Luke’s parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus is so powerful, and still so timely for each of us. In it, Jesus presents an unnamed rich man (meaning it could be any rich man, not just a certain one), so comfortable in his wealth and abundance that he doesn’t even notice the hungry man, named Lazarus, at his gate.
This is a parable of contrasts:
The Rich Man is clothed in purple and fine linens
Lazarus, is in rags and covered in sores
The Rich Man feasts sumptuously
Lazarus longs for even the scraps that fall from the Rich Man’s table
The contrasts continue after death:
Lazarus is comforted in the arms of Father Abraham
The Rich Man is in misery and is tortured by flames
Like I said on Sunday, this isn’t a parable about heaven and hell, although some across the centuries have cited this passage to remind the unrepentant sinner that they are bound for hell.
Sure, you can read heaven and hell into this parable. But I want to challenge you to read this parable as a parable about the HERE and NOW.
Listen to how Jesus develops this parable. After death, the Rich Man begs to have Lazarus come quench his thirst (now he knows Lazarus’ name? and here, even in death he expects Lazarus to serve him?! The gall of this guy! ! !). When that can’t happen the Rich Man wants Father Abraham to go to his five living brothers and warn them. When Father Abraham says “no,” the Rich Man begs that Lazarus could go and warn them. He says, “Surely they will change their ways if someone comes back from the grave to warn them!”
Father Abraham replies, “They have Moses and the Prophets. If they can’t believe them, neither will they believe it if someone is resurrected and appears to them.”
And that’s how I know this parable is about the here and the now.
Friends, not only do we have Moses and the Prophets — we DO have a resurrected savior who has taught us to care for the hungry, the poor, the weak, the lame, the blind.
But how many of us live in comfort, feasting sumptuously, while Lazarus lies at our gate, covered in sores?
It’s a tough question, but it is relevant and powerful, and it should remind us that we are called to do more than chase after our own comfort and abundance. We should not be able to rest at night if we know that even one child has gone to bed hungry.
Yet sleep we do — and comfortably. Sometimes we don’t sleep too well because we have indigestion from eating too much — isn’t that ironic!?
Would we live differently if someone were to come back from the dead to warn us that there are others suffering right in our own backyard?
That, my friends, is food for thought. May you chew, slowly and deliberately, on the message that Jesus’ parable speaks to you. And may you, with open eyes, seek to serve Lazarus wherever he may be.
Spotlight on Extravagant Generosity ’17
CEH Extravagant Generosity Stewardship
In the parable of the Samaritan Jesus is calling us to “re-imagine the world” in a whole new way. Jesus is calling us NOW, to a re-imagined world of unconditional, open hearts, open minds, open arms compassion towards all. He expects us to go, now.
A re-imagined world of compassion is our call to stewardship for 2017 at Church of the Eternal Hills.
How do we show this type of compassion to all?
Through Our Nurture and Care of our Pastor and Staff
We are profoundly committed to a joyous and growing ministry for all. Paula’s inspiration and leadership has re-invigorated our youth ministries through youTHursdays, Fall Festival, our new Service Stations, Playtime Drama Club, Joyful Noise Choir, high school Tuesday Bible study, Grand Mission Experience, Mystery Friends and many more programs. And more kids and their families are responding to these programs as participation increases each month.
This success along with other expanding ministries of our church has placed a tremendous time burden on our pastor.
Coupled with her time commitment to our youth just mentioned, leading passionate worship services and heading our staff, here’s one quick example of why Paula’s time is stretched more than other pastor’s. Remember where we live. Now think of where we often are when we are sick or had a surgery or are recovering from some other medical treatment – we are down on the Front Range. And, we are very much comforted and nurtured when our Pastor calls. But that is a five hour round trip and visitation – more than half a work day for her.
We want to make sure we care and nurture our pastor as much as she cares for and nurtures us and our entire community. To do this we need to add part-time staff to ease the increased time burden on Paula and church staff that our success has created.
And we want to continue to faithfully compensate all our staff. Fruitful stewardship should always begin with the key people who are the foundation of all we do and dream of doing. For instance, we need to pay Jill for the hours she actually works, which we are not currently doing. So we have added modest, but much deserved staff compensation increases to our proposed 2017 budget.
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