Messy Church this month is May 11, Friday from 5:30 to 7:30. We will be having a BBQ. There will be hamburgs and hot dogs, potato chips and veggies. We will have yogurt fruit cups for dessert.
The theme for this month is the Good Samaritan.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
The concept of “The Good Samaritan” permeates our culture. To be referred to as a Good Samaritan is an honour paid to someone for a selfless act of compassion, sometimes with personnel risk. There is even a Good Samaritan law. Jesus told this story to a man, an expert in the law, who had asked the question, “Who is my neighbour?” Here is the story that Jesus told that day. A man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho when bandits attacked him, robbed and beat him and left in the dust of the road half dead. A priest travelling the same road, saw him and moved over to the other side of the road and kept going. A Levite came along later and did the same thing. A Samaritan came along and when he saw the man, he took pity on him. He went to him, treated and bandaged his wounds. He put the man on his donkey and went to an inn where he cared for him. The next day he took out money and gave it to the innkeeper to care for the man with the promise that he would repay the innkeeper for any extra expense when he returned.
It is a story about humanity at its best, and humanity at its worst. The care of the Samaritan, verses the brutality of the bandits and the indifference of the priest and Levite. If we look at the story within the context of the time of Jesus we will find there is a depth and richness to the story that makes this story even more powerful.
Last month we had the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus at the well. I talked about the enmity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans that stretched back all the way King Solomon. The people of Samaria had been enslaved and treated poorly by their cousins in the south from the tribe of Judah (from which Jew comes). There was so much animosity that the nation split in two. That animosity and contempt had continued down through hundreds of years. A Jew would not give a Samaritan the time of day and vice a versa. For the hero in this story to be a Samaritan would have been shocking to those listening to Jesus that day.
Jesus had carefully chosen who the other two characters were in the story. The priests were set aside as holy, the only ones permitted in the tabernacle where God was present. The continued worship, led by the priests, that took place in the temple ensured God’s presence there and God’s blessing on the land and thus abundance of the land. Priests held an important position and were well respected. They had to be pure in order to be in the tabernacle and to be near a dead body made them unclean and unable to participate. The priest was taking no chances and stayed well away. The rituals of the temple superseded all else, including compassion and mercy. The Levite was of the tribe of Levi. They had a special place in the nation since the time of Moses. The Levites were the teachers and the administrators of the law. The second man who passed by was a man versed in the covenant laws that governed the lives of the people of Israel, the people of God. For this man, love and mercy were of little importance.
Jesus ended his story by turning to the man who had asked the question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Love, shown by compassion and mercy, is the most important of all. Jesus says to you, “Go and do likewise.”