Proper 21 (September 26, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Ps. 146; I Tim. 6:6-19; Lk. 16:19-31
This week we welcomed Deb and Jim Fine as new service workers for northern Iraq. Deb will teach English and Jim will serve as program coordinator, bringing to four the number of MCC staff in Iraq.
Staff from Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine/Israel will gather near Amman for a 3-day retreat, Sept. 26-29. These annual gatherings are fun times to relax, share stories and encourage one another.
This week in the region, one Palestinian was killed and a number of Palestinians and Israelis were injured in clashes in Silwan – an area just outside the Old City of Jerusalem and near the ancient City of David. The Jerusalem city council recently gave approval to demolish 22 Palestinian homes to make a new Israeli park in the area.
The partial moratorium on building Israeli settlements in the West Bank is set to expire on Sept. 26. In spite of strong international pressure to extend the moratorium, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has expressed reluctance for doing so. The Palestinian Authority has threatened to pull out of the present peace talks if the moratorium is not extended.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – along with Germany, have issued a call for negations with Iran over its nuclear program. Iran has also indicated a willingness to talk.
The Common Lectionary readings this week call us to trust in God rather than to set our hopes on things that are fleeting.
In the Old Testament reading Amos warns against living a life of ease, while failing to grieve injustice and violence in the human community (Amos 6:4-7).
The psalmist admonishes: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in who there is no help.” (Ps. 146:3) Rather, we are to place our hope in God, who created the heaven and earth, keeps faith forever, executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry (vv. 5-7).
In the Epistle reading, Paul instructs Timothy to command the wealthy not “to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (I Tim. 6:17) Those who have the world’s resources are to “do good, to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share.” (v.18)
In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31). The rich man lived a life of luxury, while ignoring the needs of the impoverished Lazarus. But in the afterlife, Lazarus is comforted and the rich man suffers agony.
When the troubles and injustices around us seem so great, it is easy to try to escape to our own small worlds – accumulating resources and thinking only of ourselves. The readings this week call us to consider the well-being of others.