Easter 3, Choral Evensong
A Sermon preached by Fr Peter Wolton at St John the Baptist, Evensong on Sunday 19 April 2015
PARABLE OF LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN (St. Luke Ch.16)
The last week has seen glorious weather, and each evening the sun kissed pubs along the river in West London, many of them perhaps hosts to the Hogarth Singers, have been doing roaring trade.
London too is booming for many of it is inhabitants. According to yesterday’s Times, Britain has created more new jobs in the last five years than the whole of the rest of the EU combined. Here, in our parish, people are arriving from places such as Italy, to secure work. And as they leave their home country, so others come.
The spring weather and calmer waters have also seen a return to business for those plying their trade, taking migrants from North African shores to Europe. Last year an estimated 170,000 made the perilous crossing, with many drowning. Sadly today, the worst disaster yet has happened with perhaps 650 drowned when a ship capsized. Questions abound about what should be done, ranging from total assistance to acting as Australia did with boat people and stopping recuing, which ultimately stemmed the flow of migrants.
The world has many huge challenges raising complex questions, a world where the Holy Spirit is alive and active but a world still characterised by the persistence of sin.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a deeply uncomfortable read. Here in Holland Park, we have some of the most expensive houses in the country alongside the bed and breakfast accommodation of Holland Road.
Our parish of St. John the Baptist is in the top 25% of most deprived parishes in the country.
Followers of Jesus Christ believe every human being is created in the image of God; all of us, Christians and non Christians, are deeply moved by the plight of the African refugees, and by the needs of our neighbours. Question for us personally do arise: What can we actually do about it? Would Jesus see us as examples of the rich person in the parable for whom “a great chasm has been fixed”? This Jesus who asked “Who is my neighbour?” and then launched in to another parable, that of the Good Samaritan. What can we actually do? How can we bridge the chasm?
There are I suggest three possible answers to this. To pray, to act, to give. Given personal circumstances, it may only be possible to do one, hopefully two and just maybe all three.
To Pray: to always remember those in need both in this country and beyond, in our prayers.
To Act: if we have time, to support one of the many excellent local voluntary organisations in the part of London. The Upper Room (http://www.theupperroom.org.uk/) and St. Mungos Broadway (http://www.mungosbroadway.org.uk/) are two such doing amazing work helping homeless people into accommodation and employment.
To Give: regular donations as well as volunteering are the life blood of charities. This week, as well as the tragic news about the Mediterranean boat people, came the welcome news that the Archbishop of Canterbury has become a patron of the charity “Christians against Poverty” (https://capuk.org/) which helps families escape from the prison of debt and addiction. Do check out CAP.
We give thanks to God for the myriad of charities, donors and philanthropists that work to bridge the chasm between today’s Lazarus’s and “rich dressed in purple” and ask that we too may play our part