Saturday, October 1, 2016

San Lazaro


I’m not sure what it was about this police shooting. Terrence Cutcher, Tulsa, Oklahoma.  That he was a choir member? Coming home from a music class? That photo of him and his wife? Or just that he was from Tulsa? A place I hold dear? I want to jail over Amadou Diallo. I have a close friend on Staten Island near where Eric Garner died. But this… I had a visit from old friends, former students from Tulsa.  We spoke of the race war of 1921. How the program our church did was the first they’d ever learned of it. I mean they used planes to bomb the black neighborhoods…

As of Keith Lamar Scott just killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, there have now been 194 African Americans shot dead by police this year. In Charlotte rioters have been  threatened with loss of  food stamps and welfare forever…


Lazarus..San Lazaro…I could spend the whole service with this…

there is the story itself…the parable…

For centuries, people believed it was a factual story…for two two reasons….it is the only parable in which Jesus uses  a name..and secondly, because it feels true…ultimately.the Bible is not about fact, but about truth….

There was the Order of Hospetallleirs of St. Lazarus established in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem…he was the patron saint of lepers…

He appears throughout all the varieties of Afro-Caribbean religion , which have managed to preserve West Africa Yoruban forms to an amazingly strong and visible manner…the saints are stand in covers for orishas, or spirits, like San Lazaro is babaluaye, … against leprosy, AIDS, and other viruses…..

This story has bene used in popular culture from the medieval Child ballads to Paul Simon to David Bowie..just before he died.

Let’s leave aside theological questions of the afterlife…what about this chasm? Is it punishment? How can there be no forgiveness? (This really brothers my Lutheran friends…) It is not so much punishment as it is what we have created for ourselves….if we have cut ourselves off from others, from humanity, then we are alone…and the chasm can not be crossed.

In a reflection from Jill Duffield, we read, there is a difference in aid and charity…
Don’t confuse aid with charity. Charity is old coats. Donating a coat doesn’t make you a good person but I bet it makes you feel like one. You didn’t even want that coat anymore, what you wanted was the closet space. Sure, you could have sold it at a garage sale and made, like, twenty bucks. It was an expensive coat, damn it. But you, with your heart of gold, gave it away. There’s a twinkle in God’s eye just for you.

What is needed is your vote, not your coat…
Vote? Yes. Like for a minimum wage of (at least ) $15 an hour…like supporting Sweat Shop FreeUpper West Side in their efforts to stop companies from avoiding fines and back wages  by delaying bankruptcy an reorganizing…(like a certain presidential contender…)

Likewise, a friend wrote me that her church in Tulsa had begun a six week series…on self-examination of white privilege…

So the question is , if this is about Lazarus at the gate, who is at the gate that we are ignoring?

Thank you Leila

Scriptures….and notes…
First Reading Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3awhere King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.
6Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came to me: 7Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, "Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours." 8Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, "Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself." Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
9And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; 12and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, 14Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. 15For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
This is about the Courage to invest in a time of occupation…sovereignty will one day return…it’s the LONG VIEW…
like Bishop Tutu in the midst of apartheid could say, we have already won or my communist friends who never give up on the 
Ultimate victory of the people. 

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
1You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust."
3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
4he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
6or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
14Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
16With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

To which after last week we could add, or bombs that explode in the dumpster

Second Reading 1 Timothy 6:6-19
6Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
11But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will bring about at the right time-he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Here we are contining the discussion begun last week…no one can serve two masters…

Gospel Luke 16:19-31
19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He 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.' 25But 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. 26Besides 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.' 27He said, 'Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-28for I have five brothers-that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' 29Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' 30He said, 'No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31He 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.’"

San Lazaro….
medieval church, a literal story…(questions about view pf afterlife) ONLY parable with a name….
parable vs pharisees (jews refuse to believe)
parable vs Sadducees(purple, fine linen, father’s house is Annas, high priest) threaten to kill lazarus when raised….new covenant
Eleazar…servant of Abrahamthe spokeswoman 
Where? Hades? (eastern orthodox and ads, waiting place) hell?

Note: In the Latin liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, the words of In paradisum are sometimes chanted as the deceased is taken from church to burial, including this supplication: "Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem." (May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, who was poor, may you have eternal rest.")

from Paul Simon Rhythm of the Saints

Always a stranger when strange isn't fashionable
And fashion is rich people waving at the door
Or it's a dealer in drugs or in passion
Lies of a nature we're heard before
Do my prayers remain unanswered
Like a beggar at your sleeve
Babalu-eye spins on his crutches
Says leave if you want
If you want to leave

from Jill Duffield:
What if we listened to Jeremiah this week and took the long view - the really long view -believing in God's promises to provide, to save, to see us through the darkest valley, to bring us home no matter how long the exile... would we more eagerly let go of our coat, our crumbs or care?

We have Moses and the prophets and the One who returned from the dead, too. Is that enough to give us the eyes to see Lazarus and the willingness to respond to him with not scraps but an invitation to the sumptuous feast?

What about the witness of Timothy? Can we heed his word to not be haughty, to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share? Or will we get caught up in the "I am" culture that causes us to wander away from the faith?

The texts for this week, particularly the New Testament offerings, could come across as finger wagging or, dare I say it, "preachy" in the worst sense of that word. I recognize, too, that I am assuming we are the rich man, not Lazarus. That is certainly not universally true in our congregations. What is at stake for all of us, rich man and Lazarus alike, is our true identity, our created good humanity and the abundant life that results when we recognize who we are, who others are and who God is.

This Sunday is an opportunity to listen to Moses and the prophets, to Luke, Timothy and, most importantly, the One who returned from the dead who said, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you - that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled ... the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations."

Is that enough for us? Are we convinced? "It" isn't about us. The one who returned from the dead did so for all the nations, for the rich man and for Lazarus, the Canaanite woman, her daughter, the wayward sons still far off and the ones who never left home. We aren't called to indulge in the sweet smell of self love, we are to follow the fragrance of the One whose feet were anointed by the sinful woman. I am certain he will lead us to the hungry and all will be fed, enriching both body and soul.

This week:
1 Jeremiah is able to take a very long view. When have you been able to act with a long, future view in mind? When has your congregation done so?
2 1 Timothy talks about being content. Are you content? What makes for contentment or not?
3 The verses from 1 Timothy contain several sayings that have become commonplace. "We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out of it." And, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." Where have you heard these expressions outside of church? How do they shape your view of money and possessions?
4 Neither the Luke text nor the passage from 1 Timothy condemn money, but they do contain pointed admonishments about wealth. How do we recognize when we are being good stewards or when we are justifying our wealth?
5 In Jeremiah the phrase "in the presence of" is repeated. Why is having witnesses to this purchase so important?

6 Try to notice those "at the gate" this week. Who do you see? Where are they? What are they longing for?  

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