Summary: The third sermon of a post-Easter series on Love
(Slide 1) Impatience…
What comes to mind when you read that word? Or you hear it? Or you see it in action? Or personally experience it?
The late W.H. Auden wrote, “Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.”
I recently read the story of an American League umpire having to deal with a catcher that argued just about all of his calls for several innings during a game. Finally, his patience ran out and he said to the catcher, “Son, you’ve been a big help to me in calling balls and strikes today, and I appreciate it. But I think that I have got the hang of it now, so I’m going to ask you to go to the clubhouse and show whoever’s there how to take a shower.”
Restaurants are one of the places that can really push our impatience button. And this impatience is not limited to adults. Children, too, can find their patience running thin when they are hungry.
A little boy had ordered the catch of the day and waited with increasing sadness and impatience for his meal.
Finally, the server returned with the news that his catch of the day would soon be ready. Excited at the news he asked, ‘Tell me, what kind of bait are you using?’
Impatience is often defined as annoyance and, interestingly enough, as eagerness. Why?
Perhaps in the perspective of the person or interested party; perhaps due to the situation at hand. Most likely, having to do with one’s attitude.
As we continue our post-Easter series on Love and as we prepare for Communion I think that we need to understand the centrality of patience in love as we seek to love as Jesus loved.
Our main text is a familiar and oft repeated gospel parable that appears in Luke 10 and beginning with verse 30.
“A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
And I would add, ‘the one who showed him patience.’
Now, a couple of observations about this passage before we think about the patience of the Samaritan.
First, it is easy to criticize the priest and the temple assistant for not stopping to care. But, how many of us stop to care for a stranded motorist these days?
A few weeks ago, I noticed someone I knew had stopped to see if one of the neighborhood kids, who was headed home crying, was okay. After I met him in the alleyway next to our house, I told him that that it was probably one of those hurt feeling moments.
How many of us would do that today? What would people think if we did that?
In their defense, the priest and assistant could have been legitimately concerned for their safety because the hurt man could have been part of a plot to rob them. So, we understand all of the issues and excuses for not getting involved at certain times.
Second, there was a prohibition on touching what could have been a dead man. Such a touch would have kept them out of their service for a period because they would have been “defiled, unclean, and unacceptable.” But Jesus would throw all of that prohibition out with His death and resurrection. A new way of getting right with God that did not require ceremony and rule keeping was coming to pass.
It was not what mattered to God anymore. The attitude of caring; of patience mattered. It was about the attitude and disposition of one’s heart toward God and others. This was Jesus’ point that He made in conjunction with a question posed to Him about the greatest commandment that was about love.