We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Early Fall

Early Fall(full size gallery)

Fall is a wonderful time to pause and look at nature all around you. You have to take the time and not think of the minutes. The time before church is my time to let nature envelop me.

The effect of fall is magnified after a rain. Add another plus for leaves beginning to fall around you in all their color. It’s the sound of the crunching of leaves beneath your fee. It’s a time to look at those small things along the ground- small flowers, water pellets on leaves. It’s time to lookup to see fall advancing in our trees.  So many things we never notice or take the time to see.

Water is life giving – and destructive. The effect of rain was seen this week along the gravestones, often with leaves falling around.  The wet leaves along the ground reflect up at you. Then over the river to see the water rushing along as I am trying to be still.

Fall is a time to get out Robert Frost for yet another fall.

By Robert Frost

“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall”

A Youth Group is organizing

Sept 25 was the first meeting of a revitalized youth group. The 8 youth have a common interest in music so we had 2 trumpets, 1 French Horn, 1 piano player and 4 singers. They are all working on Christmas Music. Each played a Christmas piece individually.

Catherine suggested playing for the Dec. 18 service which is traditionally the Christmas Play. Catherine would write a play around their music talents.

We ended the evening with an introduction to the Prayer Book and the saying of Compline with the adults present.

The Rich Man and Lazarus: Warning Tale and Interpretive Key to Luke

From Trinity Church, New York. Article by Ched Myers Link to article

“Indeed, a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office about income inequality over the last three decades shows that while total family wealth has more than doubled to $67 trillion in the U.S., “most average families haven’t seen a nickel of that gain”:

“In fact, the typical American family… actually lost wealth between 1989 and 2013, after adjusting for inflation. Families in the upper reaches of the American economy, by contrast, have done just swell. Families in the top 10 percent, the CBO calculates, have seen their net worth increase an average 153 %. Families in the top 1 percent have done the best of all. Their overall share of the nation’s wealth has jumped from 31 percent in 1989 to 37 % in 2013…. Some put the current top 1 percent share of the nation’s wealth as high as 42 %…

“Even the CBO admits that U.S. income inequality is vast, and growing. (To follow this thread I recommend you consult the stats, analysis and narratives posted regularly by our friends at www.inequality.org.) And it long ago outstripped the disparity of ancient Rome. So ironically (and tragically), the polarization between rich and poor—and all the social ills and conflicts associated with it—is the context for both the ancient gospel and contemporary North American readers of it.

Sunday links, Pentecost 16, Sept 25, 2022

Communion, Sept 25, 2022.

Sept. 25, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist
Season of Creation 4, Sept 1 – Oct. 4

  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Sept. 24 Zoom link Sept. 11 Meeting ID: 869 9926 3545 Passcode: 889278
  • Lectionary for Sept. 25, 2022, Pentecost 15
  • Bulletin, Sept. 25, 2022
  • Sermon, Sept. 25, 2022
  • Youth Group, Sun. Sept 25 5pm at St. Peter’s
  • This Week

  • Morning Meditation , Mon, Sept 26, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Climate Change— “Reduce – Our Carbon Foot Print”, Sept. 26, 7pm Zoom link Meeting ID: 878 1530 9573 Passcode: 276113
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Sept. 28 10am-12pm. Reading lectionary of Oct. 2
  • Sacred Ground group, Thurs., Sept 29, 7pm Zoom link Meeting ID: 869 0445 9075 Passcode: 715981
  • All articles for Sept. 25, 2022

  • More book, Part 3 – Reduce

    The first two chapters were required material to get to Part 3 – Reduce. Understanding the significance of our need to reduce greenhouse gases from Part 1, led to calculate our carbon footprint in Part 2. We meet to strive towards net zero emissions by 2050. Net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance. Part 2 focuses on reduction to get to net zero. How much do we need to reduce our carbon footprints? For Americans, that number is about 90 percent.The United Nations’ intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that if we don’t act now, we’ll be facing the severe effects of a warming planet as early as 2040.  One example? 50 million people around the world, will be affected by coastal flooding This chapter lists 26+ ways for us to act

    Sermon, Pentecost 16, Sept. 25, 2022

    Sermon, Proper 21, Year C 2022 Season of Creation

    In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the dramatic story of poor Lazarus, starving and covered with sores,  and the rich man who ignores Lazarus in this lifetime. 

    Both men die, and the tables get turned.  Lazarus ends up resting comfortably on the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man finds himself in Hades, where he is tormented in the flames. 

    Barriers play an important part in this story. 

    The first barrier is the rich man’s gate.  The rich man kept his gate shut.  Inside his house, he led a life of luxury, ignoring the needs of the world right outside his gate. 

    The second barrier is the great chasm fixed between heaven and hell. 

    This barrier keeps the rich man who is now in Hades from receiving any relief from his agony—Abraham tells him that “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.”  My mind conjures up a huge dark space, so deep that I can’t even see the bottom, and so wide that the other side is invisible because it’s so far away. 

    In Bible study, we talked about this chasm.  Is there a point at which God fixes a chasm that cannot be crossed?  Was the rich man doomed forever?  We know that God is a God of mercy and forgiveness.  But is there a cut off point to God’s tolerance of our shortcomings? 

    But this story does not say that God put this chasm in place.  The chasm has been fixed, but by whom? 

    In hearing this story again this year, I think this chasm has been fixed by the rich man.  The rich man’s closed gate became a chasm which no one passed through to help Lazarus and Lazarus could not pass through the shut gate on his own.  Too sick and hungry to do anything else, Lazarus lay outside the closed gate and died.   

    And now the gate, which has become a chasm, unsurprisingly remains in place in the next life, (you reap what you sow and suffer the consequences of your actions).   The  rich man no longer has control.  The gate has turned into a chasm that he can’t cross.  Now he experiences the side of the chasm he wishes he weren’t on, one of deprivation and torture. 

    Since this is the Season of Creation, we certainly could apply this story to our own relationships with the earth, and how we tend to shut ourselves off from the earth around us.  In our day to day lives, we go out of our houses, get into our cars, drive to where we are going, and go into another building. And then repeat to get back home, often never even setting foot on the earth itself.  Often, our eyes are closed to what is going on in the natural world.  Our hearts are shut to its agonies, many which we have caused. 

    We forget that the earth has a life of its own and that we belong to the earth. 

    The Church itself teaches us that we are part of this earth.  Our most profound Christian symbols are earthly—as we come into the Church we are baptized in water, we share bread made from ingredients that came from the earth and also from its creatures.  The bees make the honey that BJ mixes into our communion bread.  Our wine comes from grapes that grew on vines planted in the earth.

    At our burials we hear these words, “We are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return.  For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return.’   All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song:  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” 

    Jesus described himself with these earthly things—saying “I am living water,” “I am the bread of life,”  “I am the vine, you are the branches.”  Jesus belonged not only to God, but to the earth. And  Jesus himself reminds us that we are connected to the earth, and how essential that connection is in our relationships with God.   

    I don’t even need to go into detail about the myriad ways that we are in the process of creating a chasm between us and the rest of life on this earth, one that we will someday no longer be able to cross.  Like the rich man, who wouldn’t open his gate and then found out that he couldn’t cross the chasm of his own making, we are in the process of creating something that we can no longer undo.  Even if we someday decide that we want to open our gates to the earth, many of the things that we have destroyed are gone or will be gone forever.  One example we are all aware of is the decline of the monarch butterflies, now on the endangered list, along with many other creatures that are endangered or already extinct. 

    When my daughter Catherine and I went to Hawaii several years ago and visited a botanical garden, we saw a native plant of Hawaii that is being kept alive only by human beings, who must pollinate it by hand, for the moth that once pollinated this plant is now extinct.  And someday the plant will go the way of the moth, when human beings decide to stop pollinating it. 

    I find myself easily discouraged by what is happening to the earth around us, wanting to look away, as the rich man looked away from poor Lazarus, lying at his gate.  How much more pleasant it was for the rich man to step over this problem in his path, to go inside and shut the door, and never give the tragedy at his gate another thought.  How easy it is for us to shut ourselves away from the ongoing environmental tragedies around us.

    Today’s scripture reading from Ist Timothy provides some guidance for us on to how to keep our gates open, to avoid putting impassable chasms in place.  We will do well to keep these reminders in place, not only in our relationships with God and with one another, but with the earth itself. 

    The first thing to remember is to rely on God rather than on ourselves.  We are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness rather than to focus on the what the writer calls “the uncertainty of riches,”  for loving money more than God leads, in the end, to ongoing pain. 

    To live a life of faith is a challenge.  The writer describes taking up this challenge as fighting a good fight—“Fight the good fight of the faith.”  For if we fight the good fight of the faith, our relationships with God and with one another will grow stronger.

    And as we live faithfully on the earth, we find ourselves fighting good fights—taking the time to engage with the earth and to  be proactive in our care for it, and to admit the ways that we benefit at the expense of the earth and to try to correct the things that we do that are ultimately hurting the earth and the creatures around us.  

    The last paragraph of the reading of today’s lesson from 1st Timothy also has some great advice, not only for our relationships with God and with one another, but with the earth itself. 

    The author says that we who are rich are to do good, to engage in good works, to be generous and ready to share, so that we can take hold of “the life that really is life.” 

    For us Christians, the life that really is life is a life open to God, open to one another, and open to the earth.  Open gates, open hands, open hearts.

    At the end of the story that Jesus tells, the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to the house of the rich man’s father to tell his brothers what has happened to him, so that they can be saved from the torment that the rich man is experiencing. 

    But Abraham says that the brothers already have the message—all that they have been taught through Moses and the prophets. 

    What ever happened to the brothers?  Did they somehow figure out what they could do differently, based on the information they already had?  We will never know, because like so many of the stories that Jesus tells, we are left hanging.  The story is open ended. 

    We are like those brothers of the rich man. 

    What will happen to us? 

    Like the brothers, we need to be warned. 

    But we’ve already been warned! 

    Can we and will we do things differently, based on the warning signs already surrounding us? 

    Can we and will we do things differently, based on what God tells us to do in our relationships with one another? 

    Can we and will we do things differently based on how scripture tells us to care for the earth of which we are only a part?

    As followers of Jesus, how can we be living water, the bread of life, and the vine, sustaining and bringing forth new life around us? 

    And we must remember that  we are but dust, and think of what we can do to contribute to the lives of one another and of the earth which will go on long after we have died, but in what condition? 

    What will we leave behind for our children and our children’s children?  Open gates, open hands, open hearts, bringing new life and  bridging the fissures that we’ve already started  creating? 

    Or will we leave behind a chasm that has been fixed, so that even those who might want to pass over it cannot do so? 

    God has provided us with all the information we need to keep our gates, hands, and hearts open to one another and to the earth.   

    What we do with that good news is up to each one of us.

    St. Michael and the Angels, Sept. 29

    Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. It is the “mass of Michael.” As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming.

    Traditionally, in the British Isles, a well fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest, is eaten to protect against financial need in the family for the next year; and as the saying goes:

    “Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,
    Want not for money all the year”.

    Part of the reason goose is eaten is that it was said that when Queen Elizabeth I heard of the defeat of the Armada, she was dining on goose and resolved to eat it on Michaelmas Day.

    Another piece of folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, stamped, spat and urinated on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. As it is considered ill-advised to eat them after 29 September, a Michaelmas pie is made from the last of the season.

    On this day, we give thanks for the many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.

    In the Hebrew Scriptures, it is occasionally reported that someone saw a man who spoke to him with authority, and who he then realized was no mere man, but a messenger of God. Thus we have a belief in super-human rational created beings, either resembling men in appearance or taking human appearance when they are to communicate with us. They are referred to as “messengers of God,” or simply as “messengers.” The word for a messenger in Hebrew is malach, in Greek, angelos, from which we get our word “angel”

    By the time of Christ, Jewish popular belief included many specifics about angels, with names for many of them. There were thought to be four archangels, named Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel.

    Michael (the name means “Who is like God?”) is said to be the captain of the heavenly armies, the greatest of all the angels. He is the protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin – the edge into winter – the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defences during the later months of the year

    He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he is said to have led the heavenly armies against those of the great dragon). He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the Martyr George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)

    In Anglican and Episcopal tradition, there are three or four archangels in its calendar for 29 September feast for St. Michael and All Angels: namely Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and often, Uriel. Gabriel (the name means “God is my champion”) is thought of as the special bearer of messages from God to men. According to the first chapter of Luke, he announced the forthcoming births of John the Baptist and of our Lord to Zachariah and the Virgin Mary respectively.

    Gabriel (the name means “God is my champion”) is thought of as the special bearer of messages from God to men.  According to the first chapter of Luke, he announced the forthcoming births of John the Baptist and of our Lord to Zachariah and the Virgin Mary respectively.

    What is the value to us of remembering the Holy Angels? Well, since they appear to excel us in both knowledge and power, they remind us that, even among created things, we humans are not the top of the heap. Since it is the common belief that demons are angels who have chosen to disobey God and to be His enemies rather than His willing servants, they remind us that the higher we are the lower we can fall. 

    Lectionary, Sept 25, 2022 – Pentecost 16, Year C


    “The Rich Man and the Poor Lazarus” – Hendrick ter Brugghen 1625

    The lectionary readings are here or individually:  

    First Reading – Amos 6:1a,4-7
    Psalm – Psalm 146
    Epistle – 1 Timothy 6:6-19
    Gospel – Luke 16:19-31 

    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. 

    What is life worth living for? Wealth, worldly success, fame is temporary—it holds us to focusing on what we have right now.  Life apart from a relationship with God eventually leads to hopelessness, especially in the context of life’s limiting situations. Christ calls us into the life that endures for eternity involving love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness endure forever, it cannot be taken away from us.

    We need to look out for others . Does someone close to us suffer in silence? We cannot ignore those who hold cardboard signs at our major intersections: “Hungry family,” or “Will work for food.” But what about those who hold no signs and have no visible sores? Do lonely people languish within our offices? What family members feel homeless or neglected in our homes? If we look within, what parts of ourselves do we deny, repress or allow to stagnate? It is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

    All too often, Christians focus on eternal life, life after death—heaven. We forget that Jesus specifically spoke about how we need to live for others—the first shall become last of all and servant of all—but yet we don’t live this way. This parable reminds us that our faith in Jesus must be lived out in how we have compassion for others. Because eternity depends upon how we live now. Eternity is not the same as the afterlife. Eternity is what lasts forever—compassion, love, mercy, faithfulness.

    II. Summary

    First Reading –  Amos 6:1a,4-7

    For a long time, the territory we call the Holy Land was divided between a northern kingdom called Israel (Samaria) and a southern kingdom known as Judah (Zion). The city Jerusalem was in Judah. In the northern kingdom, at Bethel (Hebrew for “House of God”) there was a very ancient shrine. Its priesthood was older than that established by Moses’ brother Aaron.

    By 800 BC, the Assyrians were weakened through battle and indecisive leadership, allowing the northern kingdom, Israel, a respite from constant pressure from the north. Beginning about 745 BC under the leadership of Tiglathpileser III, the Assyrian empire roused itself and in its conquests later destroyed Israel in 721 BC.

    About the time that the new king was coming to power, the prophet Amos saw the signs of approaching disaster. This was not merely astute political analysis, but rather a religious insight into the instability of a society that had forgotten its covenant commitment to justice.

    The 9th and 8th centuries BC saw the beginning of a class of urban poor. Archaeological excavations of Samaria show great differences between rich and poor urban dwellings in comparison with the relative uniformity of the 10th century. Oblivious to the needs of the poor, Israel’s wealthy enjoyed their private luxuries.

    But Amos sees clearly that neither wealth nor territory will save an Israel corroded by injustice.  Amos has seen the corruption of the wealthy elite, the ruling class, and how they have pampered themselves and worshipped other gods and forgotten the poor—Amos condemns them, sharing that they will be the first taken away. The ruling class lived in lavish excess while the poor suffered, and did not pay attention to anything but their own success and wealth—ignoring the warning signs all around them that the land would fall to Assyria, that they would suffer just as they had caused their own people to suffer.

    The difficulty  is not the content of the message, but rather the context in which it must be delivered.  Amos describes it meticulously.  It is a context of prosperity and luxury.  Into the midst of this kind of living, a hard message of doom must be delivered.

    The passage begins with the word “Alas”, and we could properly substitute the words “Woe to you.”  The audience for this vision of woe is not only the people of the north (Mount Samaria) but the south as well (Zion). One senses a bit of a sibling rivalry here.  Who is the more prosperous?  Who is the more confident? 

    Amos wants them to attend to greater questions of what it is that God wants.  What follows is a laundry list of superficial comforts: lamb, veal, popular songs, music, good wine, ointments, luxurious furniture, and restful times.  Does this sound familiar to you?  The promise that the prophet makes is not a comfortable one.  Those who enjoy these things, he says, will be the first to go into exile. 

    Psalm –  Psalm 146

    Psalms 146–150 all begin with the shout “Hallelujah!” (meaning “Praise the lord!”). They, along with Psalm 145, were part of daily morning prayers in the synagogue.

    Psalm 146 sings of God’s deliverance and praise for God’s faithfulness. It has the form of an individual thanksgiving but invites participation by the congregation. The promises of freedom and sight echo the signs of the expected Messiah. The psalm calls for an unwavering trust in the lord’s goodness, power and sovereign reign in the midst of outwardly dark and painful conditions.

    The listeners are reminded that if they are faithful, their hope is always in God who is the creator. God is the one who will reign forever and brings justice.  Of special interest are the activities of God that are praised here which become the signs of the messianic community especially in Isaiah: justice to the oppressed, food to the hunger, sight to the blind, makes the bent stand erect, loving the righteous, sustaining widows and orphans, and care for strangers or outsiders. 

    Perhaps this psalm was chosen by the framers of the lectionary to serve as an antidote to the mindless behaviors of the leaders of Israel in the reading from Amos.  The psalmist is clear about the present and the future of things.  He praises God “while I live” and “while I breathe.”  However, the vision of the departing breath, and the return to “the dust” limits life.  Therefore trust in God, not princes, the psalmist repeats.  And while you are here enact acts of love toward the helpless as God does.

    Epistle-  1 Timothy 6:6-19

    Timothy, whose name means “honored by” or “honoring God” was a companion of St. Paul.  He accompanied Paul throughout Asia Minor and in Eastern Europe, mainly Greece.  He was the son of a Greek man and his mother Eunice was a Jew, who was described as “a believer).  Paul first comes into contact with Timothy in Lystra where Timothy was a disciple.  He then follows Paul for the next few years, serving as an assistant and organizing congregations on Paul’s behalf.  Tradition has it that Paul appointed Timothy as bishop of Ephesus around 65 CE.  He died in 90 CE.  He is honored in the calendar on 26 January, along with Titus and Silas as Companions of Saint Paul.

    The author’s purpose  is to oppose certain teacher’s who were proclaiming a “knowledge” that was at odds with the Wisdom that is Christ.  Secondly, the author’s purpose was to urge Timothy (actually all Christian leaders) to a right practice and administration of their calling as disciples and leaders in the Church

    1 Timothy 6:6-19 reminds us that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Materialism stands  between us and God.  “But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.”  The encouragement to “fight the good fight” (v. 12) is a metaphor not from warfare but from athletics. The “good confession” (v. 12) probably refers to the confession of faith made at baptism (from which the baptismal creed developed).

    Paul uses the word manifestation or appearing both for Jesus’ incarnation and for his second coming. This term was used in the cult of emperor-worship; Paul seems to have deliberately appropriated it to contrast Christ to the emperor. The terms that describe God (vv. 15-16) emphasize God’s sovereignty and complete holiness.

    The closing paragraph addresses different issues.  The author returns to his exhortations about how to think about wealth. First it is God who provides for our prosperity.   Our materialistic acquisitions will fade and in the process, cut us off from our ultimate happiness, our relationship with God.    True wealth is measured in what we do for others – in our generosity.  All of this provides for a “good foundation” for what is to come – true life.  The final sentence provides a last gibe at the “false teachers”, “avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge.” 

    When we look back at Amos, we see how the rich lived, and how the lust for wealth caused the poor to be trampled on—Timothy gives a similar warning about the corruptive powers that wealth can have on the faithful. We need to shed the desire to be rich and instead remember the fullness of the promise of God: eternal life, a life that begins now and lasts forever. Riches are fleeting and will fail us, but God’s love will endure forever.

    Gospel –  Luke 16:19-31 

    During the last few Sundays we have been in the midst of a dispute about values, money, and wealth.  The dispute has been with the Scribes and Pharisees, and a bit of teaching for the disciples as well.  In the verses that precede this parable, Jesus talks about some things of value that exist for eternity: the Law and the prophets, and marriage.  Now begins a parable that contrasts things that are very much the interest of Luke. 

    Luke 16:19-31 is the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus and is a double-edged parable. There are two main characters – a rich man, who remains unnamed, and a poor man, Lazarus.  Both are lavishly described.  The wealthy man is “dressed in purple” and the poor man is “covered in sores”.  The rich man ignores Lazarus, and Lazarus remains at the rich man’s gate.  Now Jesus, much to Luke’s delight, turns the tables and it is death that does the deed.  Now it is the poor man who is luxuriating in heaven’s rest, and the rich man that is covered with the torments of Hades

    At this time the idea of Sheol (Greek, Hades), the place of all the departed who led there a shadowy quasi existence, had developed into two places, one of torment (usually called Gehenna) and one of bliss, Paradise. The chasm reveals the irreversibility of the situation.  This first part is, then, a parable of reversal, indicating the changes to take place in the kingdom as declared by Mary in 1:52-53. Lazarus, whose name means “God helps,” illustrates God’s special concern for the poor.

    During this conversation a third character is introduced, Abraham.  His entrance is an interesting one in that he, the epitome of hospitality, is in conversation with the rich man who was the antithesis of hospitality.  Abraham’s presence is also of interest in that life after death was thought of in terms of a banquet hosted by Abraham and Sarah (cf. Genesis 18). 

    The second part of the parable (“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”)  adds a second point: Moses (the law) and the prophets give a sufficient call to repentance. The indifference of the rich man to the poor man’s fate is reflected in the indifference that his brothers will affect when the poor man supposedly goes to preach to them.   This part of the story is a parable of warning; its theme is “too late!” Those whose hearts are closed to compassion will have minds closed to revelation.

    Yet the parable holds out hope. The brutal violence is not the final word; those who suffer such shattering losses in this life will be vindicated in the next. There is justice in the divine design. Perhaps it is harder to enter the first part of the parable because it strikes closer to home. While the gospel does not record that Lazarus asked Dives for help, Dives must have passed him daily. The man covered with sores lay at his gate. Sometimes we become blind to the scenes we see most often.

    The final sentence may reflect the disbelief of those who were reached with the Gospel of the Resurrection, but refused to believe it.  In this way we are painted a detailed picture of life at the time of Jesus, its values, and its social mores.  Jesus and Luke call both rich and poor alike to rethink what it is that they value.