Sermon Nov 3

A Sermon Preached by Dr. Stan Henderson
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Oroville, California

November 3, 2013
Laity Sunday

“Who’s at Your Door?”

Luke 16:19-31

You’ve been hearing us talk about a study called “New Beginnings” and a number of you participated in our six-week series of small group meetings. The emphasis was on developing a vision for who God has called us to be as a congregation and the way God wants us to serve him in ministry and mission to our community. At the conclusion of this sermon I’ve invited four people who participated in New Beginnings to share their reflections.

The parable Jesus presents us with is a study in contrasts. In one sweeping sentence Jesus characterizes the rich man: he “was dressed in purple and fine linen” and “feasted sumptuously every day.” Some clothing, like purple-dyed material, was so expensive it could only be afforded by the very wealthy. Today, we would say – he always wore Armani suits, Gucci shoes, and a Rolex watch.

How he lived was consistent with how he dressed. Every day was like a banquet for him. In a land where the common people were fortunate to taste meat maybe once a week, the rich man represented the epitome of self-indulgence, someone who cared for no one but himself. And if every day was feast, then he showed no reverence for the Sabbath or fast days, and therefore no respect for God.

Lying just outside the gate to what must have been a fabulous estate was Lazarus. It’s interesting to note that Lazarus is the only character in any of the parables Jesus told who is given a name. Doesn’t it seem strange that it would be Lazarus, the beggar? Everyone in the town would have known who the rich man was. But as Jesus tells the story he never even mentions his name. Instead, the one who is named is the beggar who lay at his gate.

Lazarus is a startling contrast to the rich man. Jesus said he was covered with sores and his desire was to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. When the poor man dies, Jesus said he was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. And the rich man died and was buried. All of the important and prominent citizens probably attended the rich man’s funeral. In contrast, Jesus makes no mention of a burial for Lazarus. As one of the destitute, his body was probably disposed of at the city dump.

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