Hey everyone! I am posting a sermon that I had prepared for last week worship. But I didn't use it because in the moment of worship I felt the passage suddenly speak to me differently than I originally planned. But I think that this is still worth hearing... or I guess now, reading.
Luke 16:19-31: Who are We Forgetting?
Last Sunday, after church, I totally forgot Ben. As I finished sending people home, I started to close up the church. I went back inside the church and started to lock up the doors, turn off the lights, do a walk around on the first floor and in the basement, and checked any phone messages on the answering machine, then I went home. I had no idea that Ben was supposed to be with me, and I left him outside while I was closing up the church. Thanks to God that Sandy Augustine and Gerri McGee were still outside chatting and found Ben!
Ben had that look on his face of total hurt, confusion, and brokenness. It broke my heart. That night I couldn’t get any sleep. I was just so upset at myself for forgetting my son! How could I have missed him! Just thinking that Ben felt scared and abandoned. Even if he is small and running around, I should have been more aware. I just imagined that night, what if Sandy Augustine and Gerri McGee were not out there? What would happen to Ben, how would he feel?
This parable that Jesus shares involved a wealthy man and a poor man named Lazarus. The story begins telling us about the relationship between the two. Lazarus was begging on the streets jut hoping to get scarps of food near the rich man’s house. And Lazarus had the opportunity to get help, not just from the wealthy man, but from all the people who came to see the wealthy man since there were a lot of banquets being held. However, Lazarus died in the worst way possible starving to death, lonely, and heartbroken.
But Lazarus is rewarded to go to heaven while the wealthy man who has also passed away went to hell. The wealthy man suffers and now he finally recognizes poor Lazarus, and still has the audacity to get Lazarus to serve him some water. However, the chasm is too large, and nobody can cross the borders between heaven and hell and the parable ends like this.
Now I think we can look at this passage and decide that justice has been served, or maybe we can even harshly assume that Jesus’ warning about obtaining wealth. But in this story, I don’t like to look at the result, I feel like there is an ethical issue that we sometimes pass over or we don’t pay attention long enough to have a lasting impression on us. That is about the people we may have forgotten or possibly overlook in our daily living and as we go through our daily routines.
In the story it was easy for the guest of the wealthy man to not see Lazarus begging. They had something else on their minds, they were excited about going to a banquet hosted by their friend. They probably just didn’t think about Lazarus at all. So, the question we must ask ourselves is whoa re we missing? Who do we ignore accidentally?
I think the parable that Jesus taught us is about awareness of our surroundings. It is so easy to get caught up in out busy schedule. It is easy to forget that there are people that are needy. You see it was easy for me to forget about Ben, but not to Sandy and Gerri, they noticed him! I was so caught up on what I need to do, I forgot about my precious son. Thankfully, at Ward Ave. Presbyterian church, you have done over and beyond in taking care of my family since the day I arrived at this church. And not only for my family, but for other families in Altoona and in Blair County. We participated in the Christmas Family program to help make sure needy family can have the best Christmas ever. And even today you have given so much to help the homeless in Blair County by donating items that they will need.
Continue to keep your eyes open and your hearts warm. Stay aware of your environments. Think about not just my family or the poor in our area. But also think about people who may be lonely, scared, and feel abandoned. Think about how we prioritize and use our time for these people. Think about not just how much individual people may need you, but also how much the church needs you. What makes this church amazing, is you all, coming together for worship, and all the fellowship events. But worship and fellowship are possible through your time, preparation, and care.
You all continue to do good work. Continue to be aware and open to the people and the church. May God continue to give you heart, wisdom, and strength. Amen.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).