Sunday, July 15, 2007

Who's neighbor to me?

Luke 10:25-37

All too quickly we want to ask the question who's our neighbor. We want to figure out what/who God wants us to touch all too quickly before realizing the depth of our own being touched by a Presence which engages with us in a way that is much more akin to the relationship between a Jew and a Samaritan. What is that relationship? Well, the people of Samaria were half breeds, considered such by those superior religious and righteous Jews, who themselves were part of the true Abraham-Isaac-Jacob tribe. What good could an outsider, like a "Sammy", do to provide for a godly Jew that such a Jew didn't already have? Well for, conscientiousness, true companionship, a demonstration of true humanity.

Perhaps through good intentioned interests we do want to know who we can be of service to in this world. We do, many of us, want to know who our neighbor is and, at least on a good day, when we're feeling good about helping others, help out. This good Sam story seems to pry into the depths of the Complete Other, foreign to our own sense of welcome, coming to save us along the ditch, this good Sam being God, who is 'moved to pity' by our own helpless condition and sets us up with good health care and assurance of another day. So what do you think? Will that traveler, perhaps it was a Jew but the text doesn't explicitly say so, be willing to reach out one day and help someone else? Will this experience in anyway change his heart, 'move him with pity', when he comes across another traveler similar to himself.

I wonder...looking into our own reflections and the ways we're broken and have been received through compassion by others, embraced and accepted fully by God for who we are, will that cause us to be more compassionate too? Or will we resort back to the ways of the priest and Levite? Something in me, that good 'ol cynic I guess, feels that the secondary question wants to replace the first, that is, 'who is my neighbor?' The first however, "who's been neighbor to me?", seems to be suggesting that the alien Presence, completely different than myself, God if you will, has come and welcomed me just as I am in order to show me that I am something of worth, significance, even as those around me pass me by along the way. I'm wondering today about motivation. I'm curious about what 'moves one with pity'.
Perhaps as human beings it is by taking the time to peer into the reflect pool of the inner self realizing that in our darkness, emptiness, and isolation we're not alone. There is One who cares deeply and picks us up. And again, perhaps it is through this realization, that in our own fragile nature, Someone has taken an interest in us, maybe then we will learn to take an interest in those who are not really too different from us after all.

So as this week moves along I'll be attentive not merely to the neighbors I run across on my journeys, but also, be wondering what neighbors God is sending my way, to soften and re-sensitize me to my true humanity.

Could it be that the good Samaritan, in it's multiplicity of incarnations, is present in the emerging church, those of us half breeds, who are in relationship to the mother-ship church? Could this radical other reality be an expression of an emerging body bringing restoration and healing to another who is dying? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


shoplifter83 said...

Dave, I was asked to give the Reverb/sermon/message at COTA this past saturday, and this very passage is the one I spoke on. I didn't happen upon this blog article until now. I'd be cool to talk with you about it...and just to catch up in general!

Peace out,

dave said...

love to get caught up. email me at and we'll set some times to chat.

isipwater said...

You are wondering if the traditional modern church is laying and dying in the ditch and the emerging church is coming to the rescue?

According to this story then, who is passing by the modern church, not lending a hand to help? And, how is the emerging church called to help restore the modern church?