The Debts We Owe
Sharon, However the question is "phrased," it still is an excellent way of thinking about our (social contracts....which is what they are) relationships...one to another; one to society.
More on Jubilee. It seems to be the Jewish answer to debt piled up on future generations, setting everyone back to a new beginning after 2-3 generations (50 years) of privilege and wealth gaps. Piling up on sin does much the same, enslaving us to futures with no hope without the debt relief/forgiveness that only God in Christ can manage.
My understanding of the Way of Jesus is that I owe no person any debt except to love them. In all circumstances, without exception, and without any expectation of return on my love. After all, it is not "my" love, but the love of Christ that I am sharing with them. And that I fall into "sin" when I ignore this, forget this, or contravene it. That is the reason I pray forgive [me] my debts/sins as I forgive others.
Diane, while reading the last chapter in Campbell’s ‘Myths to Live By’ was reminded of your beautiful reflection. In that chapter Campbell talks about the awe from seeing our planet; our fragile earth from the distance of time and space.
Have a great week.
We sand a hymn yesterday in Contemporary Service that caused this reading to surge through me all over again.. “Your signature on a check won’t do it…”🎶
A big Wow on these words, this article..Thank you once again…
Thanks for this wonderful reminder of the unity of freedom and forgiveness, the unity of debt and sin.
If it's true that Judaism and Jesus both envision a debt-free world (and I believe it is true), why aren't congregations working on this vision? Wasn't economic freedom through solidarity a primary appeal of the early church?
"No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, for everything was held in common. … There was never anyone among them in need ..." (Acts 4:32, 34)
If today only 1% of Christian churches are embodying this vision, aren't the other 99% of churches missing something that original Christians considered essential? Without some kind of embodiment of freedom from debt, it seems that modern Christianity either (1) does not care about early Christian examples, (2) does not know about them, or (3) does not understand how to follow them today.
To be fair, it is not easy in 2023 to make the leap, from capitalism and debt, to collectivism and economic freedom, in a way that is practical for many people. It was not easy for early Christians. May our generation revive this vision on a larger scale, making the good news feel like good news again, making the good news real, here and now.
This parable is shocking because so few have heard such a radical (meaning at the root or foundational) interpretation of it, and it is also shocking that so few have been given the opportunity.
Thank you for this Sunday Musing! I think it’s very challenging to imagine a debt-free world. I had always thought the problem was predatory lending, not lending or debt in general. Is this wrong? How could people afford homes without mortgages? I love taking business away from pawn shops, and am completely on board with eliminating predatory lending, but how to go totally debt free? Any help imagining how to put this into practice would be appreciated!
Diana, one of the valued gifts I have received as a result of joining the Cottage community is an introduction to the music of Carrie Newcomer. Her lyrics are thought-provoking, comforting, encouraging, sometimes disturbing and more. I followed one of the links in the Cottage newsletter to one of her songs and I've been hooked ever since. I look forward to the conversation with her on the upcoming Cottage podcast.
As I read these sentences jumped out at me. The forgiven slave didn't "pass it on" - then
"Why does he do this? Ultimately, I think the answer is fairly simple: the man couldn’t imagine anything different"
It seems that we are all "caught" in our way of thinking and change is a challenge.
Diana, you will love Myers Park Baptist’s Ben Boswell’s sermon today. Powerful call to Jubilee and becoming debt abolitionists.
Are you also going to the Texas tribune festival? Same weekend! Wish I could get to Austin!
I don't know about this one. I like to think context is everything. It's a parable, after all, getting at what Jesus means by "seventy times seven" (maybe just in case Peter should ask, "Can I stop at offense number 78?") And Peter's query follows Jesus teaching about repentance and forgiveness in the Church. At least, that's how 'Matthew' uses the material. I think this is about relationships broken and reconciled. If money happens to be involved, that's one situation among countless possibilties. Besides, the debt in the story is ridiculous. That's the point. It's about doing for one another what God has done for us beyond calculation. Matthew the tax collector ripped people off with the government standing close by. So repentance for him didn't just mean ceasing that behavior, but reparation. Now there's a good place to begin about economic justice. But that, too, was put into a context of Jesus eating with "sinner", outcasts. And the thrust of that story is that if we don't think we're in need of the same physician 'cause we're so righteous, Jesus isn't any good to us. When Matthew's Jesus comments on the petition about forgiveness using a word for wrongdoing, any wrongdoing. The application is clearly much broader than financial debts, tho' within the Matthean church that, no doubt, would be included. Matthew 7:1-5 drives home the same theme, hardly economic in and of itself. It's all about MERCY (9:13), a huge matter for Matthew. Hence the pinacle or center piece of the beatitudes, dramatized in the story of the coming of the Son of Man in chapter 25:31-46. BTW, it's about how "the nations" treat "the least of his", tho', again, no doubt the same was expected of the church community. After all, for Matthew, the Kingdom is to be exemplified by the Church.
Thank you for bringing Carrie Newcomer to an interview on Zoom
I was able to hear her perform live at a local campus several years ago
She also has a podcast with the poet Parker Palmer : the Growing Edge
She is a national treasure
I have never thought about others being indebted to me. Where have I missed opportunities to release those indebted to me, without having them feel that they are indebted to my gift of forgiveness. I am going to take some time to reflect on this deep question.