‘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.” ’
The Most Important Word
Here’s a marvelous theological party game, one I’m sure all of you will want to try at your next dinner party: What’s the most important word in the Bible?
Now I acknowledge that this particular game may not be your idea of a really fun time. But bear with me and imagine; pretend it’s a scintillating question, in your world, as it is in mind. The most important word in the Bible?
Our minds spin -- there could be so many answers. Who knows? The most important word in the Bible? Could it be God, or Jesus; maybe sin or forgive…. Could it be mercy or repent or love?
Luke 15: 1-13
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
‘Or what woman having ten silver coins,* if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
What enslaves you?
It may hang like a weight across your shoulders and makes you stagger. It may stand like an immense wall right in front of you, too high to scale, too solid to break through. It may course through you sometimes, like a shot of guilt or fear or worry, suddenly jolting you, sapping your resolve or hope.
What enslaves you this morning - makes you feel like a prisoner? Because today is all about freedom.
When all is said and done, what will little Lucian Slater remember from any of us?
Today we baptized Lucian, and we promised – every one here – to teach him about love, about the things that matter in life.
It’s not just his grandparents, or parents, his aunts or uncles or godparents. We all promised.
When all is said and done, what will any child remember you?