2016-07-09 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
“Ditches and Dodges”
Spoiler alert! The good guy in the end, is your own worst enemy!
Or…this is a story about how the bad guy → into the good guy…
A word about Samaritans & Jews…this is a 2000(?) year-old rivalry.
This isn’t just “I insulted your cousin in 87 BCE…this is a matter of each religious community hating each other.
They would deface each other’s religious institutions and rituals.
They would mock each other’s faith and practices.
These people had become worst enemies…
So prepare yourself….who’s your worst enemy these days? Who is the person that is sure to be excluded from your backyard summer party? If you were broken down on the side of the road with a flat tire, en route to FolkFest, who would be the LAST person that you would like to help you?
Or to take it even deeper…we are Christians…who are the people who mock us, or intentionally defame us or mock us?
– – Perhaps it’s a person…perhaps it’s a person of a certain race, gender, social status, sexual orientation, religious persuasion….
[fill in the blank here]
* * * * *
This is Jesus, weeks away from his final week…he’s spent almost 3 years with his disciples and in these final days he’s trying to impress upon them the things that matter most…when you are rejected, turn the other cheek;
As you seek the kingdom of good, don’t look back…look ahead;
And as you go, know that you are sent in simplicity and peace…pronounce peace to the places you enter…tell them “the kingdom of God is near!”
The disciples have encountered miracles and success in these days and Jesus is proclaiming words of blessing upon them…
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
– – Just then a lawyer (and earnest disciple…let’s call him Thaddeus) stood up in the tent gathering desiring to learn more… “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus asks: “What do you read in God’s law?”
Thaddeus replies: “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…and love your neighbour as yourself.”
Jesus: “Right answer! DO THIS…and you will live.”
Thaddeus pushes a bit further… “Jesus, you know I do this! And who is my neighbour?”
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him,
he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two (day’s wage), gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
– – Thaddeus…which of these 3, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?
“The one who showed him mercy.” [note how he couldn’t sputter out the word “the Samaritan?”. . . can we say our enemy’s name?]
Jesus said: “Go and do likewise.”
* * * * * * *
Go and do likewise – – – show mercy!
And be ready for the surprising ways that God will change and heal the world.
Now, this is not a story to make us do more or to feel bad about not doing more.
But the good news…and the compelling news of this story is that when we behave like Thaddeus, complicating the conversation with hypotheticals and an array of implausible variables and caveats…when we are looking for loopholes to get out of the Jesus-y work that Jesus is calling us to…
Jesus foregoes the loop hole…and offers us a black hole. When we are trying to figure out who we get to leave out, Jesus says it’s a black hole of love that is swallowing up ALL and including ALL for the good of his kingdom and the good of the world.
When we are deciding that the last and the least get to be ignored, Jesus shows us that they may very well be at the head of the line in the economy of God.
When we are satisfied with our smug and comfortable religious ways, God tells us that he desires mercy and not sacrifice.
Barbara Brown Taylor, when teaching/preaching on this story, says that the lawyer has made the leap of thought, the leap of understanding, knowledge and even emotion…but has not made the leap of action – – of showing mercy, of being a neighbour, or DOING love.
And in this story, only “doing love” leads to eternal life…only “doing love” leads to the fullness of life that make us believe that there is no end to life or love when God is in charge.
Again…this is not a shaming, wagging finger, forcing us to do more…but it is a push and a prod from Jesus…where’s he’s not letting us off the hook when we say right answers!
GTBC – – Fruit Basket Church – – Eggs in 1 Basket Church…there’s stuff for us to do…but we don’t do it from places of shame, guilt, or obligation…there’s tons of that in the world and you don’t need our church to heap more of those expectations on you.
“So love God. Love a neighbor. Be a neighbor and let us not complicate things by arguing about the specifics. You know what it means to do love because some time or another you have been on the receiving end of it, but remember that knowing the right answers does not change a thing. If you want the world to look different next time you go outside, do some love. Do a little or do a lot, but do some, and do not forget to get some for yourself. Let the summer showers of God’s love soak the seeds of your right answers so that they blossom into right action and watch the landscape begin to change. Just do it, and find out that when you do, you do live, and live abundantly, just like the man said.”
Barbara Brown Taylor. The Preaching Life.
Alas, Children of God….this ain’t easy work. It’s summer work, but it ain’t easy work.
The additional poke of this story is that the Samaritan did such an inconvenient, inefficient, costly, interrupting work for the good of his historically-detested enemy.
He went to the other side of the road when he didn’t have to.
(We sometimes cross to the other side to avoid people!)
He died to his own dayplanner…and threw away any chance of getting to his next appointment on time.
(We are ruled by our daily plans…and get upset when the stop light lasts too long!)
He put the half-dead man on his horse and chose to walk alongside…sweating and toiling each step of the way.
(We get mad when someone sits in our car & drips coffee on our car seats!)
He spent 2 days wage on making sure the hotel bill was covered, and kept his credit card on the tab in case there were extra’s that needed to get paid for later.
(We struggle to drop a loonie or two in the guitar case of our local street busker).
Lord, Jesus…help us to believe in your promises…that when we show mercy to the least and the lost, we have done it unto you.
And teach us to pray…
(prayer attributed to St. Patrick, 400 CE)
I arise, I arise today: in the Spirit of the Trinity.
Christ be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.