29 September 2013

The Lectionary continues to challenge us about money, wealth and poverty. It’s not a particularly new theme to explore, but it is a significant focus of the Gospel, and an integral part of our mission as Church.

May we be challenged to continue to seek creative ways to bring good news to the poor as we worship this week.

READINGS:
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15: In spite of his prophecies of the destruction of Judah, Jeremiah buys his cousin’s field and proclaims God’s word that people will again buy property in the land of Judah.
OR Amos 6:1a, 4-7: Amos proclaims that those who live in comfort and wealth, without grief over the destruction of God’s people, will be the first to go into exile.

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16: God promises refuge, protection and long life to those who trust in God.
OR Psalm 146: A call to trust in God rather than influential people, for God protects and saves those who are marginalised, excluded, poor and suffering.

1 Timothy 6:6-19: Followers of Christ are encouraged to be content with what they have, not to strive after wealth, and to share generously with others.

Luke 16:19-31: Jesus tells a parable about a wealthy man who failed to share with the poor beggar outside of his gates, and who finds himself in torment after death, while Lazarus, the beggar, finds himself in comfort.

REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
In a continuation of last week’s themes, the subject of money is revisited, but this time, it is connected with the ideas of compassion and generosity. In a generous act of optimism, Jeremiah buys his cousin’s land, even though he knows that Judah will be conquered. In contrast, Amos denounces those who, in their comfort, ignore the suffering and destruction of God’s people. Both Psalms stress the importance of trusting God rather than people or things, and Timothy warns against seeking to accumulate wealth for its own sake. Finally, in a dramatic parable, Jesus contrasts the consequence of wealth that is not shared with the plight, and salvation of the poor. There is no question, in the light of this, that God is “on the side” of the poor, that God calls us to put our trust in God, and that wealth is to be shared and distributed equitably. For those of us who are among the wealthy (which pretty much includes anyone who has internet access to read this) God’s word is direct and challenging – the poor need our faith, our generosity and our voice which challenges the wealthy to share. But, they also need our optimism, and the prophetic voice that trusts in God’s purposes over human wisdom or systems.

CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: It is not hard to know how to respond to this week’s theme. The wealth of the world is desperately unevenly distributed and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. Millions of people live on less than $2 a day – some on less than 1$ – and struggle just to put food on the table or a roof over their children’s heads. And this dire poverty is solveable. All it requires is the will to put pressure on leaders, law-makers, and corporate heads, and the optimism and faith to embrace and live the economics of God’s reign. Our world-economic systems need to change, and this change can be created through pockets of people who live differently and who support those who live differently – programs of social entrepreneurship, micro-lending, bartering and ethical consumerism all make big differences when small contributions are combined.

LOCAL APPLICATION: Systems of inequity and injustice are sustained because individuals don’t know how to contribute to change. When it comes to addressing poverty, the quest is to offer those who suffer dignity, hope and networks that can enable them to move out of their poverty and into sustainable livelihoods. For followers of Christ that may mean befriending someone who is poor, or partnering as a community with a less advantaged community. It may mean offering time and abilities to work in shelters, or projects that make a difference. It may mean being more careful about how we use our money, and investing in projects that uplift and support the poor. It may mean simply learning to resist the urge to buy more than we need, and it may mean working to change any laws or practices that disadvantage the poor, the weak and the marginalised.

RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Prayers:
Weak and Poor God
Plenty
A Simple Choice

Hymn Suggestions:
For The Beauty Of The Earth
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
O Worship The Lord In The Beauty Of Holiness
We Give Thee But Thy Own
Kyrie Eleison (An old Fisherfolk song – link to YouTube video)
When I Needed A Neighbour (Link to YouTube video)
A Life Of Love (Scroll down to track 5)
Give Thanks (Link to YouTube video)
God Of Justice (Link to YouTube video)

Liturgy:
A Liturgy of Compassion

Video Suggestions:
Can You See Them
Psalm 146

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