Worship Service – September 25, 2022

Scripture; Luke 16:19-31

Message; “Clueless”

Luke 16:19-31

The Rich Man And Lazarus

(19) “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. (20) At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores (21) and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
(22) “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. (24) So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
(25) “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. (26) And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
(27) “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, (28) for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
(29) “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
(30) ” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
(31) “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Have you ever noticed that some people are absolutely “Clueless” about some very important things?
Now my wife, Bonne, doesn’t complain often, but once we were having a “heart-to-heart” talk. She said, “Joe, you never listen to me. Every time I try to talk to you, you get this far-away look in your eyes after only a few seconds. Please promise me you’ll try to work on that.” The last thing I remember saying was, “I’m sorry, what was that you were saying?” Shame on me.
Of course, many wives would allege that their husbands are “Clueless”.
One woman says that she and her husband were snuggled together on the floor one chilly winter evening watching television. During a commercial break, she says he reached down and gave her foot a gentle squeeze.
“Mmmmm,” she said. “That’s so sweet.”
“Actually,” he admitted sheepishly, “I thought your foot was the remote.”
According to Pastor Rick Warren, there is a little structure deep in our brain stem called the reticular activating system. The reticular activating system is our brain’s filter; it allows us to filter through all the sensory stimuli we receive and focus only on what is important to us. The reticular activating system allows us to filter out the hum of the air conditioner, the itchy sweater we’re wearing, the flickering light overhead, so that we can focus on the pastor’s message.
Now there are three types of information that are so important that they automatically get through our built-in filter. The three types that get through are, things that are unique, things that we value, and things that we find threatening.
For instance, let’s say you are in an important business meeting. You are focusing all your concentration on your boss’s speech. Suddenly, someone behind you drops the coffee pot. You would almost certainly notice the coffee pot crashing to the floor because this would be both unique and threatening to you.
Or let’s say that you are working on a big project at home when you hear a little squeal come from your baby’s room. You noticed that small sound because you are automatically attuned to your baby. She is valuable to you. Therefore, you notice anything connected to her. All of this is due to the reticular activating system.
Well,Jesus’ audience at this time was not the twelve disciples but the Pharisees. Last week, if you remember in Luke 16 we read: “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” In verse 14. Their reticular activating system was activated. They were sneering at him because of what he told his disciples in verses 10-13. Let me remind you.
Luke 16: 10-13. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Their reticular activating system was activated, because it was unique in its point of view but also threatening in its teaching. If followed, it would reveal how “Clueless” they were about the needs of those around them. It would change how they viewed the values of their lives.
So,Jesus told them a parable about a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in absolute luxury. Because their reticular activating system was activated. As I hope yours is also. So let’s take a closer look at this parable today.
At the rich man’s gate lay a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered with sores. He longed to eat even the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. He lay there day after day in misery. Dogs came and licked his sores.
So every day when the rich man left his estate, he had to pass by Lazarus. Do you think he ever paid attention to Lazarus? I doubt it. His reticular activating system probably filtered this poor man out of the scene. Lazarus was a nobody in the rich man’s world. If he was noticed at all, it was probably as an object of disgust.
It’s interesting, though. In Jesus’ parable we know Lazarus’ name. We don’t know the rich man’s name. Guess who counts in God’s reticular activating system?
However, there came a time when the rich man did notice Lazarus. “The time came when the beggar died,” said Jesus, “and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.”
The rich man also died, said Jesus, but he didn’t go to Abraham’s side. Instead he found himself in hell. From this realm of torment, he looked up and he saw Abraham far away. Then the rich man couldn’t believe his eyes. There at Abraham’s side was this poor beggar who had lain outside his gate, this man of no importance, this man of no consequence, Lazarus. But while the rich man languished in hell, Lazarus was in glory.
Now this is a parable. Let me repeat this is a parable! We should not take this as a literal picture of heaven and hell.
We’re told, in this,”parable”, the rich man could look into heaven. And he could call out to Abraham, which he did. “Father Abraham, have pity on me,” he cried. “Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
The rich man still didn’t get it, did he? Still “Clueless” he thought Lazarus ought to serve him. He was absolutely “Clueless” about the way the kingdom of God works.
So Abraham reminds the rich man that in this world he had many nice things while Lazarus had none. And besides, he says, there is a chasm between heaven and hell that cannot be bridged. In other words, it was too late for the rich man. His fate was sealed. He had turned his head too many times in ignoring the beggar at his gate.
The rich man still didn’t get it. He was still “Clueless” saying:“Then I beg you, father,” he cried, “Send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.”
Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”
“No, father Abraham, said the rich man, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”
Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Now this is a powerful parable. If we took it literally, it would even be a scary parable. So let me ask you a question: Are there people in your world that you don’t even see? Needy people, hurting people, people who need you attention. Are you “Clueless” about their needs?
Actually, they’re everywhere, aren’t they? Maybe within our own family. Or next door, or in the pew next to you. They may not be covered with sores. There may not be dogs licking their sores, but you can see the hurt in their eyes.
Our reticular activating system filters them out. They are not on our radar. They can’t serve our needs, so we don’t even see them. It happens all the time. We’re in a hurry. We’ve got places to go, people to meet, goals to accomplish, we don’t see what is right before our eyes. We’re “Clueless” to their needs.
How many times have you heard someone say.”Don’t tell me”,”I don’t need to know,” or,”to much information.”? We wish to remain “Clueless” about the needs of those around us. We want to keep our conscience clear so our reticular activating system won’t be activated.
So what was Jesus trying to teach the Pharisees and us today in this parable? Maybe these were the same Pharisees that question him wanting to know what was the most important commandment.
In the gospel of Mark 12:28-31 we find that: ‘One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I believe he was trying to teach them how to love. Because too many times the Pharisees like us remain “Clueless” when it comes to loving God and especially clueless when it comes to loving your neighbor as yourself.
So the first thing we need to understand from this parable of the rich man and Lazarus is that, Love Sees. The rich man passed this poor beggar day after day and never really saw him. He was “Clueless” until it was too late. You and I need to train our eyes to see those around us. Being sensitive to others is not something that comes naturally to most of us. It’s something at which we need to work. Being sensitive to the needs of others is something we need to work at. Because Love sees.
There’s a story about a man who went to visit in a home where there were several children, and, trying to relate to the kids, he asked one of the girls about her doll collection. “Which is your favorite doll?” he asked. “Promise not to laugh if I tell you?” she questioned. He promised not to laugh, and the little
girl got up, went into another room, and brought back a worn-out, tattered doll that looked like a refugee from the trash pile. There was a crack in the arm, a missing nose, marks all over the body and a bald head. The man did not laugh, but unable to hide his surprise, he asked, “Why do you love this one the most?” She replied, “Because she needs it most. If I didn’t love her, nobody would.”
In the attitude of this young girl we see a part of the teaching in this parable. God is in the lives of those who cry out to us for our love and compassion. Yet we remain “Clueless”. We miss them because we choose to miss them. We don’t see them as threatening or of any value. We remain “Clueless” because our reticular activating system filters them out. Being sensitive to the needs of others is something we need to work at. Because Love sees.
The second thing the Jesus is trying to teach in this parable is that, Love Acts. Not only did the rich man remain “Clueless” by not even seeing Lazarus at his gates, there is no evidence that he ever did anything to help Lazarus’ situation. All he did was turn a blind eye.
He was much like a young woman about to get married who said to her mother, “I can’t marry him, mother. He’s an atheist and he doesn’t believe there is a hell.”
Her mother, knowing that love acts responded by saying, “That’s all right, dear, marry him and between the two of us I am sure we can convince him.”
You may laugh at that but the truth of the matter is that, Love Acts. All to often we spend our lives doing nothing for one another. We miss the opportunity to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially when we don’t tell others about God’s grace and the salvation that is available to us through Christ. We choose to let them remain “Clueless” about eternal things.
Jesus was definitely teaching the Pharisees and us about love. Reminding us that, Love Sees, Love Acts, and Love Heals.
How often at a funeral have we seen people torn apart with guilt. They feel guilty not because they ever said anything mean about the deceased. Certainly they had never abused their loved one except out of neglect. They find themselves saying, “I should have been there. I should have done this. I should have done that, I was “Clueless” about their …
How wonderful at such times it is to know that we were not “Clueless“ and did what we should have. We saw. We cared. We showed our love. There is healing in such knowledge.
We have no indication that the rich man was a bad man. He was just “Clueless”. He didn’t see. He didn’t act. He probably spent eternity mumbling, “Where in the world have I been?” Clueless of what it is to love.
Are you, “Clueless” of what it is to Love. Please promise me you’ll try to work on that.
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220925
Listen To Audio: Service 09252022
Let us be content with what we have; to seek heavenly treasures rather than those things of this world which rust corrodes and moths consume.  Let us be people who share the wealth that God has provided; that we might be ones who share both the bread and wine of earth and the bread and wine of heaven.  Come, let us worship God!
Call to Worship:L:  Come and worship!P:  We will praise the One between, within, and over.L:  Trust in the One who creates the was, the now, and the will-be.

P:  Our hope is in the One who creates expansive love calling us to do the same.

L:  Praise the One whose justice is grace-full and inclusive.

P:  We praise the Spirit that spans the ages.  Amen!



Prayer of Confession:   Sometimes God we take ourselves so seriously —our opinions, our emotions, our needs, our entitlements— that we fail to notice our effect on others.  And we do not make connections between our limitless wants and the resources left for others.  We do this without knowing it.  Bring our awareness to Justice for all to the common good, to your universality of blessings.  Remind us you love all.  Amen.


God be with you ‘til we meet again, By His counsels guide, up-hold you, With His sheep securely fold you: God be with you ‘til we meet again




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday mornings from 10:00 to 12:00.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Picnic following this morning’s worship.

Loose change goes to General Fund.

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Newsletter deadline is Tuesday, September 27.

Social Hour following church on October 2th.

Presbyterian Women will meet on Thursday, October 13 at 11 A.M.

Men’s Breakfast, Wednesday October 19 at 8:00 A.M.

Please mark your envelope if you are contributing to the snowblower fund.

Choir practice will be Thursday, at 9 to 10 at the church.  Please consider joining us in singing God’s praises!  We will begin singing during the church service on next week.

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.  Hosting only means setting out what is brought and cleaning up afterward.  It does not mean bringing everything to share.

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