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SEND Initiative High School Bridger Trip Lazarus and the Lakota Reservation

The students arrived in Bridger Monday at 8:00 p.m. after 14 hours on the road.They agreed to leave at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to help Hawkwing unload 240 donated new mattresses. What a group! Today they had a morning hike up the ridge. I'm sure their experience is changing their lives and making a memory that will serve them forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several years ago, John Howell wrote an Advent devotion about Lazarus and a Lakota grandmother. We thought Dr. Howell's thoughts about Lazarus and the Lakota people were worth sharing again here as you pray for the High School SEND team. Hopefully, we can learn from the trip as well.

Luke 16:19-31

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” (Luke 16:25).

The central figure in Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man is Lazarus. He was homeless, crippled, covered with sores and hungry to the point of eating bread thrown under the table when a sumptuous meal was served in the rich man’s house. Tradition declared that bread was used as a napkin during the meal and was thrown under the table after serving its purpose. Lazarus was obviously one of the nobodies in Jesus’ stories of people for whom nobody cares.

Now suppose we turn away from Lazarus to visit an elderly Lakota Indian grandmother in North Dakota. She is facing a typical winter while living in a shack with a leaking roof, walls blackened by soot from a malfunctioning coal stove and no family to protect her. She is one of the nobodies in that northern culture.

Suddenly members of a tribal repair group come to her shack with repair materials, money, and skills to change her living quarters. Now she will be warm, dry, and clean for the winter, even in her one-room shack.

What happens to Lazarus? He and the rich man, who was given the name Dives, will die and go to Sheol, the Jewish place of the dead. But now circumstances are changed. Lazarus has entered the Paradise section of Sheol, while Dives is assigned to the punishment section. Why the difference?

Father Abraham explains, “Son, remember in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.” Throughout the times of Lazarus’ agony, Dives could have obeyed the instructions of the Torah, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), but he ignored his neighbor’s need for care.

The difference between the Lakota grandmother and Lazarus is that someone cared for her while Dives did not care for Lazarus. This is the challenge of Jesus’ story. Dives in Sheol may eventually express some concern for his brothers, but it comes too late to warn them.  Abraham says if they have not obeyed the Torah, “they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” The failure of many today to trust in the risen Christ proves that to be true.

Dr. John C. Howell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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