“Family Under Your Nose” Ash Wednesday
Luke 16: 19-31 February 17, 2021
Back in 2008, a movie came out that had an impact on my life. It is called, “Slumdog Millionaire.” Have any of you seen it? I had been vaguely aware of life in the slums of India, but this movie “put a face” on the children. They were destitute, yes, but also full of hope and promise, and they were eager for education. The main character managed to survive into young-adulthood, when all of his past experiences combined to give him the answers to apparently “random” questions on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” It’s a beautiful film that celebrates the Beauty of life in even the ugliest of surroundings.
For years, we have supported the Rural Presbyterian Church of Northern India, which is helping “untouchables” leave the slavery into which they were born, and step into the fullness of the stature of Christ. It’s WONDERFUL! It was started by a man who, as an “untouchable” boy, was given an opportunity to get some education and God blessed him with a wonderful ministry in the U.S. When he retired, he poured himself into the unfortunate masses “back in his homeland” (especially the children). Much of the work of the Presbyterian Church of North India centers around providing free education to children who would otherwise never have that opportunity. This gives them freedom from “the slavery of untouchability,” and it gives me hope!
You see, friends, we live in a Global Neighborhood. You and I are connected with the entire world—economically, culturally, and spiritually! That which effects someone halfway around the globe effects ME!
In our Scripture reading tonight, Jesus tells a story about an unnamed Rich Man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. I sense that the message of the story is that we have family right under our noses! The tragedy of this story is that the rich man did NOT see Lazarus as a brother, but he just left him outside of his concern. Meanwhile, Lazarus “longed to satisfy his hunger with that which fell from the rich man’s table.”
You see, God has provided us with potential brothers and sisters, folks who would love to have just a scrap of our attention, a leftover bit of our time, a taste of the surplus of life that flows to us. And they are right under our noses.
During this time of preparation for Easter, we have an opportunity to reflect on the life that God gives us—and the life that God wants to give us through these new family members! I encourage you to notice the people that God is putting into your circle. Perhaps new people have moved into your neighborhood, as is our situation. Maybe a new person has shown up with someone in your circle of friends. After this pandemic is over, we’ll have more opportunities to reach out to people in person! In the meantime, we can make more effort to donate to the food pantry, pray for folks who are having a struggle, and open ourselves to the possibility of engagement with folks who are very different from ourselves.
Please rejoice with me that, wherever we are, God is putting new sisters and brothers, new uncles and aunts, and new children right under our noses—and we have the joy of reaching out and welcoming them to the family of blessing!