First Sunday in Trinity 06 June A.D. 2021 Holy Communion

                      First Sunday after Trinity   06 June A.D. 2021     Holy Communion

                 The Epistle. 1 John 4:7-21                The Gospel. Luke 16:19-31

                            O God, the strength of all those who put their trust
                            in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because,
                            through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no
                            good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace,
                            that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee,
                            both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen


         What an interesting contrast found in our Epistle and Gospel for this Sunday.

On the one hand we read about the absolute LOVE of God. He loved us, not that we loved him, and because of his love, he sent his Son to be a substitute or propitiation for our sins. 7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

  Wow, God did that for us?   Yes, and if God did that for us, then we should love one another. John goes on to write because God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us we will become his ambassadors as such here on earth.  How is that you say?  ‘...know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, ....and we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world...(that) whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God...’  
 That is how we know that we are to be ambassadors of God here on earth. 
 
     In these most trying times we should take comfort in the following; 17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.   19.“We love him, because he first loved us.” 

    Here now is the contrast I was writing about.   In our second passage, the Gospel reading, we find the only parable of Christ where names are used.  The name of Lazarus, not the brother of Mary and Martha, another fellow named Lazarus, is in horrible shape here on earth.  We read of his extreme poverty.  He dies and is carried to Abraham’s bosom by angels.  Notice the stark contrast to the description of the rich man’s death.  “...the rich man also died and was buried.”
   But that isn’t the end of the parable. The rich man is in hell. He is in torment and he can see Lazarus, who he surely knew from seeing him at his door day after day begging for just a crumb to eat.  
Notice the two men have now switched places after death. 
 This is not about karma, or any other ‘what goes around comes around’; no it is about hell.   Theologians believe that this is the hell/sheol place that Christ would descent to where he would ‘led captivity captive’.  This time was after his death and before his resurrection.  Those saints who died before Christ came and died on the Cross went to this place that is described in the particular parable. 
    I would like to point out some very interesting concepts from this parable. 

 1. Hell is real. It is a place of torment, it is dry and hot AND the person in hell does not die spiritually, they continue to suffer.
  Have you heard people bragging that they are so bad, that God would not have them in heaven?  In fact they say they want to go to hell to be with there friends. 
 2. Notice something very ominous?   The rich man is ALONE!  There are no other people around him. He is by himself, suffering, being tormented.  I think one of the most frightful conditions humans can find themself in is being alone.  We do like some time alone, but not days on end, or in the case of Hell, eternity.  
  3. Now is the time of Salvation.  We must follow Jesus now, not after we are dead. It is too late by then. The rich man, even in his torment, has compassion on his five living brothers. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to testify to them about the place they will be going if they don’t repent.  What does the patriarch say to the rich man?  They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.  The rich man is sure that if Lazarus goes back, his brothers will listen.  Abraham assures him that if they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded by one who rose from the dead.
   Wow, in this parable, Jesus is making a very interesting prediction.  Even with all the evidence of the resurrection of Christ, people will still not believe.   Even with that fact in mind, Jesus still tells us in this parable, that we must follow him today, because after death it is too late. 
   Preaching about hell is not politically correct.  The liberal churches say all we need to preach about is getting along with each other and maybe throw some love of God in for good measure.
   The problem with that is that if I do not warn you the listener, the reader of this message, that there is hell waiting for those who do not turn from their wickedness and live, then I have failed to warn you.  That is a very grave mistake on my part, I need to warn you so you do not go the way of the rich man.   And by the way, this is not saying that having wealth will condemn you to hell.  It is about what you do with that wealth while you are here on earth.  Christ had many friends and followers from all strata of life, both rich and poor, common laborer and learned, all parts of society were represented. So he wasn’t calling out those of wealth. No he was pointing out that no matter who you are...you will have a reckoning with God; if you do not turn from your wickedness, repent, and turn to God.    He sent his Son to save us from our sin, we must accept that gift and as stated above, repent and be saved.  
    So what is our main message today?   God is love.   His love is demonstrated by God sending his Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us and to lead us to life, that is eternal life.  We only have one opportunity to get right with God, now is the time of salvation, not after we die.
   Beloved, who do you follow?  Is it the god of this world, or is it God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?
Let us pray:
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 THE peace of God, which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.
 

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