Oct. 2, 2019 Digging Ditches
Have you ever thought about the ways we connect? We connect at church; with the people who sit near us, to the hymns and the readings…
We connect at home; to our families, to our surroundings, to a beloved pet.
We connect at work; to the task at hand, coworkers, maybe even the mission of our company?
We connect with the world; a beautiful sunset, a ripe juicy apple, butterflies landing on a fragrant bush.
Connection is lovely. It fills our soul and our senses.
But these are not the only connection opportunities that we find in our lives.
Connection is defined as: a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.
Through that definition we are forced to consider connections to things that push and challenge us. Connections to suffering, opposing ideas, and people who see the world vastly differently than we do.
Did you notice that in the parable that we hear from Jesus today, that only one of the characters is named? We have Lazarus, poor, destitute, hungry Lazarus and we have the rich man. I can’t help but think that “rich man” is really a way to name all of us. Now that is not to say that we are all feasting at banquets and ignoring the suffering poor directly outside our gates. But maybe it is a push to recognize the connections and relationships that we choose to overlook because they are hard for us.
We have had a lot of parables in the last few months, and this parabolic teaching calls us to see that the connections we choose either connect us to God and to each other or separate us. Never is that more obvious than in today’s parable.
In today’s parable, the rich man ignores poor suffering Lazarus. Instead of connecting, even simply by offering the scraps from his table, he chooses his wealth, connects to his wealth, and there by separates himself from Lazarus, humanity, and ultimately God. By choosing that connection, he effectively picked up a shovel, stuck it in the ground and began digging a hole.
“Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.”
I have been thinking about this image of a chasm all week. In my mind and in my heart, this chasm looks and feels a lot like the Grand Canyon. But how did it get like this, how did the distance between each of us, and those that we name as other get so vast? How did we not see that this chasm that we are digging, is also a chasm that separates us from God?
For me, I think it might be that I am digging this chasm one shovel at a time. Each time I pick up my shovel, place my foot on the lip, and pry loose a pile of dirt, rocks, and fear, I am choosing not just to separate myself from things that are hard for me, but also from my true self, and ultimately from God.
Today is Day School Sunday, and I have to admit, that I was less than thrilled when I saw that today’s Gospel was about separation, ditches, and chasms, on a day that we plan to celebrate connections and love. But when I get right down to it, I think that might be what this parable is all about.
Each day, I have a choice. I get to choose: connection and love or separation and fear. To take that further, we get to choose: the young, the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the people who see things different from us, our grumpy neighbor, and a crying baby. We get to choose humanity and all of the messy and challenging reality of following Jesus, of being His disciple or we choose to stick our shovel in the ground and dig a ditch.
So today I offer you an opportunity for connection and love, it is Christ Church Day School Sunday after all. Maybe you have noticed already, but there is a gift in your bulletin. Late last night, I stuffed each of your bulletins with joyful, smiling, eager faces. Each of you has a photo in your bulletin of one of our day school classes, a photo of students and teachers, a photo of hope and love.
Christ Church Day School Sunday is a day to be reminded that outside that door, and across a very small courtyard, we are connected to a school.
Because school takes place Monday-Friday and we are here on Sundays, it is easy to forget that one cannot take place without the other. It is through our relationship with each other, that we are whole. Part of what makes us Christ Church, is Christ Church Day School. Part of what makes us followers of Jesus and his teachings is our connection and care for the children just across the courtyard.
I encourage you to see me at the end of the service so I can tell you a little bit about the kids in your photo. Get your coffee, bring your picture, and I will tell you their grade, their teacher, and something fun they get to do each year. Please take that photo home with you today, put it on your fridge, and pray for them all year.
We get to choose connection and love.
And connection and love not only brings us closer to each other, but also to God.
9/29/2019 - Proper 21 Year C - Charlette Preslar, Christ Church Day School Chaplain