Luke 16:19-31, NIRV
The Rich Man and Lazarus
“Once there was a rich man. He was dressed in purple cloth and fine linen. He lived an easy life every day. A man named Lazarus was placed at his gate. Lazarus was a beggar. His body was covered with sores. Even dogs came and licked his sores. All he wanted was to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.
“The time came when the beggar died. The angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In the place of the dead, the rich man was suffering terribly. He looked up and saw Abraham far away. Lazarus was by his side. So the rich man called out, ‘Father Abraham! Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water. Then he can cool my tongue with it. I am in terrible pain in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember what happened in your lifetime. You received your good things. Lazarus received bad things. Now he is comforted here, and you are in terrible pain. Besides, a wide space has been placed between us and you. So those who want to go from here to you can’t go. And no one can cross over from there to us.’
“The rich man answered, ‘Then I beg you, father Abraham. Send Lazarus to my family. I have five brothers. Let Lazarus warn them. Then they will not come to this place of terrible suffering.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. Let your brothers listen to them.’
“ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will turn away from their sins.’
“Abraham said to him, ‘They do not listen to Moses and the Prophets. So they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
There is a theme that we visit a lot in the Bible. It’s the theme that earthly treasures don’t last! What is a treasure? (Allow children to answer.) Google says that a treasure is something that is valued highly. Many times, we would say things like money, valuable toys, or expensive things are treasures. Throughout this series, we have discovered that Jesus wants us to put our treasures toward more heavenly matters. Can you name some other themes we have talked about? (Allow children to respond with other themes.) God wants us to use our abilities and special talents to honor God. We can be generous with what we have and enjoy it, and we can try to show others that we are living our lives as Jesus did. Sometimes we may make mistakes, but Jesus also wants us to remember that God loves and forgives us when we do turn away from sin and turn toward God.
Jesus wants us to always remember the most important thing, and that most important thing is placing God as our top priority.
I have your final Scrabble game piece for you today. Before I hand it out, let’s review all the letters we have received so far. The first week, you received the letter “P” to remind us of the price or cost of being a follower of Jesus. The second week, you received the letter “Y,” which is a reminder of the yells of excitement and joy from heaven when someone turns away from sin and turns toward God. In the third week, I gave you the letter “A” to help you remember to always put God first in your life. Remember the alphabet begins with the letter “A” and remember also that God should be in first place in our lives.
Today, I have your final letter. It is the letter “R.” This letter reminds us to ask the question, “Are you always making God your top priority?” In other words, is Jesus number one?
Now you have four letters, a “P,” a “Y,” an “A” and an “R.” If we play the game of Scrabble, and move the letters around, what word do you think we can make with those four letters? (Allow children to offer a couple of guesses.)
We could pray for guidance on this (overly excited). That is it! I know what word we can spell: P-R-A-Y.
We must remember that through Jesus’ words and stories, we learned that we should take time to pray. We must remember to take time for relationships and peoples’ lives. We must remember to pray for others and continue to pray to grow in our relationship with God.
In fact, let’s do that now. Jesus taught us a lot through the stories he told. He also told us that no matter where we are, we can say the prayer that he taught the disciples. We call it the Lord’s Prayer.
If you know it, will you say it with me?
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and
the glory, forever. Amen.
[From the Ritual of the Former Methodist Church, #895 in
The United Methodist Hymnal.]