Summary: It’s a scary time and a deadly time for many. If anyone can show us the way to be good neighbors …it’s Jesus!
What Are We Going to Do About Our Neighborhood?
Watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood is a pleasant childhood memory. There were real life characters like Mr. McFeely the delivery man, Lady Aberlin, Chef Brockett. But it was the puppets I loved the best … like King Friday XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, and many more including the Neighborhood Trolley. The gentle sweater-wearing host calmly talked through issues serious to children and did so in a positive way. Fred Rogers was trained to be a Presbyterian minister. He earned over 40 honorary degrees. Rogers died in 2003…but one of his quotes that lives on:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Unfortunately our neighborhood doesn’t look very much like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, especially this past week. In today’s text Jesus asks a very pertinent question for today: Who is Your Neighbor? Today more energy is poured into the question “Who Is NOT My Neighbor?” What Are We Going to Do About Our Neighborhood? It’s a scary time … and a deadly time for many. If anyone can show us the way…it’s not Mr. Rogers … but Jesus!
1. COLD: IGNORE THE HURTING
A. Priest and Levite avoid the beaten man - a fellow Jew. Maybe they didn’t want to be ceremonially unclean. Maybe they thought he was dead. Maybe they had someplace they had to be. Maybe they knew this was extremely dangerous road: to stop and help him would put themselves in danger. They had developed the art of ‘Looking Away’.
B. The Dangers of ‘Looking Away’ include…
-Passing up the opportunity to love someone as myself!
-Restraining compassion that should be expressed.
-Allows the other person to suffer without relief.
-Pretends that all is well, when we have hurting brothers and sisters.
-Counts the cost of reaching out to help, and decides it costs too much.
1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
James 2:15-17 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Jesus is obviously unimpressed with the Priest and Levite - the ones who look away
2. COMPASSIONATE: LOVE THE HURTING
A. The Samaritan is not called “good”! Nobody in Jesus’ entourage would call him that! We label him as ‘good’ because of his actions. When Jesus said a Samaritan was coming along it was the natural inclination to think that he was a crummy person no one would want to be around.
B. What do we notice about this Samaritan’s Mercy?
-He Placed Himself in Danger, stopping in a dangerous neighborhood known for robbers. In the fifth century Jerome tells us that it was still called “The Bloody Way” (Barclay)
- He Helped someone who wouldn’t have helped him.
- He went above and beyond.
-He answered the question Who Is My Neighbor?
It is a question that relates to the way we treat “the other,” whether a homeless person who has not had a bath in months or someone of a different social class. … Is there any category of person who is not neighbor to another? … Mercy does not ask first about color or sexual identity or economic status or political party. mercy is not concerned with deserving or purity or piety. Mercy is what comes from God to the community and to each of us…. Who is your neighbor? The person you see in need of human compassion. - Mary Miller Brueggemann
1. Today we have the choice to be the cold neighbor or the compassionate neighbor.
2. Keisha Thomas Story http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24653643
3. The lawyer that asks the question is not a legal advocate like modern lawyers, but an expert in the law of Moses. Who is my neighbor?
Barclay: Any man of any nation who is in need is our neighbor. Our help must be as wide as the love of God. … Compassion, to be real compassion, must issue in
Even forced to admit the Samaritan was the neighbor, he could not bring himself to utter that word, so he just said ‘the one who had mercy’.
Jesus sent him on his way: Go and do likewise. And so Jesus sends us on our way today: Go and do likewise.
Sermon Leftovers: Good thoughts I didn’t have time to share.