This Sunday in the Narrative Lectionary, we hear a story that Jesus told a group of Pharisees, “who were lovers of money” (Luke 16:14). Known as the story of “The Rich Man and Lazarus,” it describes a situation of greatest luxury and direst suffering on earth, a great reversal upon death, and then a conversation between the rich man and Abraham, the father of faith, in this story’s version of the afterlife.
So, how can this story be used in the faith formation of the whole people of God in our congregations? As we use the term here at Spirit & Truth Publishing, faith formation is any action, relationship, or experience that molds faithful followers of Jesus. While faith formation encompasses an educational component, it is so much more, including preaching, worship, fellowship, service, and any other faith practice, formal or informal.
But, returning to our text for this week, Jesus’ story is told to “the Pharisees, who were lovers of money.” That’s in the literary context, and it helps us see one purpose for Jesus telling it. It’s a cautionary tale. Loving money and chasing luxury here on earth, all while neglecting our suffering neighbors, does not make God happy (who is not explicitly in the story). And, God’s way, the way of the reign of God, is different. It is the poor, oppressed, neglected, and ignored that are honored in God’s kingdom. The greedy and the powerful, those complicit in the suffering of others, experience God’s judgment. How can this communicate to the innocence of youth and the wisdom of age, and all other contexts for the people in our congregations?
It’s a challenge.
- Who is sad, hungry, or otherwise suffering around us that we don’t even see?
- How can we change the way we see the world, to see what is going on, not from our personal perspectives, but from the perspective of God’s kingdom?
- What blessings has God given us that we can share to ease this suffering? The rich man had food that Lazarus needed. Do we have time? A smile, hug, or handshake? Money? A voice to speak out against injustice? Food? A list of resources? You don’t have to be rich, powerful, or even an adult to help someone!
- How can we work together to spread God’s kingdom in our community?
This week begins this blog, and through it we will be sharing pieces of our Living the Word (Narrative Lectionary) faith formation resources that are FREE for you to use in your ministry context. Today’s free resource is a reader’s theater style skit from our Living the Word: Cross+Generational Worship product, which provides a weekly interactive liturgy aimed at all ages designed to make our worship services accessible and engaging for everyone in the congregation, from every generation. Our Cross+Gen Worship product can be purchased for the whole year, a season, a special focus (e.g. Lent), or even as individual worship guides! Use today’s free resource in worship or in any other context to help make this story come alive to your congregation!
I pray that this resource will be a blessing this week for you. Please share below how you used this, or any other comments!
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)