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A Reflection for KidZone Celebration

 “….. With all my what??!! How??!!”

Luke 10:25-37

©2013 Rev. Elisabeth R. Jones

It’s such a great story isn’t it?!! 
We’ve all learned to take note of the fact
that the one who is neighbourly
is the least expected.

Those of us who are clergy have all been asked by this text
to examine ourselves to see if our
leadership of religion is too much like
the priest and Levite of the story,
too preoccupied, busy, self-important, 
to really notice and respond whole-heartedly to the bashed up neighbour.

As communities of faith, know we need to ensure that we are prepared to stop by the side of the road
to help any unfortunate one who falls among robbers, 
or falls on hard times…
All of this is good reflection and worthy of our life-long attempt to make
it real in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.

But I just love the liveliness of Scripture, and how a new situation reveals new secrets in the text.
Because I was preparing a dramatic version, while also listening to one of the songs we’ll sing later in the service, that something new poked out of the text.
It’s not just about “who” is the neighbour,
it’s about “how” we are a neighbour!

When Jesus told this story,
it was as a midrash
a piece of holy imagination provoked by the lawyer’s question:
“What do I need to do to have life eternal 
(a full, rich, blessed life in God)?”
The stock answer to the question was  Judaism’s great prayer, the Shema.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Both Jesus and the lawyer knew that,
but something provoked Jesus to ask
a  holy “Hmmm?”

 Which went something like this:
“Okay, loving God with all heart, soul, strength…. is all good….
but How?
What does it look like in real, human life?”

So he tells a midrash,
a story, that gets to the how as well
as the who and the what.

Loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength looks like
neighbours
– unlikely neighbours
– surprising neighbours –
taking care of one another.
That’s the who/what.
But look what he goes with the “how?”

Look at her!
That Samaritan girl/guy didn’t just
stop for a second to help out.
She went over, above, beyond….
she touched, cleaned,
picked up,
carried the mugged fellow to a place of safety,
she housed him, paid for his care,
left extras  for “just in case.”

I’d say she showed love with all her heart,
all her soul, all her strength, wouldn’t you?

Wow!
Loving God with all one’s soul, heart, mind and strength isn’t just about praying a lot!
Or going to seminary for two decades, or having a ‘Rev” in front of your name!
It’s about being real, down home,
neighbour and stranger loving!
It’s about thinking, feeling, acting and doing
neighbourly things for one another,
and for people we wouldn’t normally notice too!

If I am going to be loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength,
it’s going to mean things like F4, Morning Connections, Coffee House, VfH.
It’s going to mean things like spending real time with these children in this congregation,
and their families,
It’s going to mean spending time with the men’s bridge group and the Zumba class,
looking at photo albums with Seniors, and getting to know their children and grandchildren.

It’s going to look like long-timers
scooching up their pew
to make room for the new family,
or the seekers who come for a week or two,so that this place is really,
genuinely a safeway-station on their journey from Jerusalem to Jericho.
It means hearing the lady in the hospital, who having heard me (or you!) praying with a parishioner, calls out “can you pray with me too?”
It’s going to mean  you kids playing with the kid who gets left out in the playground.  It’s going to mean learning to say “Nihao” or “Ola” to the immigrant neighbour…..

Because all these neighbours are in reality, the face of God in flesh and bone, for me and you to love, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!

You want to know how God can bless you now, and always with a rich, full, complete and blessed life?  Jesus says, “Here’s how” you get to love a neighbour…. the people beside you in the pew, and people you’ve yet to meet, while you’re going about your day to day. Do that, says Jesus, and you get to love God.

Look around, then….
what gifts we are to one another! 
If you don’t know the people sitting near you, can’t remember their names….
that’s okay….
then why not take a moment,
and greet the people around you? 
Because you’re looking at the face of God!

Amen.

 

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