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Crossing The Great Divide

There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently everyday
Luke 16:19-31

Sermon Topic Hope

Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 16:19


A New York Times newspaper column told the story of a New York City woman who was standing at a bank writing table, filling out a form. A man walked up to the table holding a stack of papers. He began writing checks and putting them into envelopes. He obviously was paying bills. When he had finished writing the checks, and stuffing and stamping and licking the envelopes, he turned to the woman, pointed to the envelopes and said, "When I die, I want to come back as my son."

In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus tells a parable about "a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently." He dies and wants to come back, but he can't. He's stuck! Jesus contrasts the life of the rich man with that of a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man had everything, the beggar had nothing. The rich man's body was adorned with fine, expensive clothes. The beggar's body was covered with sores. The rich man "feasted magnificantly." The beggar ate like a dog. When both men died there was a great gulf between them. Now the rich man suffers greatly and the beggar is fulfilled. The rich man is without hope. The beggar's hope for a better life has come true beyond his wildest imaginings. The beggar wants to stay put, and he can. The rich man wants to go back, but he can't. His situation is hopeless. Omar Khayyam (the poet who wrote the famous line, "A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou"), also wrote some lines about hope. "The worldly hope that men set their hearts upon," he said, "turns to ashes or it prospers." But, in either case, "like snow upon the desert's dusty face, lighting a little hour or two, is gone."

That is a striking image, especially for those who know the desert and have seen the beauty of a snow blanket on its dusty face which, "in an hour or two" will be gone. Omar Khayyam is saying that our hope is often like that. Many [...]

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