Sunday 26 September at St Mary Mentmore
Reading 1 Timothy 6.6-19
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time – God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no-one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might for ever. Amen.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Gospel Luke 16.19-31
Jesus told the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Money = root of all evil. Misquoted. Love of money... Ever wondered why it is condemned?
· Waste of effort? We bring nothing in... take nothing out.
· If we have money we just want more...and neglect those who deserve our help. That’s the story of Lazarus.
· Faith in God incompatible with material abundance? – No, love of money is condemned. But – leads to false self-reliance, causes us to pursue selfish goals and neglect others, and gives us a desire for more, like addiction.
More than anything, it’s a distraction. Diverts our attention from what really matters – higher things.
Message of gospels – where your treasure is...your heart will be also. If bank vaults, high-yield securities, tax avoidance – that’s where you will place your value. Like parable of rich man who tears barns down and builds bigger – that night his soul was required from him.
Those who invest in things of this world will never have enough. Those whose time is spent with God will have abundance and share in inheritance of saints in light.
Story of Lazarus not about after life. Not about neglect of others or riches leading to hell. Could have helped, but too busy conserving and making more money. Distraction.
Maybe in another talk – obscene wealth and abject poverty – both evils in themselves. Even in this life, Jesus talks in Beatitudes of reversal of fortunes – happy are poor, meek, hungry, mourners.
So what’s the message? Give more away? Rely less on material wealth and possessions? Go and help in a homeless drop-in? Engage with dispossessed? Recognise Big Issue sellers as a person, or even in them the face of Christ? Turn attention away from latest gadgets to higher more permanent things? All these, and more.
Baptism of Ethan. Our promises not to give him best start in life. Good education. Best of health. He will have all of these.
No, our promises are to bring him up in the faith. Knowledge of God, so he can make informed choice when 16. In other words, we equip him for higher things – all others are distractions from what will be really important in his life. These are what we pray for this morning.