Summary: We live in a very wealthy land...God has blessed us but are we mis-using our wealth? Do we notice the poor, the child captured by child trafficing, homeless prenant teenager.... can we help? or do we not notice. Our culture has taught us to "want more"
In Jesus Holy Name September 26, 2010
Text: Luke 16:19-31 Pentecost XVIII - Redeemer
“The Punishment of the Man Who Never Noticed”
A number of years ago Shania Twain, Country Female Artist of the Year had a popular song titled: “Ka-ching”. It begins with the sound of a cash register going…. Ka ching, Ka ching.
“We live in a greedy little world that teaches
every little boy and girl to earn as much as they can
Then turn around and spend it foolishly
We created a credit card mess
So we shop every Sunday at the Mall
All we ever want is more
More than we had before
Can you hear it ring
It makes you want to sing… Ka Ching.
The world philosophy is a four letter word. More. The church’s theology is also a four letter word but is means the opposite of more…. It is love.
Laurence Shames has said “America’s unofficial motto is “more”. We want more of everything. More fun. More money. More excitement. More love. More programs. More church members. More. More. More.
Some years ago before the death of Mother Theresa, a television special depicted the grim human conditions that were part of her daily life. It showed all the horror of the slums of Calcutta and her love for these destitute, throw away people. The producer interviewed her as she made her rounds in that dreadful place. Through out the program commercials interrupted the flow of the discussion. Here is the sequence of the topics and then commercials. Lepers. (bikinis for sale) Mass starvation. (designer jeans for sale) Agonizing poverty (fur coats for sale) Abandoned babies. (ice cream sundaes) The dying. (diamond watches.)
The irony was so apparent. Two different worlds were on display. The world of the poor and the world of the affluent. What about us? And so we come to this parable in our text today.
Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in absolute luxury. At the rich man’s gate lay a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered with sores. He longed to eat even the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. He lay there day after day in misery. Dogs came and licked his sores.
Every day the rich man left his house, down the path to the gate, to make his trip to the city… or his fields…his business. When he passed through the gate do you think he ever paid attention to Lazarus? Lazarus was a no body in this man’s world.
The parable is known as “the Rich Man and Lazarus”. William Barclay in his commentary on this text correctly identifies the true message of the parable: “The Punishment for the Man Who Never Noticed.”
It is interesting that in Jesus’ parable we know the name of the poor man, Lazarus. We don’t know the rich man’s name.
Take a journey in your mind with me this morning. The first place we visit is
Guatemala City, Guatemala. It’s one of the ministry stops for “The Sending Place”. As you know some of our members have been on mission trips with “The Sending Place” to Kenya, the Ukraine, and next year Hong Kong. Those who travel to Guatemala City find huge contrasts between the rich and desperately poor. We hail a cab, but when we tell him our destination is one of the city’s great garbage dumps, he refuses. Another cab makes the trip possible but only after the fee is doubled.
The land fill is a foul place, a place whose odor is oppressive. Once there you see a small army of young children who swarm over the most recent mounds deposited by trucks. “What are they looking for? You wonder, “shouldn’t they be in school? Yes, but quite frankly, they can make a dollar or two picking through the trash and collecting glass and paper and other items for recycling. The trash also provides their meals. The dump permeates their clothes, clings to their hair, infiltrates their skin. No school wants them.
Does anyone really notice?
Our next stop is Bihar, India. There we meet Hardik. His name means “full of love.” but he has known precious little love since his father gave him a few coins and pointed him to the city to work in a carpet factory. He is one of the “untouchables.” He works 12 hour days for wages which hardly sustain his existence. He is one of the estimated 20 to 50 million children in this country who are working for the bare necessities of life. (www.Pangaea.org/street_children/asia.carpet)
Our last stop could be a Brazilian city, or city in Thailand… but you will find the same in Portland, Oregon. Going to your hotel you are approached by and young girl… maybe 12 or 13. She works the streets… In Portland …she is a “throw away child” from a broken home…picked up at a mall, or found on a social network site and promised money, and things. She approaches and asks if there is anything she can do for you. Embarrassed you quickly reply, “No, no. Nothing but I will pray for you.“ She smiles, shrugs and goes back to take her place outside the hotel’s front doors. In the city of Belem, Brazil she supplies the necessary food and shelter for a family faced with poverty and no work. (childtrafficking.com/ docs.guardian _angel_ child _prost.)