The Collect

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

 

Old Testament

Amos 6:1a,4-7

Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,

and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.

Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,

and lounge on their couches,

and eat lambs from the flock,

and calves from the stall;

who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,

and like David improvise on instruments of music;

who drink wine from bowls,

and anoint themselves with the finest oils, 

but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,

and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

 

 

 

 

The Psalm

Psalm 146

Lauda, anima mea

1 Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord, O my soul! *

I will praise the Lord as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *

for there is no help in them.

3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *

and in that day their thoughts perish.

4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *

whose hope is in the Lord their God;

5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *

who keeps his promise for ever;

6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *

and food to those who hunger.

7 The Lord sets the prisoners free;

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; *

the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

8 The Lord loves the righteous;

the Lord cares for the stranger; *

he sustains the orphan and widow,

but frustrates the way of the wicked.

9 The Lord shall reign for ever, *

your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Hallelujah!

 

 

 

The Epistle

1 Timothy 6:6-19

There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time-- he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.



Lazarus and the Rich Man  Nelly Bube

Lazarus and the Rich Man    Nigel Lawrence



Link to Fr. Plant's study on the Gospel



The Gospel

Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 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.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"


Lazarus and the Rich Man   Codex Aureus Epternacensis   ca. 1030

Lazarus and the Rich Man   Jean Grimes


Reflections on the Scriptures for the Season of Creation


In pursuit of contentment in a consumerist world 1 Timothy 6 contains one of the most misquoted lines, “The love of money is the root of all evil,” often reduced to ‘money is the root of all evil.’ In our rereading such an overly familiar text through ecological lenses, one is invited to ask new questions. Our questions in this sermon are; “what kind of lifestyle is being critiqued here that has adverse effects to the environment?” Furthermore, “is the Bible against one being rich? Lastly, what kind of lifestyle are we being invited to as people of faith? 

I wish to propose that the Scripture reading in 1 Timothy 6: 6-19 seeks to reframe what it means to live in plenty without the need to over consume. An apt reading to reflect on through green lenses in observance of the Season of Creation; especially in the current global wake of consumerism that destroys the environment. Consumerism is often defined as a culture within which the orientation of that society and its people is defined by what they consume.[1] Within this culture, the focus is not only on the goods and services but also on the brands and the status attached to these goods and the statement they make about one’s social standing. Although consumerism is what holds our economies in balance, there is a downside to such a culture or lifestyle when lived without caution. It promotes a ‘rat race’ in search for wealth in order to afford and increase one’s consumption and this more often focuses on the individual and seldom to the benefit of your neighbour. It leads to a life of increased debt; resulting in mental health problems such as stress and depression. On an ecological level, the earth also experiences immeasurable stress as more needs to be extracted from the earth to meet the demand. Critics of consumerism highlight that mass consumerism “exhausts natural resources, creates a tremendous amount of waste disposal, and increases environmental problems at almost every stage in the production process.”[2]  It is in this culture that one is influenced to the notion that ‘you can never have enough’ and encourages the pursuit for accumulating more, whilst plunging yourself and creation into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6: 9). Leading to disharmony experienced through different social and moral ills such as greed and corruption, whilst also promoting destructive environmental actions such as deforestation, the destruction of the coastlands for development.

Paul, in this letter to Timothy reminds us that all riches are from God and it is God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17). This enjoyment is not without responsibility and self-restraint. The challenge is for each of us to reflect on the ‘rat race’ we may find ourselves in and slow down to focus on what is more important (godly treasures) such as living in right relationship with self, with God and with all of God’s creation. Furthermore, understanding that we live under God’s provision and ours is to pursue godliness with contentment, doing good, being gentle not just to neighbour but to the environment. To pursue love and be ready to share (v. 11, 18). All these virtues calling us to a life of conscious interconnectedness between God, ourselves and creation; whilst living in harmony. The invitation is to learn to keep check on what we spend on and for what purposes; while learning to be content and practicing sustainable and ethical living. This way of life leads to abundant life and is the opposite to the life of the rich man in Luke 16: 19-31 that leads to destruction and ruin. Furthermore, it is in how we relate in our socio-material level, maintaining right and just relationships between ourselves and with creation, that we are able to grow wealth in spiritual treasures.

Let us take care of that which gives true meaning to life, whilst living with contentment and in harmony with all that God has created; both human and non-human.  


Revd Mantima Thekisois an ordained minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. 




This week's reflection from "At the Edge of the Enclosure"

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