Searching for....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

08252013 13th Sunday After Trinity

Gospel Reading Sermon MP3

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, the parable of the Good Samaritan was meant to reveal us for who we are, but also to inspire us to become more like You.  Peel the layer of our discontent with ourselves to reveal how You can change us today through not only our hearing Your Word, but fulfilling Your promise of salvation for all mankind, including all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

It is not uncommon for anyone who drives to enter the on ramp for the interstate and encounter a hitchhiker.  Years ago the practice was common to stop and offer a ride and take the person at least to the next interchange or town.  Today this practice has been replaced by fear of who it is on the side of the road, if they are a convicted felon, a deranged individual or someone that is running from the law.  Ironically even here in Goodland, KS at the parsonage and church we have individuals who knock on our door asking for money, help and even a ticket to get to a faraway place like Washington State, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts or Arizona.  Some of the individuals and families desperately need our help, others are going from town to town, working the system.  What is ironic, but different is in our Gospel this morning Jesus tells a parable about a wounded man that needs help and how three strangers respond.

I won’t retell the parable but want to ask and answer one question that the lawyer asked.  “Who is my neighbor?”  This question is the whole reason for the parable.  It is to make us realize that according to Jesus Christ our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door, sits in the next pew or that we encounter walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart.  Our neighbor is everyone that we meet daily without exception.

Jesus is clarifying for us who we need to be concerned with, not only with our actions, but even our inactions.  The parable has three main action characters, the priest, the Levite and the Good Samaritan.  They show what they believe and do by their action.  The priest and Levite move to the other side of the road.  They choose to not be troubled to help a man who has been beaten to within an inch of his life.  The Good Samaritan, who by nature and in the culture of that day is not known for doing something for others gets off of his donkey, binds up the mans wounds, places him on his beast of burden and takes him to the local inn and cares for him, pays for his care and promises to pay whatever is required when he returns.

Jesus is speaking to us today that we need to care for one another and step out in faith and be involved in peoples lives.  We need to enter into relationship with even the people we are not comfortable with and those that we necessarily do not agree with whether in politics, religion, lifestyle or beliefs and enter into meaningful and lasting relationship with them.  Jesus words, ‘Go and do the same’ call us to action like the Good Samaritan, not apathy like the priest and Levite.  We are called to be involved because Jesus is involved with each of us today.

Jesus involvement with each of us today is not only the promise of salvation that He offers to us today in His Word.  Jesus came down from heaven, lived among us and taught the hard parables like the Good Samaritan, not to beat us up or for us to feel like it is aimed directly at us.  Jesus teaches these parables in order for us to be His hands and His Good Samaritan for others today.  This is not directed at us to bind our conscience at the preacher or proclaimer, but to hear what God is calling us to do and offering us the opportunity to do today in order to glorify Him.

For in our glorifying God, we not only become more like Jesus Christ, we enter into a deeper relationship with Him, but also with those that we serve and minister to and with.  When we break our bonds of small groups, clicks and our own little social groups, God enters into our relationships and reforms and reshapes us to be His instrument of change, not of apathy or passive aggressive anger or resentment.  We no longer work or live as the Levite or the priest, but are transformed by Jesus Christ into the Good Samaritan willing to cross the road, street, tracks, enter into an uncomfortable place or relationship without fear, because of trusting God where we will spend eternity.

When we become eternity focused and not earthly focused, our reality is radically changed and we can and will make a difference in ourselves as well as with the people that we encounter.  Then we follow Jesus imperative of “Go and do the same” not because we have to, but because of the grace that He offers us through His death on the Cross for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning. 

Recently I read an article that convicted me of my ‘blind spots’ where I have not wanted to ‘cross the road’ or enter deeper into relationship.  Alex Early penned an article entitled, “A Pastor Walked into a Gay Bar And…”  At first I avoided the article because I thought this article was more a joke than anything, but upon reading the article it epitomized the Good Samaritan story.  While in school expecting to get a job in a few years as a college professor, Alex took a job in a local bar sweeping floor, stocking the beer and generally doing what one has to do to survive with a wife and family.  Prior to taking the position he prayed about this occupation and what God could do through him.  Through his own and his wifes discernment they felt this was where God was calling him to work.

The bar he began to work in wasn’t a classy joint in town.  It was known as a ‘gay bar’.  Alex didn’t take the job to ‘convert’ everyone he met, God had given him a different mission.  It was to be a ‘a friend of drunkards and sinners’.  This realization only came through his reading, studying and believing the scriptures of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ultimately Alex’s interactions with the patrons opened up many opportunities to share the gospel in the most unconventional way.  It wasn’t to ‘beat them over the head with the Gospel’ or to judge them for their lifestyle, attitudes or how they led their lives.  Alex knew who the real judge was, God the Father, Alex’s role also was not to portray himself as the ‘perfect follower’, but as someone who was approachable and willing to walk broken, but also call them his friends.  This non-judgmental and open approach allowed the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to not only be shared, but lived out in a gay bar that shared the true message of salvation for all mankind.  It showed how he could cross the road and minister to a complete stranger like the Good Samaritan and bind up wounds of bitterness and hatred that had previously been levied at Christians and now bring new meaning and understanding to what true relationship could be when following Jesus Christ Gospel call in his life.

We to have been called to this opportunity and now just as the Good Samaritan and Alex, live the Gospel and be God’s ministers and friends even to the broken and down trodden around us.  For this is what God sent His Son into the world to not only live and portray, but offer grace freely as an example for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script