Posted in Grace, Ministry

A disturbing story for the comfortable

I am working on the gospel, Luke 16:19-31, for the sermon this week. It’s a tough passage that generates enough guilt on its own that you really don’t need to preach too much law. A rich man who enjoys life in this world ends up in a place of torment. A poor man, Lazarus, who lives a miserable life in this world ends up in a place of comfort. It’s a story that makes you realize how often you look right past the poor in pursuit of your own extravagant life-style. Extravagant at least in comparison to most of the world.

We were talking about this in Bible class last week, too, studying The Hole in our Gospel, by Rich Stearns of World Vision. We hear about the poor, empty food pantry shelves, and the needs all around us, but we really don’t see the poor. We know statistics, but we don’t really don’t know the people they speak of. For example, a public school teacher in the class shared that 56% of the children in our school district get free or reduced lunches. I didn’t know that, even though I know lots of money is being spent for that program. Those children are for most part invisible to the average eye, except to those who spend every weekday with them.

The bottom line in Jesus’ parable is to listen to “Moses and the prophets,” the Word of God. What the Word reveals is a God who steps into our world with mercy, justice and love. When we see what God is doing, we see who He came to save. The targets of His mercy suddenly have names, faces and lives. In this way He still opens eyes and invites us to join Him in this mission that supplies both physical and spiritual life in this world. Isn’t it amazing how His Word and Sacraments still open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and heal the legs of the paralyzed!