The Remedy for Greed

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday comes from Luke 14 and it is one of the more familiar Gospel passages, especially verse 11, “11Foreveryone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”   Jesus tells us not to lift ourselves up but to humble ourselves before God. This is well and good, but leaves the question, “how do I put this into practice in my life?” Fortunately for us, the Gospel reading for this Sunday also includes the next three verses:

12He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

We are to live our lives in humble service to others; never seeking reward for ourselves but, instead, caring for those who have no way of paying us back.

Our hymn of the day for this Sunday expresses these truths in a fitting and powerful way. Son of God, Eternal Savior was written in 1893 by Somerset Thomas Corry Lowry (you know it’s going to be good if the author has four names), a Cambridge educated Anglican priest.  Lowry has given us a hymn that is full of biblical truth and insight. Here’s stanza 1:

Son of God, eternal Savior,

Source of life and truth and grace,

Word made flesh, whose birth among us

Hallows all our human race,

You our Head, who, throned in glory,

For Your own will ever plead:

Fill us with Your love and pity,

Heal our wrongs, and help our need.

There is so much beautiful Christology in this first stanza that it’s hard to know where to begin.  If you wish, you may get our your bible and follow along with the references. Jesus, the Son of God, truly is our source of life and truth and grace (John 14:6).  He is the Word made flesh (John 1) and He has made us into His holy people (1 Peter 2).  Now that Christ has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, he sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).  We end the stanza with a fervent prayer and Jesus would fill us with His love and pity, with the compassion that he showed to those in need during His earthly ministry.  We also ask that He would right what we have wronged and help us in all our needs. Now for stanza 2:

As You, Lord, have lived for others,

So may we for others live.

Freely have Your gifts been granted;

Freely may Your servants give.

Yours the gold and Yours the silver,

Yours the wealth of land and sea;

We but steward of Your bounty

Held in solemn trust will be.

We pray in this second stanza that our lives may reflect the love that Jesus shows to us.  He has given all things to us freely, without any merit or worthiness in us.  That’s the kind of love we are to share with those around us.  If we refuse to help those in need because we feel that they somehow don’t deserve it, then we aren’t really reflecting the kind of compassionate love that Christ has shown to us.  God has given us earthly possessions, money, and income as a tool to be used to show that compassionate love to the world.

Stanza 3:

Come, O Christ, and reign among us,

King of love and Prince of Peace;

Hush the storm of strife and passion,

Bid its cruel discords cease.

By Your patient years of toiling,

By Your silent hours of pain,

Quench our fevered thirst of pleasure,

Stem our selfish greed of gain.

Here, in stanza 3, Lowry takes us to the cross.  He presents the cross as the one thing that silences the storm of our greed-filled sinful world.  We pray that the cross may silence the selfish greed in our hearts.

Stanza 4:

Son of God, eternal Savior,

Source of life and truth and grace,

Word made flesh, whose birth among us

Hallows all our human race:

By Your praying, by Your willing

That Your people should be one,

Grant, O grant our hope’s fruition:

Here on earth Your will be done.

Lowry beings this last stanza by repeated the Christology from the first. He then ends with a prayer that we will live in unity. We pray that God’s will be done. We know His will is done without our prayer, but we pray that it may be done among us also as we share the love of Christ with the world.

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