Even more that they admonished the Church to be Christian, broke all the ritual codes, came as paupers of peace instead of princes of war, and ate with the wrong people, as Rudy Rasmus says, what got Jesus hung on a cross in Jerusalem and Martin assassinated on a balcony in Memphis is that “they messed with other people’s money.”

Historians, scholars and theologians agree that today’s text was arguably Martin’s favorite, one he referenced in his last Sunday sermon before leaving for Tennessee.

Luke 16:19-31.  What’s the danger of wealth?

Congregational responses:

That you might get robbed.
Money can seduce us into autonomy, that we don’t need each other or God.
Financial privilege can lead to greed, the insatiable need that never gets filled.
Buy the lie that salvation can be bought
You go blind

For this rich man, death is the hell of an endless box of checks that won’t clear heaven’s bank account, tormented with stacks of money to burn, unable to love anyone other than his Benjamins, forever seeing green when clarity was simply peering through the pickets of his mansion’s fence.

What’s the danger of wealth?

That it denigrates our spiritual wisdom, renders our compassion near sighted, induces a Glaucoma of the soul to what’s always hiding in plain sight where dogs salivate and crumbs fall between the cracks, the 20/20 salvation of the beggar flying his cardboard sign and rattling his cup at the gates of our lives.

Barbara Brown Taylor similarly says, “it is too late for the rich man, and Lazarus isn’t telling the five brothers, but Jesus,” because we still have time to disrobe from our purple lines and invite the world to our tables of plenty, “has slipped us a copy of the story.”  A bold print edition of the Good News.

There was a historic practice called Levee Day in Washington D.C. when the White House was open to the public.  If you stood in line long enough, then you too would be able to shake the hand of the President, engage him in a conversation.

Abraham Lincoln called Levee Day, “a public opinion bath, and while unpleasant, renovating and invigorating to my perceptions.”  It was “invigorating to my perceptions.”

In 1864, four black Americans waiting for their turn to see and be seen by Abe demanded their equal rights.  Many believe those four men bent history towards freedom, influenced the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

So “Beloved Community,” for the world’s sake, for the rich man’s sake, for our sake, for the kingdom come and for the dream to continue, as Martin Luther King said, let us be a people who “love the hell” out of each other.  Let us “love the hell” out of each other.