Sep 26

Lazarus, Dives, and Us

I love this parable from Jesus. It’s one of my favorites. A rich man, Dives, ignores his poor brother Lazarus for years, “feasting sumptuously” every day while Lazarus starves. And Dives, that rich man, gets what’s coming to him: swift, certain, non-negotiable judgment. Everyone love a good comeuppance story, and this parable has it in spades. When I was a choir director in North Carolina, I couldn’t wait for this parable to come up in our worship schedule, so the choir could sing,

Rich man, Dives, he lived so well,

And when he died, he went straight to hell!

I used to tell the choir to give that “hell” everything they had. It felt good to sing that in church, and it feels good to hear that, at least once, someone who had it coming got it. Continue reading

Sep 19

Parable Reading

The parable Jesus tells us this morning is one of the tougher passages we have in the New Testament. Some things Jesus says are hard because we don’t want to do them; we resist the meaning Jesus clearly intends. So when Jesus tells us to sell our possessions or seek first the kingdom of God, we throw up roadblocks because we’re struggling with saying yes to Jesus’s radical way of life. But I don’t think that’s what makes the parable of the shrewd manager, or the explanation Jesus gives after the parable, so hard. In this case, the story itself is hard to understand: what is it, exactly, that Jesus is getting at here? Continue reading

Oct 26

Blind Bart

Poor blind Bart! Sitting on the side of a road, a busy highway, the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. Waiting just outside the city. Waiting for generous travelers who might throw a couple coins or maybe some stale bread his way. Enduring the quiet—and surely sometimes not so quiet—verbal abuse all beggars must endure: What’s wrong with that man, mommy?! Why is he just sitting there? Hush, honey, some people just can’t help it. Hmph! He probably brought it on himself. Continue reading

Oct 12

The Rich Man

The scary thing about this morning’s gospel reading is that Jesus isn’t mad at the rich man. Jesus isn’t frustrated by him; he isn’t exasperated by the man. Jesus was not angry, and that’s what’s so scary about this passage. Because when Jesus tells the rich man to sell his possessions and give away his wealth to the poor, Jesus isn’t mad at the man or trying to drive him away. Jesus loves this man enough to tell him to get rid of all his stuff. Jesus loves the man too much to let his wealth get in the way of becoming a disciple. Continue reading