9th August 2020
Good Morning all,
I hope your week has gone well as the wee chinks of light begin to creep through the darkness of lockdown.
During this awful pandemic we have seen the best in people with so many doing so much for those in need and the vulnerable.
And we’ve seen the worst in people as we see scammers taking advantage of the situation, many disregarding the advice given to us regarding social distancing and flagrantly putting others, and themselves at risk. It almost beggars belief.
Our ‘Lesson’ for today shows that those very same issues were around in Biblical times. Some caring for the vulnerable– others passing by, with no regard for the lives of others.
But before that – let us pray ~
Dear Lord and father, we give you thanks for this day – as we thank you for every day that you spare us.
We thank you for being a great and wonderful God – a God who made the universe and all that is good within it.
We thank you for your daily care for us – and we thank you for walking with us as we travel the road of life with all it’s twists and turn, it’s ups and downs.
You are a truly faithful God – a God who knows our every thought – our every feeling – aye and our every fault too – yet you continue to love us. You go on caring for us and you guide and coax us to follow your ways to being a better person.
How amazing you are ! – how forgiving you are – O that we were so forgiving with each other !!
Help us to see that loving you – loving each other – is the way of Jesus – help us to see that we do so much that offends and upsets you – often we don’t even realize it – yet you see our unpleasant deeds – you hear our distasteful thoughts – and so we apologise Lord and pray that you will open our eyes that we might see your way more clearly – open our ears that we might hear your word to us – open our hearts that we might open them to you and each other – so that others will know that we are your followers – following your way – so that they will know that we are Christians by the love that we show to you, to each other and to the world.
Heavenly Father – we pray that you will help us and bless us with your mercy and your grace – for we ask it the name of the one who came into the world and suffered and died for our sakes – our precious Lord Jesus.
Lord, as we speak to you as individuals this morning in our prayers – we have the assurance that you hear us – so hear us now as we speak to you as a family – as we pray together the family prayer that Jesus taught his followers to pray – the Lord’s prayer –
Our Father..who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever. Amen.
Our Reading for today is taken from Luke’s Gospel – and is one of the most well known of Parables – The Good Samaritan.
As I mentioned earlier, it shows both the good and the bad in people. I’m sure you know the story – but you’ll not be surprised to hear that there is much more to it than first appears.
Let’s read it now ~
Luke 10 : 25 – 37 from the New Life Version (NLV)
Jesus Talks to the Man Who Knew the Law
25 A man stood up who knew the Law and tried to trap Jesus. He said, “Teacher, what must I do to have life that lasts forever?” 26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? What does the Law say?” 27 The man said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart. You must love Him with all your soul. You must love Him with all your strength. You must love Him with all your mind. You must love your neighbour as you love yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have said the right thing. Do this and you will have life.” 29 The man tried to make himself look good. He asked Jesus, “Who IS my neighbour?”
30 Jesus, seeing the man was struggling to understand – told him this Parable ;
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho. Robbers came out after him. They took his clothes off and beat him. Then they went away, leaving him almost dead.
31 A religious leader was walking down that road and saw the man. But he went by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a man from the family group of Levi was walking down that road. When he saw the man who was hurt, he came near to him but kept on going on the other side of the road.
33 Then a man from the country of Samaria came by. He went up to the man. As he saw him, he had loving-pity on him. 34 He got down and put oil and wine on the places where he was hurt and put cloth around them. Then the Samaritan put this man on his own donkey. He took him to a place where people stay for the night and cared for him. 35 The next day the man from Samaria was ready to leave. He gave the owner of that place two pieces of money to care for him. He said to him, ‘Take care of this man. If you use more than this, I will give it to you when I come again.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who was beaten by the robbers?”
37 The man who knew the Law said, “The one who showed loving-pity on him.” Then Jesus said, “You are right – then go and do the same.”
“This the Word of the Lord – Thanks be to God”
Some time ago I was speaking to a group of youngsters and was explaining to them how the Bible is a really ‘cooool’ book.
It has many lessons for us – and can teach us many things – if we are willing to learn them.
And it also tells us things that we might not want to hear –
And nobody like to hear things that make us feel uncomfortable.
We’re not best pleased if someone says to us – “my, you’re fairly putting on the weight – or – blimey, you looking really old these days!!” – even if it’s true – we don’t want to hear it, do we ?
A remember an old gentleman in the Highlands once said to me “I’ve stopped going to the Free Church” – and when I asked why – he answered “ I know I’m a sinner but I don’t like being reminded of it every Sunday!” J
The Bible has some deep truths for us – some are good to hear. Others are not so popular – but true never the less…….
That’s one reason why I particularly like the Parables of Jesus.
They tell a simple story which explains a heavy message but they’re put over in language that we can understand – or a language in which His listeners could understand –
And they usually had a sting in the tail !!….
So – over the past 3 weeks – we have been looking at some of these Parables – to see what we can find in them and what they have to say to us – today – here in our own lives.
Perhaps the most well known of them all – is the Parable of the Good Samaritan… a traveller – shall we say – on the ‘road of life’ – his vulnerability being exploited by the more unpleasant among the society… (sounds a bit like the experience of many today) !
Like so many today – here was someone in trouble – vulnerable, and needing a helping hand – but those he hoped would help – walk right by.
First there was a Priest – a ‘religious man’ – afraid to get his hands dirty – afraid that the man might be dead and in touching him – cause himself to break one of his religions many laws, that of touching ‘unclean flesh.’
And we might well imagine him looking around, seeing no-one watching – and walking on by.
Then there was a Levite – also a staunchly religious man – afraid too of religious restrictions – maybe he saw the Priest and thought – “better play safe – if the Priest didn’t touch him – perhaps I’d better not either !” And so he ‘looked the other way’ and scurried by.
Do you do that with those people who sit in doorways with their appealing eyes – looking for hand outs ?? …….many do…….
“Get a job!” some shout at them – is that what Jesus would say to them?
And then there was the third traveller – the one who “did the right thing” – the one who put himself out – giving up his own time and in money – to help someone in need – as are so many today.
And this is, of course, the whole crux of the story…….
Helping the poor and the needy – and not just those we know and love – but those we don’t know – and ought to love.
But there is a ‘sting in the tail’ – or there would have been , for the Jewish listeners of this parable, 2000 years ago.
The man who ‘did the right thing’ was from Samaria.
And the people of Samaria, were hated by the Jews – they saw them as a nation of half breeds – the nation responsible for watering down their precious Jewish blood – and in doing so – through the many ‘mixed marriages’, had left them neither one thing or the other – as they saw it.
There was a Jewish saying – “one who eats the bread of the Samaritan – is like one who eats the flesh of swine”!
No love lost there, then…………
And so – to hear the punch-line of this Parable – to find out that a Samaritan who was the hero of the story – would have been a major culture shock to them. And the And they would not have been best pleased !!
And perhaps THAT is where a lesson is to be found for us.
The story talks about the need to help others – but I believe that the real lesson is deeper than that…
I believe that this Parable teaches us to challenge our ideas – our ideals. To look at ourselves and see if our fears and our prejudices are anymore acceptable than the fears and prejudices of 2000 years ago.
And that – like so much in the bible – may not be an easy lesson for us to take on board – but as we repeatedly hear in the words of Jesus – to have a new life – we must adopt new ways.
And that isn’t always easy for us to take on board.
Jesus had been traveling around, preaching and teaching the Good News to all who would listen – telling them, telling us too, that if we were to claim His wonderful promises and blessings – which will be freely given to us – then they/we have to ‘shake off’ our old ways and take on new and Christ-like ways.
But Jesus knew that the people were set in their ways.
They were restricted as to who they could help and what they could and couldn’t do.
But their restrictions were of their own making – and so they couldn’t see their way ahead – only looking back to the way things have been.
The Jewish people were stuck in the past – in a ‘time warp’ – they knew that you could only get to heaven by obeying God’s law – but they had taken God’s law – and added their own interpretations of them – over 300 new ‘Laws’ which had been laid down in their historical books such as Deuteronomy and Leviticus
Such as what they could and couldn’t do – what they could and couldn’t eat and so on.
Lots of do’s and don’ts which made life pretty miserable for the people.
But Jesus was saying – that we must get back to basics – get back to God’s law – not our man-made interpretations of them.
“Our ways are not God’s ways” – the Bible tells us – and perhaps this story also reminds us that we ought to be trying harder to come closer to God’s ways – than perpetuating our own interpretation of them.
And here we come to the real knub of this Parable – the very centre of its lesson for us.
And it’s this ~
It offers us a glimpse of God’s kingdom – it shows us how we ought to be acting and thinking – how God acts and thinks – and it invites us to act similarly..
“This is God’s way – go then and do likewise” Jesus said in the last sentence of our reading.
Not just loving our own kind but love all who are in need.
It invites us to look around for a neighbour in need.
To help those who we might not particularly like – those who offend our own senses and upset our prejudices – but that is what God calls us to do.
To love others – as God loves us – whoever, wherever, whatever.
“That’s God’s way – it should be our way too!
And so we learn from this Parable – if we are open to learn – that the Samaritan wasn’t just a nice guy who happened to be walking by.
He was a symbol of change .
He reminds us of the kind of qualities that we – as people of God – ought to be displaying –
Reminding us that our neighbour is not just the person who lives next door – or those we have drawn close to – our friends.
Our neighbours are those who share this planet with us – no matter their colour, their beliefs, their ‘religion’ or their political persuasion.
Our neighbours are those who we – so often – choose not to love.
Love your neighbour – well we do – of course – but the sad part is – (and this is what Jesus was trying to get over to the Jewish leaders) – we pick and choose our neighbour as it suits us….
God loves those we might reject.
He cares for those we might turn our backs on.
He shows no favour but treats us all equally.
He loves our enemy – but do we?
It is We who pick and choose who we are going to help – to love, to care for.
And aren’t we glad that God doesn’t do the same to us ?!
It makes you think, doesn’t it?
At least – I hope it does.
And in Jesus name.
And may God bless this preaching of his holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His
Let us pray together ~
Loving and living God, we rejoice that this is your world,
created by your hand, sustained by your power, guided by your purpose.
So now we bring it to you,
seeking your blessing on all its affairs.
We pray for peace,
that the leaders of all nations may work to reduce weaponry and promote dialogue.
And we think of the ongoing situations around the world and the difficult and dangerous peace-keeping missions which go o behind the scenes……….
We pray for justice,
that the abundance of this earth’s resources
may be distributed more evenly.
We pray for liberty,
that moves towards greater democracy and freedom may prosper.
We pray for harmony,
that everyone, irrespective of race, sex, creed or religion may be valued for who they are. And we think of many places in the world where Christians are unable to worship you in peace and love – where racial intolerance is manifested in violence and death….
We pray for all people who are suffering through mankind’s inhumanity to their fellow man……….. for all who know the unbearable pain and distress of wars and confrontation………… draw close to them and grant then your comfort and peace..
Help them to bear the unbearable – suffer the insufferable – help them to tolerate the intolerable………… may they feel your loving arms which encircle them…. and the warmth which we feel as you hold us close…………
But listening Lord, we do not just pray for the big things in life that affect the world – we pray also for the little, everyday things – rejoicing that all situations are important to you, all people matter in your sight.
So we bring the business of each day,
small in the eyes of the world, but important to us:
the responsibilities of family life and parenthood; the cost of buying and running a home; the problems of earning a living and making ends meet; the joys and sorrows of marriage and relationships; the well-being of our loved ones;
our places of work and recreation, worship and relaxation. We put these into your hands,
knowing that they matter to you as much as they matter to us.
Caring Lord – today we bring our families and our church family before you – asking that you draw us closer together as we live and worship together – that we may love you, love each other and love those who we ought to love – with the same love that we are given by you – through your son Jesus.
Remind those who are unwell or housebound or in hospital – that we continue to hold them in our prayers and asj for you blessings upon them.
We pray for all those who are suffering the loss of a loved one in the dreadful explosion in Beirut. We pray for the families and friends who mourn their dear one. Ease their pain Father, heal their broken hearts, give them your strength as they travel the dark road of bereavement and may the know your presence as they struggle to make sense their loss.
Loving and living God,
we thank you that you are involved in our world, and involved in our lives, not distant or remote, but seeking the good of everything you have made.
Gratefully we put our trust in you.
And we pray that you will come into our lives and help us with our various needs – some needing peace, others strength, other guidance – so many needs Lord –
Draw close us us now as we sit together in silence for a few moments, side by side, each with our own thoughts and prayers for those we know and love – bringing to you our own fears and concerns – bringing them to you in the peace of our silence………take a few moments to think of someone who you wish to pray for – whisper their name – God hears your words.…………
Be with them, be with us, as we bring them before you in the name of the one who loves us so much that He gave His very life for us – our Lord and our Saviour – our dear Jesus Christ.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT~
Here’s a story about that quality of quiet, inner strength that I was talking about earlier – it’s called ‘NOT MUCH OF A MAN’.
It’s about a long distance lorry driver who was travelling south and stopped at a roadside cafe for a meal in the early hours of a cold, wet morning.
The place was empty except for one or two tired looking travellers.
He pulled in – ordered burgers chips and a coke – and sat down to enjoy his meal.
Within a few minutes – a gang of motor-bikers came in. They began shouting and throwing things around and giving the customers cheek – who left their uneaten meals and made for the door. But the lorry driver said nothing and kept on eating. The bikers weren’t best pleased that their antics didn’t seem to upset the driver – so they went over to him and began harassing him – one poured his coke over his head – no reaction – so another threw his half eaten burger on the floor – stood on it – then put it back on the driver’s plate, still no reaction.
Then – the lorry driver stood up – wiped his face with a napkin – paid his bill and calmly walked out of the cafe and into his lorry.
“huh!” – said the leader of the bikers – “what a wimp ! – he’s not much of a man !”
“No” – said the cafe owner – “and he’s not much of a driver either – he’s just driven his lorry over the top of a whole line of motor-bikes !!”.
Quiet inner strength – a confidence – a humility which to the world might seem weak and soft – but is in fact a strength.
They are qualities which Jesus showed when he was arrested, tortured, ridiculed and cruelly nailed to a cross.
We won’t be asked to endure such hardships – but we can show those ‘Christ – like’ qualities in our everyday lives – being ‘the very image of Christ’.
So here’s a thought for all of us to take away and think about ~
When your friends, family, colleagues look at you, do they see the gentle qualities of love, patience and humility that Jesus displayed ?
Perhaps they do ! – perhaps they don’t !!
What do they see??
Mmmm!!!! – it’s a thought isn’t it !?
Whoever you are, wherever you go, whatever your strengths, whatever your weaknesses, be assured that God will be with you, to hold, and to heal, to guide and to bless.
Go, then, in peace – assured of His love.
And may the Blessing of Almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day and every day.
Take care and May God Bless you
And those who you love.
Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which
is Posted every Wednesday Morning.
Some of you will know that I am currently serving as Locum
in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.
It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.
If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk
and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.