Present Day Neighbor

Luke 10: 25-37 (NRSV)

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.“Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”  He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”  But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Road to Jericho

Road to Jericho (Taken by Joshua King)

It was a typical early Sunday morning for my wife and I. We woke up at 6:45 and left the house by 7:30. We passed through Staunton on time which is right at 8:02 every Sunday Morning. I was beginning to think about the day ahead as I prepared myself for leading worship and praying for the congregations. As I was about to come up to an exit I know all to well (A place where I had an accident a year and half ago), I saw a white Lancer in the middle of the road pointing in the wrong direction with smoke coming up. It was a recent accident and when you see a car facing you on Interstate, you know that it can’t be a good thing. I look to my wife and I tell her I will be just a minute and I pull off to the side of the road.

I step out of my vehicle and I walk up to the car that had just gone for a spin. Other people passing by pulled over as they too came to check in on the car that had just wrecked. I approach the vehicle to find two college age students who were quite shooken up. I explained to them that my name was Joshua King and I was a former EMT. I asked if there was anyone injured and too my surprise there was no injuries. I again asked them if they would like me to call an ambulance of just a police officer. They responded that they would just like the police because they were not going to need medical attention. After calling it in to the State Police I got the two boys out of there car and asked them if they would mind moving over to the guardrail with me. I stayed with them and had mentioned that these kind of things happen (remembering that those words were comforting when I had wrecked just 100 yards from this accident). I called ahead to one of my parishioners and mentioned to them I may be a little late, but please go ahead and begin the service as I will be on my way shortly. About 5-10 minutes went by when the State Trooper came by. I gave the two boys my blessings and gave them my business card that I had just put in my wallet two days ago and told them if there was anything I can do, please give me a call and I left them in the hands of the Trooper.

I got back into my car and my wife and I were back on our way to our typical Sunday Morning worship service. About 2 miles down the road my cell phone begins to ring. I answer it, sure enough it was the two boys calling for a ride home about 1 hour away. I told them that I would be happy to, but I have responsibilities this morning with worship and I could come back to the truck stop they were near at around 1:00 PM after worship. They said that would be great. As I hung up with them, I immediately began to question whether I should stick to my Sunday Morning responsibilities as a pastor or if I should go and help them get home as quickly as I could. I began to wrestle with myself over this dilemma. I reminded myself that they said it would be ok to come back later today to get them. So I went ahead and led worship at each of my churches.

After worship was over I gave them a call to see if they were still in the area. They were and I went and picked them up. We began to drive down to there home. Conversation was a little short because they were exhausted from the mornings events. Almost to the city they claimed home I asked them what exit I need to be looking for. They said they just started at this new school this year and so they were not exactly sure the exit but they knew what it  looked like. I asked them if they knew the address to where we were going since I carried with me my GPS. Come to find out we are going an extra 45 minutes beyond the initial destination. I suppose one could say this is what it means to go the extra mile in our current society. Anyways I took them on down to their school and dropped them off. Once I dropped them off I made mention to them that it was a pleasure. I noticed though one of them was wearing a Red Sox hat. Joking with him I told i can’t believe I would do such a nice thing for a Red Sox fan being a Yankee fan myself.

Concluding Thoughts:

Jesus was a Jew and along with this status came a conflict between Jews and Samaritans. So for Jesus to call this Samaritan, who helped the Jew who was beaten down, good was a scandalous thing for Jesus to do. For me I had not real conflict with these two guys who I had found earlier that morning, well except of course they were Red Sox fans. Each and every day we come across people that are in need of some kind of help or need. Each and every person also needs God and we as the body of Christ are needed to show God’s love, a love that does not require repayment, to strangers, friends, and family. I want to note that often at times though we feel that we must do these things immediately. For instance I wanted to give up my responsibilities of leading worship to go and help these two boys out. As I have continued to reflect on this parable of Jesus’; I remember that the Samaritan did not stay with the man the entire time he was healing. The Samaritan rather took care of the immediate concerns and then came back to check in on him at the inn. So for my story I left the two boys with the Trooper (inn-keeper) until I could come back from my own responsibilities to continue the care. At the end of this parable, Jesus gives a command to this lawyer upon answering his question about who is his neighbor, and Jesus commands him to go and do likewise to his fellow neighbor. And so, I invite you with the Spirit of Christ to remember this teaching and as you go this week, to go and show this love to your neighbor, this love that we give without expectations of receiving anything in return.

Go in strength and empowerment of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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