September 29, 2019: Who’s at Your Gate?

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

“At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus.”

I once heard the story of a successful lawyer who passed a beggar daily. The lawyer always found time to give the beggar something. When questioned about it, his response was that the beggar was a constant reminder to him that his situation could change and their positions be switched. Today’s lesson is of a rich man who chose to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the cry of the needy person at his gate.

The story of the rich man and Lazarus challenges us to live into God’s expectation of koinonia, Christian community. In this community, everyone is given an invitation to the table, for it is there that we experience fellowship with Christ and with each other. To be overlooked because of your social, racial, religious, political, or ethnic status or for any other reason, is not in keeping with Christian teaching. Lazarus was the rich man’s daily reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that everyone has worth, regardless.

Lazarus is a very important part of the Christian community, offering opportunities for ministry away from the table, away from the everyday comforts. The rich man could have brought him an occasional plate or sent one—if only Lazarus weighed heavily enough on his conscience as he feasted.

Who sits longingly at your gate? How do you respond? It may be visiting someone in prison or the hospital, rolling down the window to give change to the panhandler on the corner, packing the gently used clothing to donate rather than trash it, taking a turn to volunteer at the local food pantry or the church’s outreach ministry. If we remain oblivious to the Lazarus at our gates, those who need help the most, will continue to get it the least.

 

Bevon White, pastor, Faith Moravian Church
Washington, DC