The chasm

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         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, “…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.”
                  —From Luke 16. 19-31

Oh, poor rich man, separated by that gulf. What is it? And who put it there, who fixed that chasm? You ate well, while Lazarus starved outside your gate. You were covered in fine clothes, and he in sores. That gate kept you from seeing, didn’t it? Kept you from Lazarus. Made him seem so different, so unlike you. When you are brought into the unseen world the chasm is even more clear. Lazarus has a name, an identity, but yours is only the name you’ve made for yourself: your riches; you have no other name. You who have only thought of yourself die alone and are buried, but Lazarus who has been ever mindful of you is carried by angels to be with Abraham. When you enter the torment of your self-centeredness, your thirst, your selfishness, your urge to press Lazarus into your service, still they burn in you. And still you separate yourself from him. You call out to “Father” Abraham but he is not your father, is he? He has no family, does he, no sons and daughters? You have no brothers or sisters but those few in your little house, behind that great, blinding, world-closing gate. You don’t understand that Lazarus is your brother. He is still outside your gate, beyond the chasm you have made.

That great chasm is in your heart, the gate between you and the world, and it will remain until you cross it, until you become the brother of the poor. Prophets have told you, and one has even been raised from the dead to call to you, one who ate with sinners and healed the sick, and acted as a brother to the outcast beyond the gate. He is calling now. The torment of Hades is not in the afterlife, but in the secret life beneath this one. It is not punishment or just desserts; it is simply the reality in your heart. Your torment is not eternal; it is in this moment.

The flames are burning in you, flames heavy with the aroma of a sumptuous feast. You lie at the gate of the world, with sores on the inside from having severed yourself from your kin, your blood. It is not too late to change your heart, to cross the gulf and enter the world, and become a brother, a sister to the poor, and find yourself finally in the bosom of Abraham. Will you?
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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