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Our texts this week come from Amos 6 and Luke 16.
Our straight-shooting prophet warns that those of us that are comfortable, that are at ease will be the first in exile for our lack of grieving over and indifference towards those in need.
And Jesus shares a parable about a rich man and a poor man, named Lazarus; both men die. Lazarus is taken up into heaven with Abraham and the rich man is taken down into Hades. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his siblings so they don’t suffer the same fate. Abraham says ‘if they don’t heed the prophets, they won’t heed the word of a man returned from the died’.
The notion of the prophet’s call is what Amos shares in his text. It is the notion that we are called to love, to serve, to tend to those in need. This is an understanding of the prophet’s call that is shared by all people of the Book, that means Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
My great-grandmother was a bold woman of the 1920s. She fought for woman’s rights to vote, she worked in factories, she was a bread-winner for her family both before and after she was wed. I look at her struggles and I think ‘you know, us women have come a long way in a short amount of time’.
And then, I go to a lunch for clergy and their spouses; with the exception of a couple of people, no one spoke to me. Afterwards, I was speaking with a male colleague and friend. A woman came up, all excitedly, and asked ‘where are you serving?’. My friend introduced himself and his congregation. She continued to speak with him completely ignoring me, as though I was invisible or not there. I extended my hand out, I grabbed her hand, and I introduced myself as Pastor Melinda at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. She kept talking to him and then she sped away.
I am not use to feeling invisible. I am not use to feeling ignored.
Where in our own lives are we blind to people? Where in our own lives do we willingly and openly ignore someone else, ignore one that is the “least of these”?
In Biblical times, it was widows and orphans and throughout society that has changed; and in our owns lives, ours may be different than the mainline society.
Who do you ignore? Who are you blind to? Who are you indifferent to?
There are often times that I see a movie or listen to a song and there is a line that I think ‘that will be in a sermon one day’. This was such a week, the line comes from the Boondock Saints. It is a line from a sermon that a priest is preaching, he says
“we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil we must fear most and that is the indifference of good men.”
Let me read that again: “we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil we must fear most and that is the indifference of good men”.
Jesus is warning us to heed the prophet’s call. The prophet’s call is to not be indifferent, but rather to respond and to actively love, tend for, and care for the “least of these” in our community.
Who is the “least of these” for you? Is it based off of:
racial or ethnic identity?
gender? gender identity?
Jewish? Christian? Muslim?
Spiritual but Not Religious?
Who is the “least of these” in your life? Who are you blind to? Who do your ignore?
My prayer is that our eyes be opened to those people, that our hearts be opened towards and that we are moved to respond to the prophet’s call to love, to serve, to care, and to tend for the “least of these” in our lives. Amen.
The Scripture was Amos 6: 1a, 4-7 and Luke 16: 19-31.
The Sermon was originally preached on 25 September 2016.