25th September 2022
Morning Worship 25/09
“Lazarus and the Rich man”
In the Gospel reading today Jesus challenges his audience not to neglect the demands of justice in this life. Both readings today ask us to consider whether we “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk”. Can we begin to build the kingdom of God here and now? What makes this a reality?
Amazing and loving God,
as we meet together –
inspire us by your word,
renew us with your Spirit
and unite us as we worship you,
creator, redeemer and sustainer.
Reading – 1 Timothy 6.6-19
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
Reading – Luke 16.19-31
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, 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.” 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, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’
In our reading from Luke, we hear of the rich man being completely oblivious to Lazarus and his needs and, upon both their deaths, he finds out the consequences for his actions. He finds himself in Hell whilst Lazarus is raised up to Heaven. It is not wealth that corrupts but the love of wealth that turns the heart away from what is actually required; the love of others, especially the poor and disadvantaged, and sharing wealth to the benefit of others. The rich man was so focussed on his wealth that he was ignorant of the plight of Lazarus and the need to share.
There are several examples of people with wealth who have used this for good. Examples such as the American golfer Bubba’ Watson. He and his family have been involved with many charitable events and have donated $1.6 million to charity and support charities to improve the lives of children and young adults. All funded from his own pocket. This is just some of what he does.
Also, Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer, who has been involved in many campaigns, designed to help those on the poverty line, especially young children. Marcus has worked tirelessly for many charities, forming many partnerships with the purpose of helping the poor and needy and has donated over £20 million of his own money to charities across the country.
Another footballer who uses their wealth for the benefit of others is a Senegalese footballer called Sadio Mane. He used to play for Liverpool but has recently moved to Germany to play for Bayern Munich. He has used his money build schools and a stadium in Senegal; he supports charities in Senegal that provide clothes, shoes, and food for people in extreme poverty, including giving 70 euros per month to all people from a very poor Senegalese region in order to contribute to their family economy.
These are all examples of people who ‘walked the walk’ – responding to the challenge that Christ sets us – and have shared their wealth for the benefit of others. We are not all in the position to do anything like the stuff on the scale that ‘Bubba’ Watson, Marcus Rashford and Sadio Mane achieved, but we are still able to give generously of our time and money and rise to the challenge that Christ sets. To look at our lives and do our best to help others, give generously and ‘walk in the light of Christ.’
A prayer of confession
O guardian of our hearts,
so often we have focused on the wrong things
and turned away from those who need our help.
Whether through thoughtlessness, presumption or fear,
we have not embodied the abundant life you offer us.
Re-tune our hearts to your Spirit and your perfect love,
motivate us to find ways of helping,
even when we feel limited or without resources.
May we never turn away from doing something
because we cannot do everything.
Help us be light wherever we are,
not keeping it to ourselves
but working together to show your generosity.
Forgive us, restore us, and guide us, we pray.
Prayer of assurance of forgiveness
thank you that it is not too late.
Every day is a new chance to serve you,
to love others and to be the people you made us to be.
Thank you for forgiving us when we get it wrong.
Thank you for being ever willing to begin again.
May we dispense kind words and generous actions.
May we be known for an attitude of love,
that honours you and all you have made.
Prayer of intercession
Into your hands, Lord,
we place the victims of the ways of the world;
the poor and sick of war-torn nations, and those who struggle to make ends meet in our own.
We acknowledge that no fault attaches to these people;
they have not brought it on themselves.
We pray for greater awareness of those on the edges of our own community.
Who is at our gate, Lord?
Let us not be unseeing and uncaring in our self-satisfaction.
May we never isolate ourselves in self-indulgence, blind to the needs of others.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.
Lord, we know that your kingdom exists
wherever injustice is challenged,
wherever the oppressed are set free,
wherever the hungry are fed,
wherever the helpless helped
and foreigners welcomed.
Help us to work for this,
wherever we are this week.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And the love of God,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore.