Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Colleagues List, July 14th, 2019

Vol XV. No. 2

Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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Dear Friends:

This week I share with you the message I offered  those
gathered at the church last Sunday, July 14th. We had a
good attendance at worship and between 600-700 outside
for our Annual Calgary Stampede Breakfast.



Sunday Reflection at:

St. David’s United Church, Calgary

THE GOOD SAMARITAN REVISITED                                                              
Sunday, July 14th, 2019

The Parable of the Good Samaritan                                                        
Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. [a] “Teacher,”                          
he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 He said                      
to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”                  
27 He 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.”                              

28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer;                          
do this, and you will live."29 But wanting to justify himself,                      
he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus 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.  31 Now by chance a priest                
was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed                    
by on the other side.  32 So likewise a Levite, when he came                      
to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when                  
he saw him, he was moved with pity.  34 He 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.  35 The next day he took out two                          
denarii, [b] 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?”                  
37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said                          
to him, “Go and do the same."


Opening Comment:

How do we integrate the biblical themes about showing
compassion for people in need (like the Good Samaritan
story we just heard) and the Calgary Stampede which has
been part of our experience these past days? Do Scripture
and Stampede mix?

We can ignore the set scripture texts for the day; we can
select our own personal texts; we can by-pass scripture
all together; or we can pay no attention to what is going
on all around us in our city.

My own training as a preacher was simply this – work hard
to connect the scriptures to daily life as we know it. So that
is what I hope to do now. The challenge confronting us this
morning is actually about making connections between the
Good Samaritan and the Calgary Stampede.


A modern highway joins the cities of Jerusalem and Jericho.
But when you follow that route today (as St. David’s Spiritual
Travelers did four years ago) it’s not hard to imagine what it
must have been like in biblical times. I was captivated by the
haunted, sparse landscape between the two cities. Indeed,
I realized that there were many places along the way that
could serve as an abode for bandits.

In Jesus’ parable (a teaching device at which he excelled)
a hapless traveler was set upon by thieves who beat him up,
took his money and left him for dead beside the road. Two
religious authorities passed him by without giving attention,
and a foreigner stopped to give him aid. The Samaritan took
him to the nearest inn and made sure he was looked after.

One approach we might take to unpack this masterful
narrative and great moral is to think in terms of the various
characters in the drama.

First, we have the victim. He is, in fact, the one on whom
the story centers. If there had been no robbery or mistreatment,
there would be no plot. Have you ever put yourself in the role
of the victim in this story? This man was exploited with
no recourse, pure and simple.

Then, there are the religious figures – the priest and the Levite –
both of whom were respected members of the Jewish community,
known to all Jesus’ hearers. They appear here as foils in order to
contrast religious hypocrites with the virtuous outsider – the
Samaritan. We know that, at the time, most Jews despised
Samaritans; but in this case, the Samaritan ironically turns out
to be the good guy.

In our own experience today, our “Samaritan” might be a Jew,
a Gypsy, a Black or a Gay person. A major subtheme of this
story is the one demonstrating that the ‘outsider’ or despised
one behaves much better than people who claim to be
religious. Perhaps that is why so many do not consider
themselves “religious” today. It can mean being hypocritical.

Other characters in the drama are the thieves, and the

Today we might get into discussions about why thieves end
up doing what they do. Probably because of unfortunate
childhoods or neglected backgrounds. Some of us, I suspect,
may prefer finding ways to redeem thieves rather than to
care for their victims.

The inn-keeper has an honorable role. He is rewarded by
the Samaritan to expand his efforts and care for the victim;
to strengthen and send him on his way.

You see, all the characters in this drama, including the
donkey, play important parts; and not just the Samaritan.


Two questions were asked of Jesus to create meaning
in this parable.

Both were posed by a young lawyer who was probably
trained in the art of getting to the heart of an issue.

“What must I do to be saved? and to inherit eternal life?”
– he asks Jesus. Jesus, in response, focuses on the
core teaching of the Jewish faith – “love God, and love
your neighbor.” The young man responds. “That is
how I live.” “Good,” says the Master. “Do that and
you will find the meaning of life.”

But the lawyer presses further – “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus avoids being the moralizing one. To not be the
answer man, Jesus relates a story and helps his enquirer
answer his own question. He finds meaning and an answer
for himself in the story. “Who is my neighbor?” “The one
showing compassion.” “Go and do likewise.”

“Be compassionate and merciful to all those who cross
your path.” That, is the sum and substance of living faithfully
 and being authentically, not hypocritically religious.


The Good Samaritan story is a classical image or motif
that speaks to all humanity, regardless of religion and
culture. What might it say to us, today, in Calgary, as
we complete another Stampede celebration?

Hospitality – (treating others with warmth and openness)
is a major theme of the Good Samaritan story. I would
say it is also a major theme of our Calgary Stampede.
We Calgarians are recognized for our hospitality and
do a good job of it. Many of our quests would concur.

I think that we at St. David’s imitate the warm, open
social climate that characterizes our city.

A special thanks to those who have worked so hard to mirror
our hospitable urban spirit into our congregational life today.

Religious groups have a way of turning inward and exclusivist.
That will not attract outsiders to our community or make people
want to be like us. When we see that problem we should call
attention to it.

A second important lesson is this. If we are only doing what
everyone else is doing at stampede time we should question
that and ask ourselves: “As a Christian community - what
makes us different? What can we contribute to the wider
world that is special?”

Let me remind you that we have Good News to tell. We have
special  stories with a special message to convey to people.
If our neighbors visit us but find us no different in our Christian
values and behavior than they would find anywhere else –
we are not being Christian.

From the very beginning, the Christian community was a
special place that drew searching people to itself. The early
church was not a group of religious elitists, but a caring and
compassionate fellowship of sojourners with those in need.
That was what drew me to St. David’s thirty years ago,
and that is what keeps me here. I learned, over time,
that I too needed to share with others the Good News
of caring and compassion I had experienced here.

That is my attempt to connect Stampede week with
Gospel message, even though other connections could
be made.

Next Sunday, I would like to unpack further what
Christian spiritual “hospitality” can be. But today is
a day of Stampede celebration at St. David’s,
so let the party continue!


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