In the Sanctuary at 8:30AM and 11AM -
a blended service of traditional and contemporary elements with communion

In the hall at 9:45AM
scripture, prayer, and creative response with communion

Worship each Sunday @ 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post

Our Many Gendered God

This week at Trinity Lutheran, we'll be thinking about issues of gender and the ways we still need to transform our society.  I've b...

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sermon on Luke 16:19-31 March 10, 2013
by Pastor Keith Spencer, Trinity Lutheran, Pembroke Pines

We want to believe that there are no people like Lazarus out there.
People who sit by trashcans and search for scraps, another person’s waste: rinds and bones and crumbs.  All of the stuff we were too stuffed to eat or turned up our noses at the very thought of eating.
How much broccoli do you think Lazarus ate over the course of his life?

We want to believe that there are no people like Lazarus out there.
 No roof.over their head. No one to care for them.  Covered in sores.
We want to believe that such people are lazy. That they just want a hand out.
That they don’t know an honest day’s work.
That they just mooch off the rest of us.
We so want to believe the lies we tell ourselves.
Those people we say, they have cell phones and cable and air conditioning.
We so need to believe that they are not like Lazarus so we can sleep better at night

People like Lazarus are out there.
And they don’t have cell phones
Or air conditioning.
Or cable.
And their healthcare is lousy, but perhaps about to get better.
And their dental care is non-existent.
 People like Lazarus are out there.
Invisible except to the dogs.
The dogs love Lazarus. They lick his sores.  I know few people who would dare be that friendly with anyone.

The rich man feasted sumptuously every day.
And every day Lazarus waited for the trash. to be dumped so he could eat.
Until the day came that they both died.
In the story that Jesus is telling, Lazarus goes to Father Abraham in heaven where he is comforted and the Rich Man goes to a place of fire and torment.

And the Rich Man looks up from his place of torment and sees Lazarus.
He actually notices him! He even remembers his name.
That is rather amazing!
But despite their reversal of fortune, the Rich Man refuses to acknowledge his current reality. He hasn’t learned anything, it seems.
Father Abraham, he cries out. Could you please send Lazarus down here to dip his finger in the water to cool my tongue?

Lazarus is standing right there, but the Rich Man pretends that Lazarus is invisible.
Still a nothing. A man of no consequence.
Someone to be given orders and told what to do.
Like sticking his wet finger on the rich Man’s tongue.

No can do says Father Abraham, you see there is this chasm, this Grand Canyon-sized chasm between you and us. So he can’t come down there. It is that simple That impossible.

Then we see the softer side of the Rich Man. His caring side.
Sort of.
Could you, he asks Father Abraham. Could you send Lazarus (who is still standing right there by the way) to my father’s house to warn my brothers so that they do not come to this place of torment?

Let me ask, what would the Rich Man have Lazarus say to them? How would the Rich Man ask his brothers to change their way of living in the world?  
Make sure you let the dogs lick your sores?
Was that it?

In the Bible being wealthy is not a sin.
But how that wealth impacts how we choose to relate to one another – well, that is a different story.
Does our wealth give us power that we then choose to use to create separation rather than build community?
Does that power get used over another person rather than for another person?
Is that power used justly or unjustly?
Does it reflect the very image of the in-breaking kingdom of God or some other kingdom?

Does anyone here pay taxes in Broward County?
Those taxes get used for, among other things construction projects.
Billions of dollars in projects over the past five years and into the future.
And here’s the thing. The county commission has the power to ensure that the contracts that are written for those projects set aside a portion of the jobs that they create for Broward County residents, especially those greatest hit by the economic downturn.  There are nearly 70,000 unemployed people in Broward County and in some areas the unemployment rate is nearly 27% .  San Francisco has a local hiring ordinance. East Palo Alto, California has a local hiring ordinance. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a local hiring ordinance.  Why would any elected official not want a local hiring ordinance that makes local projects founded by local taxes to uses local labor that would benefit their constituents? Reduce unemployment in their districts?
But some of ours are reluctant.

Trinity’s justice ministry is fighting with the other member churches of BOLD Justice  here in Broward County for just such an ordinance. This issue along with a second issue which addresses the abysmal reading scores of our third graders will be presented with proposed solutions at the Action Monday March 18th – we invite you to strongly consider your participation in that event. Transportation can be provided – just check the block on your worship slip. If you have questions see Janean Baumal or Ron McCoy or Denise Payne or Piper or Lisa Montalchi.

In Jesus’ parable this morning, what was God expecting that the Rich Man give up:
His wealth or his way of thinking about the world?
His wealth or his understanding about who mattered and who did not?

Please send Lazarus, he begged Father Abraham. Send him to my family so that they may not end up with the same fate as me.
And Father Abraham says that they have Moses and the Prophets, what we would call the Old Testament.

But if someone comes to them from the dead, Father Abraham, he pleads. Then they will repent.
Father Abraham is unconvinced.
And the story ends with a sense of hopelessness for the Rich Man and likely his family. And blessings for Lazarus, whose suffering has been replaced by comfort.

Since Ash Wednesday’s reading, Jesus has set his face towards Jerusalem.
That he where his journey will take him
And we know what will happen there.
He will suffer. He will die. And he will rise again.
God is about to alter our reality.
Grace poured out. Forgiveness for sins. The impossibly great chasm crossed.
In Christ Jesus, the Kingdom of God has broken in – has come near to us.
And with this grace with which God has so abundantly blessed us, how then shall we live? As Kingdom people, claimed in our baptism as God’s own daughters and sons, how will live in this new reality in which we find ourselves?

Will we dare make invisible our brothers and sisters, who are made as we in the glorious and precious image of Christ?  Or will we show our love for God, our love poured out for God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, by loving our neighbor as Christ loved them and continues to love them no matter how they live and who they are.

No comments: