15 November 2009

Sermon for 15 Nov 2009

(Text: Parable of the Good Samaritan)

"Who is my neighbor?"
He says this "wishing to justify himself."
To love God was one thing.
There's only one God, and
he gives all that we have.
But to love the neighbor!
There's too many of them, and,
often they're annoying or inconvenient.
If only the field could be narrowed,
the task might be fulfilled.

So the Lord tells a story.
It's the story of a nameless man,
of a priest, a Levite,and a Samaritan;
but it's also our story.

"A man was going down" from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Jerusalem was God's city;
Jericho a city of sin,
the great city whose walls fell down at Joshua's trumpet.
That is the story of our race:
We left God behind in the Garden,
and have journeyed away, going down, since then.

And what of the robbers that beat the man?
They are the demons, who delight in tormenting man,
and leaving him half-dead.
We are to blame for this, of course.
The man would not have been beaten if he stayed in Jerusalem.
The demons would not have tormented us if we hadn't first left God behind.
But we are wounded by the passions,half-dead:
living and breathing in this world,
but in agony when we remember what we've lost.

The priest and the Levite, too, journey down that same road.
Religious men, men of God,
but they pass by. They cannot help. They are afraid.

Then comes the Samaritan.
It doesn't say of him that he was on that same road,
but rather that he was on a journey.

He saw the man, just as the priest and Levite did.
But he felt compassion,
and came to him,
and bandaged his wounds with oil and wine.
He brought the man to an inn,
and gave the innkeeper money,
and told him to care for the man till his return.

The Samaritan is our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Despised, like a Samaritan, by those he came to save.
Being God, he became man,
and journeyed down this road our race had taken.
He saw us in our plight and was moved with compassion.
He wrapped us in bandages when we were baptized,
covering us with his own righteousness.
He poured out the oil of compassion on us in chrismation,
and gives us the wine of his blood.
He brought us to this inn, his church,
where he heals us through his mysteries.

And what is the sign that this healing is ours?
How do we know we've been living in the hospital?

Only this:
That we stop trying to justify ourselves,
and leave that to the Master.
That we cease walking to Jericho
and learn to see our life as a journey--his journey,
That we serve the ones we find along the way,
and serve them in their wretchedness,
and help them to the inn where we too find healing.

"Who is my neighbor?"
God is my neighbor, who proved himself to be my neighbor
by helping and healing me in my distress.
That God calls us to "go and do likewise"--
to copy him as beloved children copy their father.

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see my neighbor;
do not let fear turn me away,
but let me serve him,
and so come to see, from the inside,
a fragment, a tiny share, of the love you have shown to me.