Pentecost 19, September 25, 2016

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Title:Pentecost 19, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016 (full size gallery)

An eventful week with the beginning of fall, a record Village Harvest, Sept 21 and a 4th annual concert with Lyra on Sept 23, 2016. Today was an early fall day with moderating temperatures and cool breeze. The clouds on the Rappahannock were gorgeous before the 9am service with a distinct light on the horizon. Gradually clouds rolled back in.

We had 8 at 9am, Morning Prayer Rite I and 35 at 11am, Holy Eucharist Rite II. We rarely schedule Morning Prayer Rite I (once a year) but we did this Sunday. Mike and Marcia Kole from St. George’s came on their 40th wedding anniversary.  Marcia is a Sunday school teacher of many years and taught Catherine and Ben’s children

Godly Play for preschool through 2nd was about the Holy Family and God’s Kids from 3rd grade up continued their study of the Old Testament through each child adopting an Old Testament name

Today’s readings warn of the dangers of spiritual complacency. Or another word – "You reap what you sow." As Jerusalem is conquered, Jeremiah buys a plot of land to show his faith that God will restore the land. Amos cautions that indulgence and apathy will lead to terror and loss. Paul urges Timothy to eagerly embrace eternal life and the riches of Christ Jesus, enduring until Jesus returns. In the Parable of the Richman , the rich man in today’s gospel story exchanges his comforts for torment, while Lazarus exchanges his tormented life for paradise.

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke, like the words of Timothy, is a warning against wealth, consumerism, and materialism. Enjoyment and abundance lived apart from care for the poor leads to spiritual destruction. The rich man’ sin is not only his consumption but his apathy. He may not even notice the beggar at the door and, if he does, Lazarus is an inconvenience, standing in the way of enjoying his property, and frankly a blight on the neighborhood. In the afterlife, the tables are turned and now the rich man suffers, while the beggar rejoices.

These scriptures present both challenge and hope. They root our hope in our relationship with God. Those who commit themselves to God’s cause can imagine futures and act on their imagination, even if the arc of imagination goes beyond their lifetimes. They can face illness, external threat, and death knowing that God’s providence encompasses them.

The sermon took up these ideas using the chasm that exists in our world between those of us who have safe housing the refugees, particuarly in Syria. who don’t . "A great chasm in our world right now exists  between those who have safe places to live, which is definitely a form of wealth, and those who live in the poverty of constant fear for their lives."

"In August, a picture came out in the news of a young boy in Aleppo, Syria. This little boy, maybe five years old, probably less, was pulled out of the bombed out rubble of his home, and the picture shows him sitting in a daze in an ambulance, covered in blood and dust, waiting for help. And just yesterday in The Washington Post, the top front page carried another picture of a little child, pulled from yet another building turned to rubble in Aleppo, and this child is dead. 

"After that first image I mentioned appeared in the paper, Laura Long posted the picture 
and the following thoughts on her Facebook page and I quote— “This image has shocked 
the world this week. It has been widely spread through social media postings followed by sympathetic captions. When I first viewed this image/video I sat and cried. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights over 18,000 civilians have been killed 4,500 children. If children are our future then I can’t help but wonder what these images and numbers are telling us. 

"I have to confess that it’s been a long time since I’ve cried over a picture, or let 
myself look too long at anything so tragic because I have my own concerns on my mind. 
But Laura’s words made me open my eyes. I  could see the chasm between my own safe 
world and the terrifying and war torn world in which this little five-year-old boy had 
to be pulled from the rubble of his own  bombed house. 

"Meanwhile, Laura says that “the past six months of her own life have been spent with 
 God shifting my heart towards the crisis  from sympathy to a call to action.” So she’s going with a group of people from her church in California to Athens, Greece, to help the over 50,000 refugees who have fled there in an effort to escape from the horrors taking place in Syria. You’ll find a letter about her trip in your bulletin. You can take it home, read it, and you can help her out by helping her fund this trip. You can go with her to Greece in spirit as she and the others in the group go to the refugee camps, distribute food and clothing, organize programs for young children, and assist in any way they are needed.  

"In Bible study this past week, our discussion lingered over the fact that the  
rich man ended up in Hades, tormented by thirst and flames while Lazarus rested in 
the bosom of Abraham—and the great chasm meant that no one could go to the rich man
to relieve him from his torment. This ending sounds so final, so lacking in mercy for the rich man. Jesus meant for this parable to bring us up short. Jesus wants us to see that even now, we are digging chasms so deep and wide that they cannot be crossed in this life or the next. But we know the end of the story, and in the end, there is hope that even this chasm that the rich man fixed in his lifetime, and that the deep and wide chasms we create may be crossed. And our hope is Jesus himself. Jesus, because of his compassionate love for us, through his crucifixion, death and resurrection, crossed over all of all of these fixed chasms to us, and built us a bridge to God."
 

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