|Theme:||The rich man and Lazarus. Proper 21 (26) Year C|
|Object:||A handful of dollar bills.|
|Scripture:||"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." Luke 16:19-21 (NIV)|
Look at all this money! (Show a handful of dollars.) How many of you would like to be rich when you grow up? What would you do with your money if you were rich? Well, you could dress in the latest style, drive a fancy car, live in a big house with a swimming pool, and fly around the country in your private jet. Does that sound good to you?
How many of you would like to be poor when you grow up? I don't see too many of you raising your hand on that one! If you were very, very poor, you might wind up living on the street and sleeping on the sidewalk. You would probably get your clothes from the thrift store and you might be seen standing on the street corner holding a sign that says, "Will work for food." You would probably walk everywhere you went because you couldn't afford to buy a car. I must say, that doesn't sound too appealing.
There is nothing wrong with being rich and there is nothing shameful in being poor. Being rich does not guarantee that you will be happy and being poor doesn't necessarily mean that you will have an unhappy life. In our Bible lesson today, we will look at a story that Jesus told which is known as "The Rich Man and Lazarus."
Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen. He lived in luxury every day. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus. As Lazarus lay there, he was hoping that he might receive some of the scraps from the rich man's table. Lazarus was covered with sores and the dogs would come and lick his sores. The rich man never offered to share his wealth with Lazarus. Every day he walked past him as if he was not even there.
In the story Jesus told, Lazarus finally died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. Even though he had nothing on this earth, he trusted in God to take care of him and that is exactly what happened. Lazarus had everything he needed in his heavenly home.
The rich man also died and was buried. The place where the rich man went was. . . well, it was very hot. I am sure you can guess where that was! He was miserable. The rich man looked up into Heaven and saw Abraham with Lazarus standing by his side. He cried out, "Father Abraham, send Lazarus down and let him dip his finger in water to cool my tongue." Abraham answered, "Don't forget that when you were living you had all your good things and Lazarus had nothing. Now he is well cared for and you are in great pain. And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over."
There is an important lesson to be learned from the story of the rich man and Lazarus. All the money in the world won't buy our way into heaven. The only way we can get into heaven is by putting our faith in God. When we do that, he will provide everything we need. Maybe we won't be rich on this earth, but we will be in heaven!
Our Father, we do not trust in the riches that this world has to offer, but in the provision of your hand. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
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