“Closing the Chasm” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I hope that you are having a good week, remembering from Pastor Kaji’s sermon to take the time to rest and take care of yourself. I know I have been trying to be more intentional about that time. I have also been sitting with the ways God is calling me to seek liberation for the spaces and the people who are still under the thumb of systemic oppression in our world. I pray daily for their and your liberation.
Thinking of our call to liberation has offered me a new lens for when I read our scripture. I continue to ask in depth questions about who is named (or not) in the story. Who has been given agency over their own life? Who and how is God at work? It has been really helpful in bringing new meaning to how scripture might be used in my day to day life. Read this week’s scripture from Luke, where do you see God at work?
At the gate of this person’s estate lay a beggar named Lazarus, who was covered with sores. Lazarus longed to eat the scraps that fell from the rich person’s table, and even the dogs came and licked Lazarus’s sores. One day, poor Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to the arms of Sarah and Abraham. The rich person likewise died and was buried. In Hades, in torment, the rich person looked up and saw Sarah and Abraham in the distance, and Lazarus resting in their company.
“’Sarah and Abraham,’ the rich person cried, ‘have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am tortured by these flames!’ But they said, ‘My child, remember that you were well off in your lifetime, while Lazarus was in misery. Now Lazarus has found consolation here, and you have found torment. But that’s not all. Between you and us there is a fixed chasm, so that those who might wish to come to you from here can’t do so, nor can anyone cross from your side to us.’ (Luke 16:20-26)
One of the things that spoke to me in this text is the fact that the “rich” person is not named. How often in our world do we know the names of the rich, the powerful, and the privileged, yet are not given the names of those society has deemed less than worthy of recognition? And how each time we do this-not see people- the chasm between us gets wider. This story is meant to remind us that in the eyes of God we all are seen, recognized, and worthy of connection and equity. It is an example of how we are to treat each other as we seek to build God’s kindom on earth.
Each and every one of us is a unique gift from God. We cannot build the kindom of God without using the gifts of our authentic selves to build relationship and community. We all have different privileges and gifts, both spiritual and physical. That is the commonality that we share, that is present in the rich person, in Lazarus, and in each of you- God created each of us with unique gifts. But It’s how you use your gifts that matter. The chasm that Sarah and Abraham speak of as “fixed” is one that only happens after your life is done. You can’t take what you’ve done in life back. But the chasm in your life isn’t fixed. You can close the gaps by working to deconstruct systems of oppression that keep the liberation and equity of all people from flourishing…from connecting. We are meant to share our gifts and come together in community.
Friends, this week I hope that you remember that you are a gift. A gift to be used to liberate, to build, to connect, to love. May the many gifts that you bring to this world be shared and used here on earth before the great chasm of humanity gets wider.
A quick prayer for your week: Lord, May I remember that gifts are meant to be given not kept. Amen