Call to Worship
At this table tonight we connect our bodies with a good but broken creation, groaning and yearning for redemption (romans 8)
we acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Wurundjeri have been custodians from time immemorial. (acts 17:26-27)
We acknowledge the season of deep winter known by the Woiwurrung as Waring (Wombat) season.
This cold time of the year we look for the caps being shed from the buds of deciduous trees;
The breeding of echidnas;
birds active in early mornings competing for nests.
We remember traditional owners who during this season camped aways from flooded river flats on uplands in bark willams (shelters),
where they were able to eat . . .
koalas, possums, wombats, and grubs from the trees.The roots of the browning water plants and tubers. Fragrant nectar and fruits which came from the BURGILBURGIL and BULAIT bushes.
Welcome Winter: God, come heal our earth.
Let us be present in this season of deep winter.
The sun has turned away from us and the nest of summer hangs broken in a tree.
Life slips through our fingers and, as darkness gathers, our hands grow cold.
It is time to go inside.
It is time for reflection and resonance.
It is time for contemplation
Let us go inside.
(adapted from Geoff Wraight, Westgate Baptist Church)
Ministry of the Word: Good Samaritan
These reflection questions were spread among the various tables…
People can be robbed of much more than material goods…Time, love, attention, trust, acceptance…
Do you feel like you have been robbed of anything? Who by?
Have you robbed someone else of something?
Can you forgive your ‘robber’?
Can you forgive yourself?
Forgiveness can rarely be of human making, and is rarely a single event or moment. What would you like from the ‘innkeeper’ as you continue on your journey through life?
What if you are the person in the ditch, and God is the “Good Samaritan?”
In the story the ‘enemy’ brings life to the person left for dead. The person who cannot help herself, who has nothing to lose, who can’t even refuse help, is saved by someone usually scorned and derided. Perhaps, at different times, you see God as your ‘enemy’ and as your rescuer?
In what ways, if any, do you see God as your enemy?
In what ways would you like God to be your rescuer?
What ditch are you lying in?
Jesus did not come to rescue the healed…he came for the broken, offering to get in the ditch with us, and making us the promise of being put into a right relationship with God.
To ask ‘Who is my neighbour?’ is to ask ‘Who can I exclude?’ ‘Who can I leave out?’ ‘Who am I not responsible for?’ Examples of exclusion and inclusion surround us every day.
Tear out any newspaper article, heading, picture or text that sums up a plea from someone who needs a neighbour. Someone who is excluded in some way.
Stick it on our Newsboard.
Read what others have chosen.
Can you act as neighbour in any of these situations? Can you include someone who would otherwise be excluded? Pray for those who can; pray that someone will.
Reflect on a recent situation where someone ‘became a neighbour’ or acted as a neighbour to you, or to someone close to you. How does this feel? Were you surprised? Why, or why not?
How did you respond? Could you or should you have acted differently?
Do you find it easier to be a neighbour or to be ‘neighboured’?
‘In the Kingdom of God mercy is always a surprise.’
EVERYBODY NEEDS GOOD…
The point of Jesus’ interaction with the lawyer was to have him see that , ‘Who is my neighbour?’ is the wrong question. The right question is ‘ Who sees me as their neighbour?’ In other words, ‘Who needs me to be a neighbour to them?’ Who needs me to show mercy, compassion, understanding, acceptance, practical help toward their situation? The initiative comes from the need, not my response.
Are you aware of a person or situation that needs your merciful neighbourly response? Maybe you need that from someone else? Could you use a neighbour at the moment? How will you seek one out?
PAYING FOR CARE
What reasons may the Samaritan have paid the innkeeper to care? For what reasons might you give time or money to charity or be an inn keeper; paid to care?
How do you feel when corrupt officials, warlords or racist bureaucrats stop that happening? What keeps you going?
The story Jesus told isn’t about doing good works, or following a good example. It’s a story about doing what is right because it is right. It’s about identifying with the loser and sacrificing your best for the lost , the least, the little and the almost dead (Robert Farrar Capon’s litany). It’s about losing your life and somehow in doing that, according to Jesus, finding the meaning of your life.
How do you feel about these tensions and stuggles?
There is no reason given in the story to think that the Levite and the Priest were morally corrupt, or self- centred, or too busy to notice what was going on. They were probably good, respectable people. They saw the situation, but were caught between their duty to the people they served, and to the victim. They knew if they touched the injured man they would not be able to carry out their own scheduled duties of service to others in temple worship. They would be considered ‘unclean’.
I don’t think the story is about putting the Samaritan’s response above those of the Priest or Levite. It’s about getting the lawyer to understand that his view of ‘neighbour’ was too simplistic and narrow. Too black and white. Jesus doesn’t condemn anyone’s choice.
Service, community development, being a neighbour, offering love can’t be defined with words; they are worked out in the messy, compromising, risky reality of difficult and often conflicting choices.
Do you feel pulled in this way in your personal life or work circumstances?
How do you maintain you integrity? How do you ‘love yourself” in these situations?
Talk to God about the impossibility of the situations you face. Remember the similarly difficult choice God faced with Jesus and the cross. Know that you are not condemned by God for your choices.
The main characters in the story are—Jesus, The lawyer, The victim, The robbers, The priest, The Levite, The Samaritan, The Innkeeper.
What do you identify most with?
Do you know why this is?
Is this identification something you are happy with or wish was different?
Prayers For Others
We cried How Long O Lord in response to violence in the United States and Dallas in particular using the Over the Rhine Song Idea #21 (Not to Late)
We prayed for the Guardians of the Flemington Road Lemon Scented Gum (Facebook link here). Whether you’re a local who love’s the 110 year old gateway tree of Melbourne or would prefer another lane for traffic there is no denying the passion these locals have for our neighbourhood and its flora and fauna including possums, lorikeets, honey-eaters and galahs we witnessed in this powerfully symbolic tree at this weeks protest meeting.