I have this penchant.
No, I don't mean a pendant. I mean a penchant. A pendant is something suspended from something else, ya know, like an ornament or a piece of jewelry. A penchant is a strong or habitual liking for something or tendency to do something.
I have this penchant. Specifically, I have a penchant, a tendency to be helpfully unhelpful. Ya know, I've got this ability to show up in a kitchen right after everything has been set on the table, and ask if I can be helpful when help is no longer needed. Or I show up at the sink right after the last dish has been scraped, rinsed, and placed in the dishwasher and ask if there's a way I can help. Ya know, perfect timing. It's a penchant, a tendency to being helpfully unhelpful.
I feel bad about this penchant of mine. I really do, but not too much, because I've seen and heard that others have the exact same penchant.
Like one time, for example, I stopped by a retired friend who had visited a European cathedral with thirty or so steps up to the front door. And at the top of the steps was a sign for the handicapped that pointed them to an assistance desk once they got to the top of the stairs. I think that qualifies. Helpfully unhelpful.
Additionally, another time, I was asked to share a prayer at a local Senior Center Octoberfest. (In German, it's spelled Oktoberfest; so said a Grouchy German known as SauerKraut.) When I stepped in the Men's Room to wash up before lunch, I spotted a button high on the wall between two stations. The sign with it said, "FOR ASSISTANCE, PUSH BUTTON." So, uh, somebody help me out here. How exactly is that button supposed to help? What? Somebody falls down and then screams at the button high on the wall? I think that qualifies. Helpfully unhelpful.
See I'm not alone in my penchant.
It's a good thing God has a different penchant. God has shown us through Jesus that God has a penchant, a strong or habitual liking or tendency to do something, namely, to actually be helpful!
In fact, in today's verse, that's what "Lazarus" means. The name "Lazarus" means "God helps me." Lazarus had a hard earthly life: laid up, stepped on, stepped over, sore-riddled, poverty-riddled. But Lazarus trusted God's penchant to actually be helpful. And through faith, Lazarus received much help from God: to endure, to persevere, to keep the faith, to inspire, to have courage, to speak wisdom, to find comfort.
What's your penchant? Many of you have told me your penchant, your tendency is to attract things like stress-producing people, life-complicating problems, and when-will-these-end annoyances. But, hey, don't ask me what to do about your penchant. Remember, I have a penchant to be helpfully unhelpful.
Instead, take a hint from Lazarus, who had a penchant for faith in God. And Lazarus had faith in God because God has a penchant to actually be helpful!