I thought I would get a little jump on the email this week. I usually send this out on Tuesday but I will be out of the office Monday through Wednesday.
One announcement: Grey Eagle UMC's Annual Hog Roast will be this Saturday, September 24 starting at 4:30 PM. Grey Eagle people, we may still need workers and donations. If you would like to help out (and I hope you do) contact Janet Roe at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lois Sorenson at email@example.com.
This Sunday will be our final installment of the Sermon Series "A Future with Hope". Here is a summary:
Our "Future with Hope" is a seed (the analogy the sermon series is using) that is planted in us by the Holy Spirit through attending to the words of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). The seed germinates, opens, through prayer (Luke 11:1-13) and is planted through giving (Luke 12:13-21) which seems counter intuitive. Once planted, the seed (seeds) need to be nurtured through trusting that God will provide but also by participating in God's work for God's Kingdom (Luke 12:22-34). Then there comes a time of waiting, residing where we are (Jeremiah 291, 4-7) during some difficult times (Luke 12:49-56). These difficult times do not mean we hunker down and ignore what's happening but that we reach out to the hurting world with Christ's love. It is also a time when we build the community of believers using the gifts that God has given to each of us (Ephesians 4), sometimes even if it means we ignore the "rules" to reach out and break the bonds that cripple us and others (Luke 13:10-17). As the seeds of hope push roots down and shoots upward it will begin to bear fruit; fruits of love that should be shared with others . How this happens is all about how we treat others, whether in worship, at fellowship, or in mission (Luke 14:1, 7-14). Once the fruit is producing, it must be sustained (Isaiah 50:4a). But sustaining the fruit comes with a cost, the cost of discipleship and following Jesus (Luke 14:25-33). Finally, as the future with hope begins to unfold in front of us we remember where we have been and come from. We remember that at times we were lost but the shepherd and the lady look for us and the heaven's rejoiced when we were found (Luke 15:1-10). While we remember what we have been we must let go of that past, we must cast our burden on the Lord, and we release what is keeping us from that future (Psalm 55:22. Sometimes that means we go against the world's way of doing business and we get in the business of forgiving all no matter the cost, and welcoming all into God's economy (Luke 16:1-13). Which allows us to trust that the Lord is gracious and we place our hope in his steadfast love as we move into God's Future with Hope (Psalm 33:18). We begin living that future today when we open our eye and our hearts to the needs of those around us (Luke 16:19-31).
Our first lesson this Sunday will be Psalm 33:1-3, 18-22. The psalmist sings of God's goodness, mercy, righteousness, and steadfast love. For those who put their whole trust in God ("fear the Lord") God will see them through the darkness and death to a future with hope.
Our Gospel lesson is a parable about ignoring the plight of those around us who are in need. We will be reading Luke 16:19-31. My Bible titles this section "The Rich Man and Lazarus". You know the story. A rich man, unnamed, lives in the lap of luxury: Manhattan Penthouse, Armani suits, a chef to make the finest foods, and a Lamborghini auto. A poor man named Lazarus (not Jesus' friend in the Gospel of John) camps every day at the entrance of the high-rise condominium begging for morsels of food. Lazarus dies as does the rich man. Rich man ends up being tormented in something we would call hell but Luke call Hades (and much of this scene is similar to the Greek mythologies of Hades). Lazarus ends up reclining and dining in the "Bosom of Abraham" (Old Spiritual "Rock-a My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham"). The rich man wants relief. Abraham says no. Rich man wants Lazarus to warn his brothers. Abraham says "What's the point? They won't believe even someone who comes back from the dead."
First, this is a parable as Jesus gives a retort to the Pharisees who were ridiculing him (verse 14) not an actual description of heaven and hell. Secondly, the message is simple and draws on Jesus' statement at verse 13, but I will let you draw your own conclusion. Third, is the Abraham's statement in verse 31 about Jesus' resurrection?
May the Lord bless you this week with opportunities to share the Good News in word and deed.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor