Sunday, 27 September 2015

The rich man and Lazarus

It was Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday at St James's today (St Anne's next Sunday; St James's School, tomorrow).

All three services are collecting items for the excellent Manna Day Centre (near London Bridge) and their work alongside the homeless people of London.

Today at St James we were looking at and acting out the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16. Here's the rich man (above) on his throne dressed in the finest clothing the Sunday school cupboard can offer, tucking into an early slap up lunch, with an actor for the part of Lazarus just being recruited.

Lazarus had nothing. He did well if he could get a few crumbs from the rich man's table, and the rich man never lifted a finger to help him.

But then the tables were dramatically turned (right) when both men died.

Lazarus ended up in heaven at Abraham's side, and the rich man ended up in Hades, the world of the dead.

The Rich Man asked for a warning to be sent to his five brothers still alive, but Abraham said they had Moses and the Prophets (ie the Bible) and they hadn't listened to them.

Then the rich man asks whether Lazarus could be sent to warn them.

They would take notice if someone rose from the dead, he reasons.

But Abraham replies 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.'

It's one of Jesus's most powerful parables. It is full of meanings. At Harvest Time it says a lot about compassion for the poor, for sharing, for actually doing something to help. It points us to eternal realities, too, and reminds us we have God's Word now, and we need to listen to it and respond to it before it is too late to do us any good.

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