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Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.


Today’s gospel lesson is probably one of the most famous parables of Jesus and one that I know we’ve heard many, many times over, and what I’d like to do today, I think so often when we talk about the parable of the Good Samaritan, we like to spend a lot of time thinking about who the Samaritans are in our current context, right?

Who are the people who we don’t see as our neighbor because of their difference from us?

Who do we think is unworthy of our love and our care, and who do we think that we can walk past, right?

I think that’s usually where we go when we read this passage, and all of those things are true.

Jesus was calling out in his day the people that the Sadducees and the Pharisees thought were unworthy of their love because they didn’t worship in God’s holy temple, and they had intermarried, and they weren’t fully keeping Torah even though they were cousins of the faithful Jews of Jerusalem, and that was right to call out.

In the same way, we are right to use this passage to point out times when we have treated people of other races, whether that be Black people during slavery in the Civil Rights era, or whether that be Japanese people during World War II when we put them in internment camps, or etc., etc., etc., if a list goes on and on and on about people who at various times and places and for various reasons we have decided to treat not as our neighbor against our Lord’s call to love the alien, to love the oppressed, and to love our enemies, and to love everyone, and invite everyone into hospitality into the full life of his holy church.

But today, I want to go a little bit different direction.

It’s easy to think about the Samaritan because that’s somebody else.

It’s easy to judge those people who walked on by and to think about those, but I would say it’s important that we put ourselves in the story, not as the man who was hurt, not as the man who eventually gave him aid, the Samaritan, but instead that we place ourselves in the shoes of those who walked right past.

Because I think so often, though we think of ourselves as righteous, we think of ourselves as good Christians, the reality is more often than not, we are the ones who walk past.

We don’t walk past for some of the old tried and true reasons people like to use this passage for, but I think we walk past because we find more important things to do.

When I read this parable, it isn’t just that everyone who was walking past didn’t want to help the guy because he was potentially unclean.

No, but they all had things to do.

They were on their way to work.

They were on their way to serve in the temple.

They were on their way to buy groceries or do this or to do that.

And they had their focus and their goals for the day and they couldn’t allow something, something placed before them by God to get in the way.

And so often we are that person.

You know, we can’t come on Saturday morning because we’ve got a soccer game or, well, I can’t come Wednesday night because I got to do this thing with my friends or I can’t come Friday night because, well, there’s this game on TV or I can’t come, you see, because this is the last night they’re serving this particular dish at the restaurant and so on and so on and so forth and so forth.

And we justify these things.

You know, it’s good to spend time with friends and family.

It’s good to enjoy and celebrate God’s creation.

It’s good to be loyal on a team, you know, whether that’s a sports team or another kind of team.

And it’s great to fellowship and it’s a great witness to fellowship to others.

But I think we’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re not walking by.

God has given us tried and true and ordained places to experience his love, to experience his grace and to experience the other, the other who we must love because they will become our enemy because it’s only in the most intimate of spaces that one can create an enemy.

An enemy is not someone who’s abstract and far away or some great evil villain far away on a mountain.

An enemy is specifically an enemy because you know them and they deeply know you and they get under your skin and you are with them day and day and day and day out and you must forgive them over and over and over again.

And it is my idea that the place we find enemies is in the church, which is why God calls us to love our enemy, calls us to forgive our enemy because in our enemies that we find in the body of Christ, we will discover a brother who is there to sharpen us as iron sharpens iron.

So I would admonish all of us that instead of finding reasons to walk on by, that just as we have done here tonight, we prioritize the gathering of God’s people.

We go where God’s people are.

We don’t make excuses.

We don’t pass by.

We stand present and ever ready to serve the unwanted, to serve the injured, to serve our enemy because in that and in those places where two or three are gathered, he will be there also.

His spirit will cleanse and renew us.

We will be sharpened.

We will learn a deeper love, a deeper forgiveness.

And through all of that, a joy that surpasses all understanding.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable Grant we beseech thee that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord.