Sermon – July 10, 2016 – The Rev Nancy Wittig

Pentecost 8 Proper 10
Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Col. 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

Who is Your Neighbor? Is it the one whom you like? Or is it the one you fear? This week’s bloodshed in our nation
invites us to take seriously this question of Who is our neighbor
We humans are prone to make excuses for ourselves and
for others. “She did not mean to do it or he had little
guidance growing up. Boys will be boys or her attire was
provocative.” Some excuses are from ignorance and
others are intentionally hurtful or prejudicial.

WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR? WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR?

Can we tell Jesus’ answer to the lawyer in a more contemporary way?
“‘A pensioner was traveling the road minding her own
business. When she was attacked by robbers and left a
bloody mess.’
Along came a congressman in a hurry to his important
meeting. A good Christian man.
Next came a medical doctor who passed by because he
was afraid he would be sued.
Then came a Bible thumping member of the clergy who crossed over
to the other side to bypass the old woman.’
Finally, along came a teacher of the Koran who on
seeing the wounded pensioner stopped to help her. He
bound up her wounds, and took her to a nearby Holiday
Inn. He asked the desk clerk to make sure the pensioner
was taken care of and promised to return on his way back
to make good on any indebtedness on her behalf.'”

Is the story so familiar because we have found ourselves
to be a part of the story? Were you and I the person in too
much of a hurry with our over scheduled day? Were you
and I afraid that common kindness would be misconstrued
and cause us more of a problem? Did we think of the old
pensioner as more trouble than we cared to be involved with?
Or were you and I the pensioner wallowing in victim hood?

It has been said that, “familiarity” breeds contempt but
perhaps it is not contempt as much as “it soothes us into
thinking we know what the story means”.
Kindness does not seem to be a worldly attribute. We live
in a world driven by competition, greed, individualism,
meanness of spirit, violence and religious exclusivity.

Certainly this was also the world Jesus lived in. It does not
seem to have changed very much since Jesus walked this earth.
It is amazing how we attempt to vilify the other while
believing ourselves somehow exempt. Laws often are
used this way as is religion. It is said,”Kurt Vonnegut
grasped the essence of Christianity*(A Man Without a
Country)/ Douglas J.Hall) as he was asked by a young
man from Pittsburgh,
“Please tell me it will be okay?”. “Welcome to Earth, young
man, Vonnegut said. “It’s hot in the summer and cold in
the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside,
you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one
rule that I know of: ….damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

What was it that that moved the Samaritan to not only take notice but to interrupt his journey?
Was it not that gut wrenching physical emotion that Jesus
often experiences that compelled the Samaritan to action?
Jesus then turns to the lawyer and asks the “$64,000”
dollar question. “Which of these, do you think, was a
neighbor to the person who fell into the hands of the
robbers? ” ‘ The one who showed mercy.”‘ Said the
lawyer.
“Whereupon Jesus said, ‘ Go and do likewise.”‘

“How can you and I be good neighbor’s?” is the question
Jesus leaves with us to contemplate and to act upon.

St. Paul in the letter to the Colossians says it simply,
“The gospel that has come to you… is bearing fruit and
growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit
among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly
comprehended the grace of God.” Change the word order
and the intent by a few words.

The Gospel that has come to you… Is it bearing fruit? Is it
growing the whole world, has it been bearing fruit
among yourselves from the day you heard it?

The Good News of Jesus is that right belief has little to do
with right theology and everything to do with caring about
and for those whom we may meet on life’s journey,
whether we dislike, or are afraid of the other. The Good
News of Jesus is about kindness in action, and is lived in
our daily lives.

Now kindness is not a sweetener we put on superficially.
Kindness may call forth some sacrifice on our part,
because kindness and sacrifice are bold and demanding
ways of life. Kindness and mercy demand that we may be
wrong in finger pointing. Kindness and mercy demand we
invite and allow others’ kindness and mercy to envelop us.
Kindness and mercy require we care for the refugee as
well as the old neighbor next door. Kindness and mercy
will lead us to understand why Black Lives Matter.
Kindness and mercy demand we see our racism as the
elephant in the room’. Police Lives also Matter! Kindness
and mercy require all of us take Hate and indifference out
of the equation and in its place to put Christ like love.

Sacrifice is something that love often leads us to do for
another. God’s love for you and for me requires we share
that love without fear.

A wonderful little story from Facebook.
One morning a little boy announced to his mother that today he was going to meet God. He packed up his wagon
with supplies of root beer and twinkies for the journey.
He set off on his adventure. A little ways down the road he saw an old woman seated on a bench and as he was tired and hot he sat on the bench next to the old woman. Since he was hungry he asked the women if she was hungry. He
shared his root beer and twinkies with the woman. They began talking about many things and before long the day
passed and the little boy realized it was time to head home.
When his mother asked him about his day, his reply was
that he had had a great day and that he met God.
When the old woman returned to her home her son asked
her about her day. She also had had a good day as she
had met God while sitting on a bench and they had shared
many things as well as a meal together.

Sometimes kindness and mercy happen to us, and we
meet God in the most surprising places.

May it be so ! Amen

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