Monday, 14 July 2008

The rich man has no name but Lazarus is called "God helps"

In chapel this morning Douwe Visser, our new colleague from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, preached a thought-provoking sermon on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16. 19-31. It was a real invitation to reflect on our own riches and whether they stop us from seeing other people:

"What Jesus wants to tell us is that the rich man has never even seen Lazarus on his doorstep. The rich man is not a bad person; he just doesn’t see what happens on his doorstep. This poor man on the doorstep by the way has a name. And this is special. It is so special because in all the parables Jesus tells no one ever gets a name. The lost son has no name. The sower has no name. No one else ever gets named in the parables except for Lazarus. He is the only one who doesn’t remain anonymous. Lazarus is his name, which means: God helps ...
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a story about not seeing what happens so very nearby. The first time that the rich man mentions Lazarus’ name is when he asks out of inferno: “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.”

Our opening prayer included this:
In the midst the hierarchies of our society,
We celebrate you for your creation of equals.
In the midst the abuse of power and money,
We celebrate you for your gift of justice.

Full text of the sermon here. Liturgy from this morning here.