I have missed writing. I have lots of notes and ideas, but time is an issue lately. Today was such a good time at church, tho, to be among friends, to be refreshed, that I wanted to make it a priority to write today, to give it a chance to sink deep into my spiritual joints, not shaking it off too quickly.
Our text is simple. Even those who haven't been in church for years probably remember this story from their childhood. It is the story about the Samaritan and the man who he found on the roadside. Of course, the Samaritan is the good guy, right? But did they think he would be?
Who is the despised among us? At one time in this nation's history, it would have been those of a different color. Maybe it still is. It might have been someone whose language is foreign to us. It might be someone who is very liberal in their politics or the other end of the spectrum and very conservative. Perhaps it is the gay couple down the street. Maybe it is the homeless man looking for money that you always think will just be used for booze as you walk by him.
The lawyer who asked the question of Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" would have been put off, perhaps even downright offended, that a Samaritan would be better than a priest or church person. How could that vile person do good?
And I want to think, duh?! But in the end, I am just as prideful as the lawyer. I believe that I know how to do things, that I can get myself out of messes, that a person with a certain education can understand me, that a person with less needs my help, that I am better than...
While I am comfortable being the Samaritan, because I am prideful and of course I would be the hero of the story, who I truly am is the man-robbed, beaten, and left for dead. I was a mess. My sinful rebellion had taken me places that I should not have gone. My spirit was lifeless. I needed help, but the church did not do it. I was dying, but the good people did not see it. But Jesus saw me.
A man, despised by his own people, knew of the dangers of this road and heard about someone who was lying on the side of the road dying. He saw me and took pity on me. He went to me and bandaged my wounds, applying healing ointment to them. Then he carried me to a community that took care of me as I healed. He paid for my healing and he said he will return.
That is how I read the story anyway. I am not a good Samaritan. I am a mess. I was a mess. But Jesus couldn't leave me that way. Perhaps as I heal, and leave the safety of my community, maybe I will be a Samaritan for someone else. Perhaps I will be able to see compassionately, heal a need, pay for another's safety. God willing.