July 14, 2019

Jesus worked with people marginalized by communities and society.  Jesus worked with people who were marginalized and excluded by the religious community. 

Jesus was himself marginalized by many communities.  He experienced being placed on the edge if not outside. Even by his own hometown.  Even by his own home ‘church’. 

He existed ‘between’.  Sociologist call such ‘between’ space liminality. The space between first and second base when you are running. Both vulnerable and hopeful.

The ‘law’ of interstice declares that some potentials are realized only in the in-between spaces.

This week’s appointed gospel lesson illustrates the point.  Two weeks ago we read the end of Luke 9: going through Samaria,  Jesus is rejected by people because he had set his face to go to Jerusalem.  They didn’t know or understand he was going to Jerusalem to die – for them, among others.  They knew he thought Jerusalem was important, perhaps more important than towns in their country, perhaps more important than their country’s cultic centers.  That is akin to someone saying they won’t perform in Philly because NYC is the big time and that is where they are going.  The Philly fans are hurt and angry.

The Samaritan were offended because they thought Jesus was big-timing them.  They felt belittled, like marginalized outcasts.  

The disciples are offended by the Samaritans taking offense at Jesus.  Like some scene from Game of Thrones, they want to call down fire from heaven upon the offensive offenders.  Jesus puts a stop to the disciples thoughts – and actions. 

In the very next chapter of Luke Jesus is approached by a lawyer who tests Jesus’ orthodoxy.  The lawyer asks a very self-centered, self-focused, self-absorbed question and he asks it badly or at least in a way that does not understand the Jesus way.  Today his question might be equivalent to: “how can I save myself?” or “what must I do to get myself saved?”

Jesus asks: “what system you are operating under?  What are the guidelines?”  The lawyer replies his commanded direction is to love God and to love neighbor.  That’ll serve well, says Jesus.  But the lawyer wants to limit his liability and insure his own outcome.  So he asks who his neighbor is--i.e., how far does his responsibility extend?

In response Jesus tells the story we know as the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Good?  And Samaritan?  In the same story after what Jesus and the disciples had just come through?  What?  The very people who had marginalized and rejected this Jesus are the very people Jesus makes into the hero of the parable. This must have doubly stung the disciples ears.  They wanted to call down a fire-breathing dragon on such people; now Jesus lifts them up.  What?

The call of any faith community is to be good neighbors.  Are our neighbors just the people next door? The people who look like us?  The people in a similar class as us?  Jesus challenges not only the seeker but also those following him to see larger and to show mercy regardless.  To our student neighbors.  To our merchant neighbors.  To our Jewish neighbors.  To our Muslim neighbors.  To our LGBTQ+ neighbors.  To our Asian neighbors.  To our homeless neighbors.  To our military service neighbors.  To our . . . . . . . . .

The point of this Christian faith, the way of Jesus, is not focused on saving oneself, but rather in showing God’s mercy to the world of neighbors – even those who reject Jesus. 

This will be Pastor Bair’s last service as pastor of St. Luke, where he has served since May 1988.  PB’s retirement begins Monday, July 15.  After the 9:30 am service, a reception will be held to say good-bye’s.

O Lord God, your mercy delights us, and the world longs for your loving care. Hear the cries of everyone in need, and turn our hearts to love our neighbors with the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.
Deuteronomy 30:9-14
            Psalm 25:1-10
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37
SERMON:  “Being Neighborly”
WORD OF THE WEEK – from Luke 10
36"Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."


FIRST LESSON from Deuteronomy 30:9-14
The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10when you obey the LORD your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

            11Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" 14No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

SECOND LESSON from Colossians 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
            2To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
            Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
            3In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 7This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
            9For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 10:25-37
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27He 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." 28And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
            29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30Jesus 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. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He 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. 35The 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.'
            36"Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."