Sermon: The Rev. paul leclair
Sermon: The Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 Psalm 91:1-6,14-16 1 Timothy 6:6-19 Luke 16:19-31
Bless our voices, that they may be used for kindness,our ears for compassion, our hands for charity,our minds for truth, and our hearts for love. Amen
I’m guessing I’m not alone when I do a little dance, when I see signs that the pandemic is winding down.Many of us are pretty much “done with COVID.” “Enough of these masks and hand sanitizers,” we say. We want to book our favorite restaurants; get seats for the game, order tickets for a play or a movie.Our arms are pleading, “Please, no more shots!”That’s what we desire.
But then… There’s Lazarus.In our lives Lazarus might be an elderly parent, or the friend whose immune system is compromised by a chronic illness. Lazarus might be a co-worker who’s already been through a couple of nasty bouts with the virus. For their sakes … maybe we shouldn’t be so fast to ditch our masks and stray from responsible behavior.~~~There’s an election coming up this Fall. And so, we’re checking out the candidates’ positions and records. That’s a good thing. We want legislators, school board members, and public officials who will represent our better interests. Nothing wrong with that. Right? But then, there’s Lazarus: the hard-working, under-paid people, who are still living in poverty. There are those, who have no power in our social and political structures; People who don’t own a car, and even if they did, they couldn’t afford insurance nor gasoline.There are families who are dealing with other issues that they can’t possibly handle, all on their own: a catastrophic illness, unsafe drinking water, substandard educational opportunities for their children, the lack of affordable housing. Shouldn’t their interests matter in our voting decisions, as well as our own desires? Filling up our gas tanks and shopping for groceries have been painful experiences these past few months. Because of this … many of us have tightened our belts for the rocky road ahead. That’s the way it is … for us. But then, there’s Lazarus: people who can barely scratch by, even in the best of times. There are families who are just one auto repair or an unexpected prescription away, from economic disaster. Can we make room for them too, in our hearts and in our tight budgets?~~~Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the rich man may seem to belong to a time long ago and in a place far away.But the fact is, we find Lazarus at our own gates and intersections.Even when in plain sight, it can be easy for Lazarus to escape our notice.We may even consciously ignore or dismiss him or her, holding a cardboard sign, as we whizz by a street corner.
While we can rejoice for Lazarus in the Gospel parable,and we can be shocked by the rich man’s expectation that even in the after-life, that it was Lazarus’ job to attend to the rich man’s needs;we need to consider the ways in which our own self-centeredness and our self-interest numb our consciences, and keep us from realizing the plight of the people in need around us.
Today’s Gospel is challenging us to remove the blinders from our eyes and to open any closed doors of our hearts,We need to see God in our midst in the poor, in the presence of the forgotten, and at the core of folks who are isolated and the marginalized.~~~There are ways by which we can avoid overlooking Lazarus, even though she is in plain sight.There are means by which we can provide water for Lazarus when his thirst needs quenching.
One such aid is our baptismal covenant, which calls us to respect the dignity of every human being; to recognize all people as being created in the image of God.When we possess true humility, God enables us to embrace one another as brothers and sisters, and encourages us to recognize everyone as sons and daughters of God.
Another channel for action is St. Patrick’s Missions. The donations we make using those envelopes behind the last pew are used to benefit both our neighbors in need in our immediate neighborhood and open opportunities for our neighbors in far off lands.
A way to feed Lazarus is by the Madison Heights Food Pantry.When we shop for ourselves, we can add a few non-perishable items to our shopping cart and then place them in the gray storage bins at St. Patrick’s entrance.
This Thursday, September 29th, a Meet the Candidates event will be held right here at St. Patrick’s. Some of the candidates, such as school board members and judges,will be of local significance.Others’ sphere of influence will expand beyond the borders of Madison Heights.We can listen to the views of candidates for State Legislature and Congress, and learn about the proposal that will impact public transportation.As we listen that night, or as we surf the campaign websites, we can gather information that help us discernif the aim of a candidate or the purpose of a proposal is to offer advancement for today’s overlooked Lazarus, to preserve advantages for our world’s rich man.~~~Let us pray.Most Holy and ever-present God, we seek to be messengers of your mercy and compassion.When we see Lazarus on the corner or standing in our very midst, inspire us to find creative ways to respond to her need.When we recognize that we are ones who have been richly blessed, move our hearts to share what we have received. Amen.
Sources:The New Interpreters Study Bible, NRSV with Apocrypha, Abington Press, Nashville, 2003Lectionary Levity, Ian S. Markham and Samantha R. E. Gottlich, Church Publishing, New York, 2017Connections, September 2022, MediaWorks, Londonderry, N.H.