|Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 21, 2016||Proper 16, Year C||Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17|
|Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 7, 2016||Proper 14, Year C||Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Proper 14, Year C|
|Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 31, 2016||Proper 13, Year C||Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23; Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21|
|Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 24, 2016||Proper 12, Year C||Luke 11:1-13|
|➤Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 10, 2016||Proper 10, Year C||Luke 10:25-37|
|Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 3, 2016||Proper 9, Year C||Luke 10:1-11, 16-20; Galatians 6:7-16|
|Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||June 26, 2016||Proper 8, Year C||Luke 9:51-62, Galatians 5:1,13-25, Psalm 16, 1 Kings 19:15-16,19-21|
|Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||June 19, 2016||Proper 7, Year C||Luke 8:26-39: Luke 24:13-35|
|Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||June 12, 2016||Proper 6, Year C||2 Samuel 11;26-12:10-13-15, Luke 7:36-8:3|
|Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||June 5, 2016||Proper 5, Year C||Luke 7: 11-17|
|Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||May 29, 2016||Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||Luke 7:1-10|
|Trinity Sunday, Pentecost 1, Year C||May 22, 2016||Trinity Sunday, Year C||John 16:12-15, Psalm 8|
|Day of Pentecost! Year C||May 15, 2016||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 5, Year C||April 24, 2016||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Acts 11:1-18, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35, Psalm 148|
|Easter 4, Year C||April 17, 2016||Easter 4, Year C||Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30|
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Sermon Date:July 10, 2016
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 10, Year C
"The Good Samaritan"- Vincent Van Gogh (1890)
Imagine traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Leaving the safety of the hilltop holy city of Jerusalem, we head down a road built on flaky and constantly eroding limestone. We follow its twists and turns as it makes a steep rocky descent through the wilderness– a barren, dry, boulder littered landscape.
Numerous Roman sentry posts along the way indicate that this strategic road is dangerous.
And we’ve heard, before starting the journey, that violent ambushes are common, and that bandits, having robbed travelers like us, are able to escape and hide in the rocky wilderness with very little fear of actually being caught and brought to justice.
After about thirteen miles of a treacherous descent down this road, and about five miles from our destination, Jericho, an oasis city in the middle of a desert that is actually below sea level, we come to a pass carved through rock that the early church father Jerome called the Ascent of the Red, not only because of the color of the rock that lines this pass, but also because of the number of attacks and the amount of blood that gets spilled here during various violent attacks on travelers.
Jerome also explains that there is an inn near this pass where travelers can seek help. And sure enough, just after getting safely through the pass, we find this inn and stop for the night there, not wanting to continue, for now, a journey that will become even more dangerous after nightfall.
The innkeeper welcomes us in.
A little later we see a Samaritan who is also staying at the inn and we find out through various whispered conversations that this outsider and despised person, not one of us, had checked in earlier that day with a man who had been robbed and badly wounded along the road, a man who had been left for dead by both a priest and a Levite who had passed him by on the other side.
“But we mustn’t blame them,” we’re told. “Priests and Levites can’t do their work in the temple in an unclean state, and touching a dead man would have made them unclean. They have their work to tend to—so no wonder they chose to pass this man by. Anyway, the whole scene could have been staged by bandits who would have robbed anyone who stopped to help a seemingly wounded person.”
The next morning as we prepare to leave the inn and finish the trip to Jericho, we overhear the Samaritan talking with the innkeeper. “Here, innkeeper, are two denarii, the equivalent of two days’ wages. Take care of the wounded man and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend on this man’s care.”
Much to our surprise, the innkeeper takes the money and agrees to this arrangement, promising to care for the wounded man until this Samaritan returns, even though the innkeeper has no guarantee that the Samaritan really will return. And if the Samaritan doesn’t return, what will the innkeeper do with this badly injured person, left behind in the inn?
Jesus told stories that continue to have profound implications for every person in every age. This story, falling as it does in the lectionary, provides a lot of context for the events of the past week in this country. We Americans seem to be on a perpetual journey between Jerusalem and Jericho these days, travelling down a long road of racial division and mistrust known to be dangerous, violent and life threatening.
In fact, this past week has left the road we are on strewn with the dead and the injured. Black men killed by police, police gunned down by a black sniper, violence and bodies strewn through the news like bloody talismans reminding us of the deep racial divisions in our country that have existed throughout our history and that still have yet to be healed. We as a nation face the threat of terrorism from the outside, and yet here we are in our own country killing each other, killings motivated most of all by the color of a person’s skin.
What about those of us gathered here today?
My guess is that all of us have been Good Samaritans at one point or another in our lives, and that we also have experienced the awful loneliness and helplessness like that of the person beaten and stripped and left for dead by the side of the road, hoping against hope that someone will come to the rescue. Many of us have experienced the bracing, life giving help of someone we least expected to help us when we need that help the most.
But what would we do if we were the innkeepers in this story?
I think this is the role in which we frequently find ourselves right now, and in many ways, the role of the innkeeper is the most challenging role in this story.
What do we do when a Good Samaritan shows up at the door with a badly injured person that he then leaves in our care? We have the resources to care for that person for a short time, but we have no guarantees that the Good Samaritan will actually come back, and we might get stuck with the responsibility of caring for that badly wounded person for a long, long time to come.
The racial divide in this country is an example of what I mean. This bad wound, this distrust and hatred among us, based on skin color, goes back for generations. This wound refuses to heal, and the Good Samaritan seems to be nowhere in sight. We’re the ones left to provide the care needed for this wound to heal and we don’t know what to do to help it heal.
The temptation is, after we’re pretty sure that the Good Samaritan isn’t coming back, to tell ourselves that we’ve done all that we can do, and now it’s time to send this problem packing. So we patch up the wound as best we can and send the injured person back out onto the dangerous road, hoping that he or she will somehow get to a place of safety and that someone down the road can come up with a real solution to that person’s needs.
After all, we have an inn to run and other responsibilities that need attention.
But hold on for a minute!
Interpreters of this scripture all the way back to the early church fathers have thought of the Good Samaritan as Jesus himself.
So if we think of the Good Samaritan as Jesus, our role as innkeepers takes on a whole new dimension.
Jesus has entrusted us with the care of those on whom Jesus has already had mercy. Jesus himself brings people in need of healing to this inn, because he believes in us and trusts us to provide our ongoing care and healing until Jesus returns. Jesus has faith in us! Jesus knows that we have been made strong with all of the strength that comes from God’s glorious power, made available to us through the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus has already paid us more than extravagantly, with his own blood and with his own life. Jesus was stripped, beaten, and robbed of his dignity as a human being and subjected to the shame of death on a cross. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God pays us lavishly with the gift of freedom to be people of mercy and compassion, and people of hope, knowing that God is truly very near to us, and God’s love is in our hearts for us to pour out as healing ointment to heal the wounds that Jesus brings to the doorsteps of God’s inn, the church.
Due to God’s timing, this very week you can come to the lunch here at the church on Wednesday at 1:30PM in the parish house. Sit down with a person whose skin color is different than yours over a meal and spend some time in conversation with that person. Learn about that person’s life and struggles. Listen with compassion.
Even if what we can do seems small and insignificant, and maybe even pointless, like continuing to clean and bandage wounds that will never heal, God will take even the small things we have to offer and use those things to grow love, healing and reconciliation in the world.
And so we innkeepers wait. Our job is to keep the doors of the inn open and welcome in the people that Jesus brings to us for care. Our job is to continue the healing work that Jesus has already begun. We can do this work faithfully and prayerfully, with patience and in hope as we wait—because we know the Good Samaritan, and we know that he will return.
Cousar, Gaventa, McCann and Newsome. Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV—Year C. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.