked in small responsibilities, you’ll be no different in bigger things. If you can’t even handle a small thing like money, who’s going to entrust you with spiritual riches that really matter? If you don’t manage well someone else’s assets that are entrusted to you, who’s going to give over to you important spiritual and personal relationships to manage? Imagine you’re a servant and you have two masters giving you orders. What are you going to do when they have conflicting demands? You can’t serve both, so you’ll either hate the first and love the second, or you’ll faithfully serve the first and despise the second. One master is God and the other is money. You can’t serve them both. — Luke 16:10-13

Isn’t cutting up (destroying) money illegal? Well, yes, technically, and yet that hasn’t stopped Mark Wagner from doing just that. He’s become quite a sought after artist with shows and collectors wanting more of what he creates from American currency. I find Mark’s work to be a good match for contemplating the Gospel passage this week.

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. View the artwork
    What do you see?

    Note shapes – color – style – movement
    What stands out for you?
    What are you curious about?
    What questions do you have?
    Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
  2. Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
    What connections do you make?

    Between the image and text?
    What is coming to mind from your own experience?
    What feelings are rising in you?
    Are you uncomfortable with something?
    There are no right or wrong answers
  3. Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
    What do you hear?

    What is God saying to you?
    What do you wish to speak to God?
    What blessing or prayer is rising in you?

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