Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Cup of Cold Water

Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" Luke 16:19-31

We see what we want to see and our affluence and wealth can keep us from seeing even more. We roll up the windows in our car and zoom through the worst parts of town in order to avoid seeing the need around us. We can wall ourselves off for security and self-protection when we really are avoiding the pain and need of others.

To all our avoidance techniques, Jesus tells us this parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man is nameless, but Lazarus, with the oozing sores and the empty belly is known by name and borne on the wings of angels. Jesus makes us pay attention to our lack of attention to the need around us. How we love and do justice in life is measured and known by God. In our abundance, and our fear, we are challenged by God today to offer the cup of cold water now, and to invite the hungry to our groaning tables.

Today I ask God to help me set fear and anxiety aside so that I might see clearly. May we not overlook the needs around us and instead offer what we have for the love of our Creator. May we all be moved by God's compassion and love today to walk into our world and respond to those in need around us.

The Collect

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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