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Christ the King / Stewardship 3 - Luke 23:33-43

On this Sunday that one of my brothers joins our church, I'm going to start with a story

about the other one, who gave me his blessing to tell it.

Christopher and I were worshipping together in Hofburg Kapelle, home of the Vienna

Boys Choir.

The boys were upstairs in a circular balcony, out of view, around and above us.

They began singing a stunning offertory a cappella.

It was the (second) closest thing to a choir of angels I have ever heard.

Their otherworldly music drew my soul upward, and I felt like I was floating up

heaven's escalator, savoring joy and beauty so pure my tingles had goose bumps.

At which point my brother whacked me on the arm.


There was desperate urgency in his voice, because the ushers were coming with the


"All I got's a twenty!"

At that moment I did not fully appreciate that this crisis warranted summoning me

back from the bosom of God; I was calm, and not very nice in my response:

"Jesus gave his life for you.

Don't give more than five."

One reason I was wrong to say that is that I advanced the toxic notion that offerings are a

kind of payoff.

Stewardship is not a quid pro quo.

The amount of money or time or talent or service we do or do not give does not

sway God or leverage favor.

It's a pity that many pastors and large donors miss this point.

Stewardship is relational, not transactional.

There is no way we can repay the exorbitant gift of God named Jesus Christ, even giving

more than twenty.

Trying is as futile and foolish as I was as a first or second grader, when I asked Mom how

much I owed her, assuming I had to pay it all back when I got a job someday and

worried about the debt I was running up.

Could we cut back on my birthday and Christmas presents maybe?

Thankfully, mother forgave me for I knew not what I was doing.

Thankfully, Christ our King does the same for us all.

It is so hard for us to wrap our highly conditioned brains around this.

A thousand years ago, Saint Anselm tried to explain the cross of Christ as a

transaction, and the western church has taught versions of his theory of atonement

as ironclad doctrinal truth ever since.

The theory goes like this: the only thing able to satisfy God's pure justice is sinless blood, which only Jesus could provide, so he had to become human and die.

Jesus was the only being with enough credit on his moral Diner's Club card to pay the

salvation bill – and Jesus paid it all!

You are bought with a price, the ransom is paid... a few of the many biblical images for a

mind-bending mystery got warped into transactional truth where God pays off

Satan, or Jesus pays off God, as if the afterworld works like the mafia.