When believers gather, one of the most important things we do is tell stories. The most important stories we tell are stories about Jesus, what he said and did. Remembering Jesus shapes our lives, including our thoughts, conversations, and behaviors about buying, selling, saving, budgeting, investing, giving, earning, and anything else we do with our money.
When we relate the Jesus stories to our economic behavior, we do not find obvious and easy applications. And so we act as a community of discernment - testing our answers and our applications together. We need each other for this vital task; we urgently need to do it well, otherwise the answers we come up with will be tainted by bitterness, division, and self-interest.
Are we developing answers that are appropriate to the circumstances? Most important, are we developing answers that are appropriate to the memory of Jesus? We tell stories about Jesus, and we remember Jesus, and together we engage in the kind of discourse that is consistent with our stories - we speak the truth in love, we deliberate, we give and hear reasons, we discern together and we shape our obedience.
I'm harvesting these ideas from Allen Verhey's wonderful book, Remembering Jesus - Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life. It's a terrific book in so many ways, but for deacons Section 4 is splendid: "Remembering Jesus in the World of Adam Smith" pp 241-349. Within that section, Chapter 15 is pure gold, "The Continuing Church and a Continuing Tradition of Justice and Generosity." What is so splendid about it? Among other things, it is a rich mine of ideas for how deacons could foster helpful dialog and discernment in the Body.
Deacons who tell the right stories, and guide the right conversations about them, do their congregations a huge service.
So here's what I'm wondering: How can deacons help us achieve excellence in bringing our stories of Jesus to bear on every square inch of our economic lives, both as individuals and as congregations, AND doing that with grace and wisdom?
What do you think? Do you have a story?